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.
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 Netherlands – docP
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
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
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