Roger Ebert amends his review of the Toronto protest

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Two thumbs way up for Roger Ebert. He has done an about-face on his criticisms of the protests against the Toronto International Film Festival’s City to City program with Tel Aviv. Here is part of the what Ebert had to say initially on his Journal from Toronto:

The protest is misguided and destructive. For what it’s worth, I believe the Palestinians deserve a homeland, and that Israel’s treatment of them has not been worthy of a nation that was itself founded as a homeland. But the artists of a nation cannot be fairly held responsible for the politics of that nation. All "sister cities" programs have a similar objective, to increase person-to-person contact with people from different lands. The City-to-City program, featuring filmmakers based in Tel Aviv, doesn’t link Canada and Israel, but simply spotlights recent work from a center of much recent cinematic achievement.

And then a day later he added this:

I’m writing this the day after first posting this entry. I now regret it. The point I make about artists is perfectly valid but I realize I wasn’t prepared with enough facts about the events leading up to the Festival’s decision to showcase Tel Aviv in the City-to-City section. I thought of it as an innocent goodwill gesture, but now realize it was part of a deliberate plan to "re-brand" Israel in Toronto, as a pilot for a larger such program. The Festival should never have agreed to be used like this. It was naive for the plan’s supporters to believe it would have the effect they hoped for.

If only all reporting on Israel/Palestine had such integrity. Ebert seems to acknowledge that critical comments made on the site led him to reconsider. If so, thanks to Mondo regulars Bruce Wolman, Dan Kelly and Jawad for helping to clarify the issue for him.

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