Mortensen: Israel uses Toronto to ‘whitewash illegal and inhumane actions’

on 31 Comments


viggo Danish-American actor Viggo Mortensen was working the Toronto International Film Festival today, doing press for a movie . He also wrote a very strong blog entry explaining why he had signed a statement protesting the festival.

[The statement objects] to the festival singling out Tel Aviv (which was merged with Jaffa to form a single municipality in 1950) for special recognition when the government of Israel continues to flout international law, essentially acting unilaterally as a rogue state in very much the same manner that the U.S. government did under George W. Bush…

I signed the statement in question, along with people like Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Naomi Klein, and many other thoughtful citizens from various countries (including a number of Israelis) some of whom have suffered from very real censorship and blacklisting. The statement does not promote the boycotting or censorship of any artist or movie from Israel or anywhere else. Those who have attacked the statement with that accusation are simply spreading misinformation and, unfortunately, continuing the ongoing successful distraction from the issue at hand: the Israeli government’s whitewashing of their illegal and inhumane actions inside and outside their legal national borders. There was nobody outside the cinema objecting to anyone going to see "Ajami". In fact, there was nobody doing anything other than going to see this and other movies being shown at the Scotiabank complex, or just walking on down Toronto’s Richmond Street


31 Responses

  1. Citizen
    September 14, 2009, 4:36 am

    From JVP Fact Sheet:

    three key false charges:
    1) That the protest letter unfairly singles out Israel.
    2) That the letter calls for a boycott of the Film Festival and Israeli films.
    3) That the letter in any way delegitimizes Tel Aviv.

  2. Richard Witty
    September 14, 2009, 5:23 am

    The letter is stated by most proponents, HERE for example, as associated with the BDS movement.

    The BDS movement, the cultural side, IS punitive, does single out Tel Aviv, is more than “just protect”, and calls for boycott of Israeli cultural productions.

    Its naive or worse, to associated it with BDS on the one hand, then insist that it is not in some exigesis of the individuals’ personal statements.

    Its like when Howard Zinn signed the pro-resistance published letter in 2006. He didn’t meant to endores Hezbollah, but did in fact.

    • Citizen
      September 14, 2009, 7:08 am

      The spotlight on Tel Aviv aspect of the Toronto festival is associated with the Brand Israel initiative. It’s naive or worse to ignore that, as it is to ignore, e.g., the history
      of Tel Aviv for the last 100 years.

      • Richard Witty
        September 14, 2009, 8:15 am

        Do you know the history of Toronto, of New York, of San Francisco, of Budapest, of London? of Mecca, or Ramallah?

        The PRESENT is what is important.

        And to date, the present Tel Aviv, a great middle eastern cultural center, had not yet been acknolwedged.

      • Shafiq
        September 14, 2009, 8:33 am

        How can a city expect others to acknowledge its present, when it refuses to acknowledge its past?

      • VR
        September 14, 2009, 9:28 am

        There is plenty to criticize of all of those cities Witty, you do not ignore the past or present condition of a city – they acknowledge their past warts and all. Sorry there is no statutes of limitation on murder and theft on the grand scale of ethnic cleansing. Just like there is not for any other settler state, especially one still involved in the process – you cannot split off one city from the country. The cultural center can be acknowledged after it acknowledges its past and present status, and the only reason why it does not acknowledge the past is because it is presently taking place on a grand scale in the country.

      • MRW
        September 14, 2009, 10:37 am

        The guy (Palestinian) who owns the land, has title, under the Tel Aviv Airport is still living. It was ripped from him. That present enough for you?

        The PRESENT is what is important. So there is one rule for cities, and another for countries? When the ‘present’ was 1948, why wasn’t that ‘present’-day ownership of the land acknowledged as most important, why were words supposedly heard from a deity by one man 5,000 years ago, then written on fragments of animal skin 2500 years ago by a bunch of men, deemed to supersede 2,500 years of history since; and used to displace a people and start wars?

        One rule for the goose, another for the gander. Typical.

      • Richard Witty
        September 14, 2009, 11:08 am

        You are joking V. Do you think that any city has to grovel the way Israeli cities are asked to repeatedly, ad nauseum.

        EVERY city was the site of expropriation, corruption, abuse one way and abuse another way.

        They are still applauded. Tel Aviv should similarly.

      • jimby
        September 14, 2009, 4:44 pm

        witty, you live around ny. of course you know about the dutch trading for manhattan and i would assume you know that the canarsie line is named for a tribe of indians. get off the pity pot and man up. i haven’t heard anyone asking israeli cities to “grovel” . you are so full of it.

    • VR
      September 14, 2009, 9:19 am

      Oh I see, the resistance on one immediately means the acceptance of the other, eh Witty? So that the immediate running to the side of Israel on its atrocious activity must mean the rejection of the goals of the USA. That is about as convoluted as saying you oppose the centralism of China, so that immediately makes you a capitalist. Sorry, life is a bit more complicated than that. However, the immediate acceptance of Tel Aviv with no recognition of its past means that you automatically accept its way of coming into being (ethnic cleansing and currently practicing apartheid). To ignore an ongoing process which is Rife in the country, and a state of being brought about by that process in Tel Aviv is to embrace reality.

      • Chris Moore
        September 14, 2009, 10:32 am

        This goes to Witty’s demands that Palestinian advocates not declare themselves Palestinian advocates, but rather Hamas partisans, or Fatah partisans. It’s all a means of breaking down and isolating resistance into ever smaller cells so that they can be labeled “terrorist” and summarily eliminated.

        Very Talmudic, that process of intellectually (dishonestly) grinding down the opposition into nothing, often lying to do so. Zionism utilizes it the all the time. It’s actually an offensive psychological tactic, like Chinese water torture.

        Very sadistic, in its own way. Zionists love it because it leaves no finger prints.

      • Richard Witty
        September 14, 2009, 11:13 am

        I accept its coming into being. It took a VERY LONG time and a great deal of effort to build up Tel Aviv.

        The specific instances of forced removals of locals do not over-balance that.

        Are you entirely sure that the “forced removals” were entirely ethnically based? Sincerely. I’m asking you to be skeptical about your own assumptions. To question authority.

        I lived near White Plains NY in the mid 60’s when 15,000 black residents were forcefully removed from their rented homes to make way for urban renewal. That was just one example of a forced removal that was occurring all over the country, and applauded. I got involved later with a radical organization in White Plains, WESPAC, and was told in detail of the sequence and meetings, and demonstration.

        But, still, you go to White Plains and see new Tel Aviv like architecture, lots of money, and don’t know that the same neighborhoods were black ghettos 40 years ago.

        Not title, but residents.

      • Citizen
        September 14, 2009, 2:08 pm

        Witty, are suggesting that the White Plains tenants are the equivalent of Palestinian landowners? And did not the W P slumlords get compensation from the municipal government? Did the Palestinian landowners get a similiar compensation?

        You should check into whether the balance of Jewish benefits actually exceeds
        the cost to the Palestininans who were uprooted. I’m sure you think the native
        Americans were given a raw deal by the USA government, all things considered. And that happened way before the Nuremberg Trials and Geneva & international progeny
        agencies. You only call on History when it suits you, a typical Zionist framing of
        any issue.

    • Chaos4700
      September 14, 2009, 11:02 am

      I’m confused. When there’s violent protest against what Israel is doing, you object. When there’s non-violent protest against what Israel is doing, you object. Do you really expect the extent of resistance to what Israel is doing to be just blog entries?

      • Richard Witty
        September 14, 2009, 11:14 am

        If you want to be effective, you’ll endeavor to persuade hearts and minds.

        If you want to be loud, you’ll demonstrate and make blog posts.

      • Koshiro
        September 14, 2009, 11:16 am

        It’s not like doesn’t object to those either…

      • jimby
        September 14, 2009, 4:55 pm

        witty would have us all be very very quiet and think about it for a very very long time

      • tree
        September 14, 2009, 5:13 pm

        If you want to be loud, you’ll demonstrate and make blog posts.

        Or even simpler and less effective, make inane and meaningless blog comments, right Richard? You got that position nailed down tight.

  3. Citizen
    September 14, 2009, 10:15 am

    Mark Levine pulls Richard Witty up by the short hairs:

    link to

  4. Richard Witty
    September 14, 2009, 11:16 am

    It still IS a great city, worthy of celebration.

    • potsherd
      September 14, 2009, 11:27 am

      Just like Omelas, only nobody can mention the child in the basement?

    • tree
      September 14, 2009, 5:14 pm

      NOT for its diversity. That’s a sham.

    • Michael Weiz
      September 14, 2009, 6:18 pm

      Witty – you and your kind have shot yourselves in the foot. You’ve demanded recompense for crimes committed 65 years ago but you’re attempting to wriggle out of responsibility for the crimes your friends carried out 60 years ago. It’s blatantly hypocritical.

  5. Chris Moore
    September 14, 2009, 11:53 am

    Meanwhile, Google News “TIFF”, and the rest of Hollywood royalty and the hipster-liberal pop culture elite continue to saunter down the red carpet, preening for the paparazzi as if they’re not metaphorically tromping all over Palestinians graves. They don’t give a damn. Madonna writ large. Me, me, me…

    Nearly the entire vacuous Hollywood/mainstream media/pop culture establishment today resembles nothing so much as an insular coven of used up whores living in an imaginary world where they’re the center of the universe instead of the venereal-ridden, Zionist tools they are, and have been for years.

  6. Ed_Frias
    September 14, 2009, 12:16 pm

    Citizen, here is your great Mark Levine.
    Can we say another radical liar.
    David Horowitz shows what a wacko Levine is
    link to

    • potsherd
      September 14, 2009, 1:04 pm

      Oh! David Horowitz! I suppose we will all have to crumple in awe!

      Horowitz, Dershowitz, Pipes – this one is a neocon mainliner.

    • Jacqueline_Hyde
      September 14, 2009, 1:09 pm

      Grab a clue Ed: Israel is making the rest of the planet blanch. I advise you to climb Masada soon, while there’s still good seats available.

      • potsherd
        September 14, 2009, 1:36 pm

        Ed should be in good company among the ghosts of the terrorists there.

    • potsherd
      September 14, 2009, 1:37 pm

      Levine plays the guitar! Cast him into outer darkness!

    • Citizen
      September 14, 2009, 2:24 pm

      David Horowitz is a typical and model PEP rep; I urge all blog readers here to check this out and make up their own minds:
      link to

      BTW, Ed_Frias, all you did is attack the messenger. Again, I urge all blog readers to
      read link to

      And note that Ed_Frias did not attack the content provided there .

  7. VR
    September 14, 2009, 2:40 pm

    Yes, I am also trembling now…lol All hoaxters, liars, plagiarizers and off the wall wackos are supposed to make us stand in awe, in awe. Never mind that they cannot stand up to a single debate, Ed wants to plunge headlong into the area where his sick “mentors” fear to tread. All they can do is write silly books that are supposed to chill academic freedom.

Leave a Reply