Activism

#WeAreUnderApartheid: Exclude the complicit Jerusalem Film Festival from We Are One

Filmmakers, Palestinian rights groups and cultural organizations urge participating filmmakers to withdraw from We Are One
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Editor’s Note: The following statement was published today by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). Mondoweiss occasionally publishes press releases and statements from organizations in an effort to draw attention to overlooked issues.

We, the undersigned Palestinian rights organizations, filmmakers, other artists and cultural organizations call on Tribeca Enterprises to exclude the Jerusalem Film Festival (JFF) from the We Are One film festival, and we urge conscientious filmmakers to withdraw if it does not, due to the JFF’s blatant complicity in lsrael’s human rights violations and its role in artwashing those violations.

The Jerusalem Film Festival is sponsored by the extremist Israeli government, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and the Israeli Antiquities Authority, as well as by the Jerusalem Development Authority and the Jerusalem Foundation, among others. These entities all perpetrate war crimes and other serious violations of international law against Palestinians or are implicated in justifying and covering up those violations.

The Jerusalem Foundation has partnered with the fanatic and illegal settler group Elad to appropriate and whitewash Palestinian cultural heritage in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, the so-called ‘City of David’. The excavations and following colonization, or what Israel calls “Judaization”, of Jerusalem have been condemned by UNESCO.

The Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA) illegally expropriates Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem for the development of so-called Biblical parks. Hundreds of Palestinians have been displaced or are at risk of being forced out of their homes to make space for these parks in violation of the Geneva Conventions. The JDA has also been instrumental in the expansion of illegal settlements in East Jerusalem, such as Gilo.

Israel’s Ministry of Culture regards the arts as crucial in whitewashing Israel’s apartheid regime, and has attempted to freeze funds for arts organisations criticising Israeli policies or defending Palestinian rights under international law.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, another of the Jerusalem Film Festival’s major sponsors, openly confesses to artwashing Israel’s crimes. A former deputy director general at the ministry, Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, admitted that “We are seeing culture as a hasbara [propaganda] tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture.”

Pro-Israel lobby groups active in the film industry — such as the so-called “Creative Community for Peace” (CCFP) — cynically claim to advocate for “building bridges”, yet never speak out against Israel’s growing repression of both Palestinian and Jewish Israeli cultural workers who are critical of its far-right government’s apartheid, occupation and colonial policies.

CCFP are in fact a front for anti-Palestinian, Israeli government-tied lobby group StandWithUs, a key partner of which is Christians United for Israel, headed by the homophobic, racist and sexist pastor John Hagee. CCFP, too, say they are “developing strategies to deal with [the] troubling and growing trend” of intersectionality and grassroots solidarity between Black Americans and Palestinians.

We understand that the donations from We Are One’s viewers will be used to benefit the WHO and other health organisations fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. While this is an honourable aim, it cannot justify or excuse complicity in ongoing human rights violations. In fact, Israel’s oppression and #CoronaRacism have made fighting the pandemic even more difficult for Palestinians.

During a time when governments across the world have taken extraordinary measures to protect people from the deadly virus, Israel has demolished a makeshift Palestinian clinic intended to care for Covid-19 patients in the occupied Jordan Valley and denied testing to entire communities of Palestinian citizens of Israel. It has also failed to make accurate, up-to-date coronavirus information available in Arabic for Palestinian citizens.

How can any institution complicit in crimes such as these be promoted as helping to “benefit Covid-19 relief funds”?

In these unprecedented times, our ethical responsibilities to each other are more important than ever if we are to envision and build a world of peace, justice and equality. There is no room in such a world for institutions that oppress, colonize, or justify apartheid.

For this reason, we urge Tribeca Enterprises to exclude the Jerusalem Film Festival from the We Are One film festival. If it does not, we call on participating filmmakers who support human rights for all people, including Palestinians, to withdraw from We Are One, just as they would have withdrawn from an event partnered with a complicit South African festival during apartheid there.

Signed,

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Adalah-NY: Campaign for the Boycott of Israel

Artists for Palestine UK

Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (the French Association of Academics for Respect for International Law in Palestine – AURDIP)

BDS Berlin

BDS Egypt

BDS France

BDS Jordan

BDS Maroc

BDS Netherlands – docP

BDS Switzerland

Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within

Boykot Israel Denmark

French Jewish Union For Peace (UJFP)

Gaza Action Ireland

Gibanje za pravice Palestincev, BDS Slovenia

Gruppo Ibriq per la cultura e la causa palestinese

ICAHD Finland

Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Jewish Voice for Peace (US)

Labor for Palestine (US)

Moroccan Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK

Red Solidaria Contra la Ocupación de Palestina (RESCOP)

Salaam Ragazzi dell’Olivo, Comitato di Trieste

Tunisian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel 

Yalla Indivisible 

Fatma Cherif, filmmaker and general delegate of the festival gabes cinéma fen

Samia Labidi, director

Mohammad Bakri, actor and director

Nadine Naous, director

Amira Chebli, actor

Anissa Daoud, actor and director

Samaher AlQadi, director

Imed Marzouk, producer

Aïcha Filali, artist

Azza Chaabouni, film lecturer-researcher, film editor

Ramzi Jebabli, Sicca Jazz festival director

Driss Chouika, director

Manal Souissi, Fédération Tunisienne des Ciné-Clubs

Intissar Belaid, director

Al Nasser Sardi, film critic

Insaf Mashta, film critic

AlHabib Balhadi, producer

Mohammad AlFraini, distributor

Shiraz Bin Murad, film critic

Saleh Hamoudeh, dramatist

Hatem Bin Milad, director and producer

The Network for Arab Alternative Screens (NAAS)

Rencontres cinématographiques Palestine: Filmer C’est Exister (PFC’E)

DOCUMENTARIST – Istanbul Documentary Days

ElTeatro, espace indépendant d’art et de création, Tunis

Association Zanoobya, art et créativité, Tunis

The RIO Cinema Theater, Tunisia

Sada Cinema Association, Tunisia

Espace Mass’ART, Tunisia

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