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London hall cancels Israeli event

LONDON (JTA) — A London theater canceled an event to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day following pressure from pro-Palestinian groups. 

The Bloomsbury Theatre in the central part of the British city informed the Zionist Federation of Britain of its decision on Tuesday. The event scheduled for next week will take place at a different venue that the federation has not disclosed.

The federation’s annual celebration this year was to have an Israel Defense Forces choir, invited to Britain by the Israeli Embassy in London, to perform at the main memorial event to Israeli soldiers who died in Israel’s wars.

The theater decided to cancel the event as a result of appeals by pro-Palestinian groups that linked their appeals to the Israeli offensive in Gaza in January.

"A number of groups had contacted the Bloomsbury to protest the show," said a spokeswoman for the theater, adding "Obviously, we couldn’t have them perform here."

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said that holding the show "is akin to singing and dancing on the graves of the 400 Palestinian children that the IDF was responsible for killing in January. We should not be permitting a dance troupe from an army currently under a U.N. investigation for possible war crimes to be coming to the United Kingdom. It is sick."

Some of those objecting to the performance already have announced that they would demonstrate by the new venue once they find out the details.

Ticket sales for the event have picked up as a result of the controversy.

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