Anti-Israel activists in London are calling for a boycott a world-class Israeli film and TV festival, citing slanderous accusations against the Jewish state. The event will open on Thursday.
A group of some 40 artists, producers and “concerned citizens” from the United Kingdom have called on British cinemas to cancel their hosting of the London Israeli Film and Television Festival, which is scheduled to open this Thursday.
In an open letter published in The Guardian, the signatories were “saddened” by the scheduling of the festival at a time “when the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is gaining unprecedented momentum and the Israeli government is finding itself increasingly isolated” for what they allege is “systematic violation of Palestinian human rights, the Geneva conventions, and international law.”
The authors claim that by hosting the festival, the cinemas are ignoring the 2004 call by Palestinian civil society for sanctions against Israel until it “abides by international law and ends its illegal displacement of Palestinians, discrimination against them, and occupation of their land.”
They are also protesting the supposed “wanton destruction and killing in the Gaza Strip” during the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge to uproot Hamas’ terror infrastructure and were irked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s democratic re-election. The Israeli leader, they say, “denies Palestinians their equal rights and self-determination.”
By benefiting from money from the State of Israel, which funds the festival, the cinemas “become silent accomplices to the violence inflicted on the Palestinian people,” the BDS activists charge. “Such collaboration and cooperation is unacceptable. It normalises, even if unintentionally, the Israeli government’s violent, systematic and illegal oppression of the Palestinians.”
The anti-Israel activists are calling on the cinemas to “stand with the oppressed Palestinian people and to take no part in presenting the festival.”
Targeting Israel’s Core Existence
In a statement, the founders of the festival, Anat Koren, Odelia Haroush and Patty Hochmann, said the BDS’s call for a boycott harms attempts at peaceful discourse. “Our festival is a showcase for the many voices throughout Israel, including Arab Israelis and Palestinians, as well as religious and secular groups. These are highly talented filmmakers and actors, working together successfully to provide entertainment and insight for film and television lovers internationally.”
“Freedom of expression in the arts is something that the British have worked so hard to defend. An attempt to block the sharing of creative pursuits and the genuine exchange of ideas and values is a disappointing reaction to a festival that sets out to open up lines of communication and understanding.”
Israel has recently faced a wave of international boycott calls, including the attempt by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to throw Israel out of FIFA, the national student union in Britain’s vote to support a boycott of Israel and the stated intention of Orange, the French telecommunications giant, to end the company’s business dealings with Israel.
Commenting on the mounting anti-Israel trend, Netanyahu explained the activities were targeting the country’s core existence rather than being carried out as a protest to government policy.
“We are in the midst of an orchestrated global campaign to delegitimize Israel,” Netanyahu stated. “It’s about our right to exist here as a free people, our right to defend ourselves, our right to determine our own future.”
“In the battle against delegitimization, our most potent weapon is the truth,” he declared. “We must speak the truth – loudly, clearly, proudly. That’s what we must all do.”