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Italian BDS activists call on Unicef to pull out of cartoon festival honoring Israel

on 13 Comments

On April 16, the Cartoons on the Bay animation festival will kick off in Venice, Italy. Organized by RAI, Italian state television, the international festival, in its 18th edition, focuses on television animation for children, with categories including TV series for preschoolers and tweens as well as animated films on social issues.

It is difficult to imagine, therefore, a more inappropriate choice as guest of honor at this year’s festival than Israel. Cartoons on the Bay will be giving Israel the Pulcinella Award 2015 as a tribute to the country’s ability to produce “interesting, original and innovative” animated cartoons despite its “delicate geopolitical context.”

Tallying the tragic numbers documented by the Israeli organization B’Tselem and the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), shows that nearly 2,000 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli military forces over the past 15 years, including 551 in the attacks on Gaza last summer.

In just one week in mid-March, Israeli forces shot nine Palestinian children with live ammunition.

Israel also arrests, interrogates and detains and prosecutes an average of 500-700 Palestinian children per year, with over 8,000 Palestinian children detained by Israel between 2000 and 2013. In a sinister twist, children are denied bail in approximately 90 percent of the cases.

Night raids terrorizing Palestinian children are common place, as seen in this video where fully armed Israeli soldiers storm bedrooms, forcing sleeping children as young as four years old from their beds in the dead of the night.

In an open letter to festival organizers, BDS Italy asked what criteria was used to select Israel as “guest country” to a festival of animation for children “when it has shown that it has absolutely no regard or respect for Palestinian youth and children?”

The letter calls on the taxpayer funded television network RAI to cancel Israel’s participation in the festival due to its “repressive and discriminatory policies” imposed on Palestinian children.

It also calls on two of the festival’s sponsors, UNICEF, the UN agency committed to defending children’s rights and wellbeing, and the Italian section of the International Animated Film Association (ASIFA) to withdraw their support as long as Israel continues to be guest of honor.

UNICEF is fully aware of Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights, in particular the detention of minors,  and has documented what it calls the “widespread, systematic and institutionalized” ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israel’s military detention system.

AISFA – Italy, which aims to promote “progress towards peace and understanding through our unified interest in the art of animation.

Both organizations should either use their positions to convince the festival organizers that a country involved in denying children their basic rights has no place in a cartoon festival, or withdraw support.

Logo: BDS Italia

Logo: BDS Italia

Stephanie Westbrook

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13 Responses

  1. pabelmont on April 8, 2015, 1:16 pm

    Interesting. The invitation cannot have been made because of Israel’s care of children (not even Israeli-Jewish children, who are heavily militarized in schools) and so must have been made because of political (money) instigation. I hope the human rights people succeed in excluding Israel entirely from the festival, basing their exclusion precisely on human-rights arguments as given in the essay.

  2. just on April 8, 2015, 6:01 pm

    Great graphic, article, and action! Thanks, Stephanie.

    Wow, the irony is breathtaking. UNICEF, originally named United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, should be so ashamed. They need to step up and out on this one.

    Tell it & yell it LOUD:

    Palestinian children live in a constant state of emergency, and have since the Nakba started. The Nakba continues to this minute.

  3. mariapalestina on April 9, 2015, 12:58 pm

    A bit O/T but I couldn’t let the day pass without mentioning it was 67 years ago that the Deir Yassin massacre happened. And the Nakba continues.

    • Walid on April 9, 2015, 2:16 pm

      I wonder what Hophmi and Yonah would have to say about Deir Yassin. But I’m sure they’ll pass on it.

      • just on April 9, 2015, 2:27 pm

        One of many massacres of Palestinians by Israel and their violent ‘settlers’.

        Thanks for remembering, mariapalestina.

        The Nakba continues…

      • eljay on April 9, 2015, 2:30 pm

        || Walid: I wonder what Hophmi and Yonah would have to say about Deir Yassin. ||

        Possibly some sort of riff on “liberal Zionist” RW’s thoughts about the Nakba:

        “I cannot consistently say that a massacre like the one at Deir Yassin is ‘never necessary’.”

        “I feel that the Deir Yassin massacre was a necessary wrong.”

        “If I was an adult in 1948, I probably would have supported whatever it took to conduct the Deir Yassin massacre, and held my nose at actions that I could not possibly do myself.”

        “The Deir Yassin massacre that occurred in 1948 was a step toward the independence, the liberation, of the Jewish community. So, I primarily celebrate … “

      • annie on April 9, 2015, 2:39 pm

        I wonder what Hophmi and Yonah would have to say about Deir Yassin. But I’m sure they’ll pass on it.

        yes, they would. long discussion last year

        neither showed up.

      • wondering jew on April 9, 2015, 10:10 pm

        Walid- 1. The decision of the Jewish Zionists in Israel to pursue statehood in 47 and 48 is understandable and even today if I was standing next to them I could not tell them to do otherwise. By that point in time they had achieved sufficient size and confidence that there was really no turning them back. I admire Judah Magnes and his predictions about the nature of statehood have proved true. But I could not tell Ben Gurion “You are wrong. Magnes is right.” Not that my saying it would have made any difference, but the moment of history had arrived and Ben Gurion grabbed it.
        2. The decision to pursue statehood and the Nakba, that is the exile or expulsion or ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians from the new state of Israel cannot really be separated from one another. That is: the state that Ben Gurion wished to proclaim was not going to be one in which there would be a significant Palestinian population. It is feasible that had someone else been at the head of the Zionist movement that the war of 47 to 48 might have been fought without the goal of exiling the Palestinians. But this was one of Ben Gurion’s goals of how the new state would come into being: with the expulsion of the majority of Palestinians.
        3. I see Deir Yassin in that context.
        4. Without that context: I see the battle for Jerusalem to be a battle for the survival of the large Jewish population in Jerusalem and the battle for Deir Yassin in that context.
        5. The trained, disciplined soldiers of the Hagana and the Palmach were capable of cruelty and were cruel on different occasions. the untrained troops of the Irgun and Lehi (Stern Gang) had their own histories of cruelty and included in that history is what occurred at Deir Yassin.

      • Walid on April 9, 2015, 11:53 pm

        Thanks for answering, Yonah. What you are saying in a nutshell is that Jews did what Jews had to to do and that you somehow regret that the Palestinians had to pay the price for it. This does not justify what happened to the 750,000 Palestinians that got shut out.

        I’m not against Jews having ended up there, I’m against Paletinians having been kept out and this is the great sin in which Israel was born.

    • Keith on April 9, 2015, 4:37 pm

      MARIAPALESTINA- “A bit O/T but I couldn’t let the day pass without mentioning it was 67 years ago that the Deir Yassin massacre happened.”

      I think it worth mentioning that Deir Yassin was selected specifically because they had good relations with the surrounding Zionist colonists. This was to send an unambiguous message to the rest of the Palestinians that having good relations with Jews would afford no protection. The Jewish state would need to terrorize the Arabs into fleeing so that they could be the great majority and could therefore afford the nominally democratic trapping to be able to claim to be Jewish and democratic. The democratic image was seen as essential to receiving ongoing Western support. Menachem Begin defended the massacre claiming that there would not have been an Israel without it.

      “The massacre at Deir Yassin was widely publicized by the terrorists and the numerous heaped corpses displayed to the media. In Jaffe, which was at the time 98 percent Arab, as well as in other Arab communities, speaker trucks drove through the streets warning the population to flee and threatening another Deir Yassin. Begin said at the time, “We created terror among the Arabs and all the villages around. In one blow, we changed the strategic situation.” (William Martin)

      • Walid on April 10, 2015, 12:01 am

        It’s worth adding that before the massacre, Deir Yassin had an understanding with the area’s Jews that it would remain outside the conflict with them and it was still respecting that agreement when it was attacked by the Zionist butchers. The ongoing rapes and killing of villagers was stopped by Jews from neighbouring villages that interceded.

      • Shmuel on April 15, 2015, 3:35 pm

        Hi Walid,

        I was in the old part of Givat Shaul (the Jewish village you refer to) a couple of weeks ago, to visit my niece and her husband who just moved into what appears to be one of the neighbourhood’s original buildings, and couldn’t help thinking that it’s one of the few areas of West Jerusalem that feels “right” to me. It is still an Orthodox neighbourhood, as it was in ’48. I also felt a duty to remember Deir Yassin in my conversations there.

      • just on April 15, 2015, 4:04 pm

        Oh, Happy Day!

        Shmuel~ you’ve been ever so missed!

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