Jewish Film Festival begins amid very tight security over Jerusalem tensions
Jewish Film Festival begins amid very tight security over Jerusalem tensions Reuters

The UK Jewish Film Festival kicks off today amid very high security as tensions boil between Israel and Palestine.

With relations between Israel and its neighbours currently strained, it is feared festival events in London, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow could be targeted by extremists.

Twelve theatres, including venues at the Southbank and Mayfair in London, are due to hosts events from tonight until November 23 for the festival, which is funded by the Israeli government.

The festival's organisers were tight-lipped about security arrangements but a source at the Community Security Trust (CST), which is involved in the operation, told IBTimes UK security measures were as tight as possible to guard against potential attack.

Mark Gardner of the CST said: "The security is very high. It was at a high level already because of what has happened during the summer. Unfortunately, these hatreds do not just disappear in a period of months."

Hostilities between Jews and Palestinians were ratcheted up this week as a result of ongoing tensions over the holy site of Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which houses the Al Aqsia mosque and also two Jewish temples.

Last week a prominent Jewish rabbi was shot last week for demanding the lifting of a ban on Jews from the Mount site. This week one person was killed and several injured in two car attacks, which saw vehicles ploughing into pedestrians.

Opposition to the festival has come from high-profile figures in the film world, including acclaimed director Ken Loach, who this year called upon cinemas to boycott the festival.

He said in a letter: "Events sponsored by the Israeli state implicitly support the militaristic, expansionist policies of that state. The statements of the organisers of The Jewish Film Festival in London, in response to criticisms of Israeli funding, show, even more clearly the overt support for present day Israeli military policy."

A spokesman for the festival said: "I'm afraid that we are not able to comment on security in place."

Festival organisers denied any theatres had followed Loach's call for a boycott. "None have declined to be part of the festival and in fact have been very co-operative and ensured that all films could be shown," a spokesman added.