Film makers, Actors, and Activists Protest Toronto Film Fest For Tel Aviv Spotlight

The 2009 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has received a lot of attention this week after over 50 film makers, actors, academics, and activists signed and released a statement called the “Toronto Declaration: No Celebration of Occupation”. The 2009 festival chose to highlight Tel Aviv with 10 films by local filmmakers for its City to City Program and this prompted the protests because the individuals felt that “TIFF, whether intentionally or not, has become complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine.” The Jerusalem Post reported that some of the various individuals who signed the statement include American Actors Jane Fonda and Danny Glover, musician David Byrne, film-maker Ken Loach, and authors Naomi Klein and Howard Zinn.

American Actor Danny Glover

The open letter to the TIFF highlighted several reasons for the withdrawal from the festival. One reason was because that the festival was celebrating Tel Aviv as a city of diversity while Palestinian film-makers were absent from the program. Furthermore, the history of the city, which includes the struggles of Palestinian people is excluded and is also indirectly being celebrated through this spotlight.

“The emphasis on ‘diversity’ in City to City is empty given the absence of Palestinian filmmakers in the program. Furthermore, what this description does not say is that Tel Aviv is built on destroyed Palestinian villages, and that the city of Jaffa, Palestine’s main cultural hub until 1948, was annexed to Tel Aviv after the mass exiling of the Palestinian population. This program ignores the suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants of the Tel Aviv/Jaffa area who currently live in refugee camps in the Occupied Territories or who have been dispersed to other countries, including Canada.”

The letter also included another dimension of critcism against Israel by drawing parallels between Apartheid South Africa and Israel at times.

“Looking at modern, sophisticated Tel Aviv without also considering the city’s past and the realities of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip, would be like rhapsodizing about the beauty and elegant lifestyles in white-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during apartheid without acknowledging the corresponding black townships of Khayelitsha and Soweto.”

“However, especially in the wake of this year’s brutal assault on Gaza, we object to the use of such an important international festival in staging a propaganda campaign on behalf of what South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and UN General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann have all characterized as an apartheid regime.”

The protest began originally with film-maker John Greyson from Canada who withdrew his documentary “Covered”, which is about the violence in Bosnia-Herzengovina that shut down the 2008 Sarajevo Queer Festival, the Washington Times reported. In a later email Greyson added that,

“We’re not protesting the Israeli films or the filmmakers our target is TIFF’s Spotlight on Tel Aviv itself, and specifically its connections to the ‘Brand Israel’ campaign and the Israeli Consulate, which make the spotlight look and feel like a propaganda exercise. As filmmakers and audiences, we’re telling TIFF that eight months since the Gaza massacre, this is no time to be uncritically ‘celebrating’ Tel Aviv”

Critics of the protest have also spoken out in favor of the festival and Israel. Rabbi Marvin Hier was critical of those who signed the letter and was reported by TMZ as saying that “Whoever would sign on to a campaign like this would support the complete destruction of Israel.” Jane Fonda replied to the accusations with a statement issued saying,

“I, in no way, support the destruction of Israel. I am for the two-state solution. I have been to Israel many times and love the country and its people.”

The director of the TIFF, Richard Moore also spoke out and called this protest an effort to censor the films and the festival saying that, “Loach’s demands were beyond the pale. As a supporter of independent film and filmmaking he should be ashamed of himself.”

Even amidst criticism, Loach, O’Brien, and Laverty and many others have defended their decision to withdraw from the festival and encouraged others to take part in the greater international Boycott and Divestment Campaign any way that they could.

“On this site last week, Neve Gordon, a Jewish political professor teaching in an Israeli university argued: “The most accurate way to describe Israel today is an apartheid state.” As a result he too is supporting the international campaign of divestment and boycott. We feel duty bound to take advice from those living at the sharp end inside the occupied territories. We would also encourage other film-makers and actors invited to festivals to check for Israeli state backing before attending, and if so, to respect the boycott. Israeli film-makers are not the target. State involvement is. In the grand scale of things it is a tiny contribution to a growing movement, but the example of South Africa should give us heart.”

Amnesty International has taken no position on cultural or other boycotts anywhere in the world, though it does advocate sanctions in certain circumstances, as when it calls for embargoes on arms supplies to states or other parties in a conflict where such could be used to attack civilians. Earlier this year AI called for an arms embargo against both Israel and armed Palestinian groups, including Hamas, in light of evidence of war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law during the December 2008-January 2009 conflict in Gaza.

Sana Javed contributed to this post.

UPDATE: I just changed the title of the blog post to reflect that the film makers, actors, and activists are in fact protesting the TFF and not boycotting. My apologies for the error.

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

216 thoughts on “Film makers, Actors, and Activists Protest Toronto Film Fest For Tel Aviv Spotlight

  1. "TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Sept. 10, 2009) – The organizers of the Toronto Declaration – No Celebration of Occupation are pleased to announce that more than 1000 people from around the world-including many Israelis-have signed on in protest of TIFF's City-to-City Spotlight on Tel Aviv. New signatories include music and cinematic legends Harry Belafonte and Julie Christie. Actor Viggo Mortensen, who will be attending this year's festival, just added his name. Leading intellectual figures Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler and Anne McClintock have also recently endorsed the declaration, along with prominent Canadian writers Rawi Hage, Joy Kogawa, Dionne Brand, and Kerri Sakamoto. Celebrated local filmmakers Velcro Ripper, Min Sook Lee and Lynne Fernie have also signed the letter.

    International support for the declaration continues to grow despite denunciations, unfounded personal attacks on earlier signatories Jane Fonda and Danny Glover, and despite an aggressive campaign of misinformation regarding the letter's content."
    http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Toronto-D

  2. I am from vancouver,canada and i wanted to say that it is good that some well known personalities from Holywood are boycotting the toronto international film festival.The majority of people in the world won't let the gov. of israel get away with commiting war crimes against the palestinian people without being punished.

    Stan Squires

  3. "TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Sept. 10, 2009) – The organizers of the Toronto Declaration – No Celebration of Occupation are pleased to announce that more than 1000 people from around the world-including many Israelis-have signed on in protest of TIFF's City-to-City Spotlight on Tel Aviv. New signatories include music and cinematic legends Harry Belafonte and Julie Christie. Actor Viggo Mortensen, who will be attending this year's festival, just added his name. Leading intellectual figures Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler and Anne McClintock have also recently endorsed the declaration, along with prominent Canadian writers Rawi Hage, Joy Kogawa, Dionne Brand, and Kerri Sakamoto. Celebrated local filmmakers Velcro Ripper, Min Sook Lee and Lynne Fernie have also signed the letter.

    International support for the declaration continues to grow despite denunciations, unfounded personal attacks on earlier signatories Jane Fonda and Danny Glover, and despite an aggressive campaign of misinformation regarding the letter's content."
    http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Toronto-D

  4. "TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Sept. 10, 2009) – The organizers of the Toronto Declaration – No Celebration of Occupation are pleased to announce that more than 1000 people from around the world-including many Israelis-have signed on in protest of TIFF's City-to-City Spotlight on Tel Aviv. New signatories include music and cinematic legends Harry Belafonte and Julie Christie. Actor Viggo Mortensen, who will be attending this year's festival, just added his name. Leading intellectual figures Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler and Anne McClintock have also recently endorsed the declaration, along with prominent Canadian writers Rawi Hage, Joy Kogawa, Dionne Brand, and Kerri Sakamoto. Celebrated local filmmakers Velcro Ripper, Min Sook Lee and Lynne Fernie have also signed the letter.

    International support for the declaration continues to grow despite denunciations, unfounded personal attacks on earlier signatories Jane Fonda and Danny Glover, and despite an aggressive campaign of misinformation regarding the letter's content."
    http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Toronto-D

  5. I am from vancouver,canada and i wanted to say that it is good that some well known personalities from Holywood are boycotting the toronto international film festival.The majority of people in the world won’t let the gov. of israel get away with commiting war crimes against the palestinian people without being punished.

    Stan Squires

  6. “TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Sept. 10, 2009) – The organizers of the Toronto Declaration – No Celebration of Occupation are pleased to announce that more than 1000 people from around the world-including many Israelis-have signed on in protest of TIFF’s City-to-City Spotlight on Tel Aviv. New signatories include music and cinematic legends Harry Belafonte and Julie Christie. Actor Viggo Mortensen, who will be attending this year’s festival, just added his name. Leading intellectual figures Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler and Anne McClintock have also recently endorsed the declaration, along with prominent Canadian writers Rawi Hage, Joy Kogawa, Dionne Brand, and Kerri Sakamoto. Celebrated local filmmakers Velcro Ripper, Min Sook Lee and Lynne Fernie have also signed the letter.

    International support for the declaration continues to grow despite denunciations, unfounded personal attacks on earlier signatories Jane Fonda and Danny Glover, and despite an aggressive campaign of misinformation regarding the letter’s content.”

    http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Toronto-Declaration-Ad-Hoc-Committee-1042719.html

  7. I wonder.

    If the positions were reversed, and Palestine was the (now/current) Israel, and the state of Israel was (the now/current) Gaza and West Bank, and the Palestinian state was doing to the Israeli state, what now/current Israeli state is doing to the Palestinians, what would the international reaction be?

  8. Sebastian,

    I believe you misunderstand. The signatories are not boycotting the screening of Israeli films, matter of fact, there are quite a few Israeli artists that are signed on to the protest, but the spotlight on Tel Aviv – or active 'branding of Israel'.

    Back in April 2008, when the Gaza Strip had been under a punitive blockade and there was a humanitarian crisis underway [See the report 'The Gaza Strip: Humanitarian Implosion' at http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/downloads/oxfam... published March 2008] a professor at Tel Aviv University in a study found that Israel's image abroad was not positive and that Israel needed to become active in 'nation branding' just like a business.

    Since that time, several PR events have taken place to accentuate Israel's contributions to the fields of art, culture, science, music, etc … and as stated in post, "The 2009 festival chose to highlight Tel Aviv with 10 films by local filmmakers for its City to City Program and this prompted the protests because the individuals felt that “TIFF, whether intentionally or not, has become complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine.” "

    The spotlight on Tel Aviv celebrates Tel Aviv while ignoring how it came to be and it's current treatment of Palestinian Israelis living in and near the town.

  9. I really appreciate the brave festival decision on showing Tel Aviv as a feature city. This shows the great mentality of Canadians and the quality of the Toronto festival. Unfortunately I've heard about the event after the protest…and I wonder if they would still protest if they screen films on Tehran (which has also a great film industry). These people only see with the eye of hate, and do not recognize than Tel Aviv is probably the only city from Morocco to India that women and gays have true civil rights.
    Thanks Toronto!

  10. Cassandra,

    I truly believe activists everywhere would react the same way.

    I'm a cynic when it comes to governments, but have faith in the individual.

    If the situation were reversed, nations would most likely hem and haw, bantering words back and forth while people continue to suffer because of injustices.

    But the individual, they would act. The human rights activists I know spoke out against the torture policies of the U.S. back when it wasn't popular to do so and they speak out for accountability now. They speak out for justice for Troy Davis. They speak out on behalf of the voiceless detained with no due process here in U.S. immigrant detention centers and they speak out against atrocities in Sri Lanka. They speak out against the use of sex as a weapon in the Dem. Republic of the Congo and on behalf of the Roma in Europe.

    Human rights and peace activists believe in the human, the individual. We believe "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963.

  11. Sebastian,

    I believe you misunderstand. The signatories are not boycotting the screening of Israeli films, matter of fact, there are quite a few Israeli artists that are signed on to the protest, but the spotlight on Tel Aviv – or active 'branding of Israel'.

    Back in April 2008, when the Gaza Strip had been under a punitive blockade and there was a humanitarian crisis underway [See the report 'The Gaza Strip: Humanitarian Implosion' at http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/downloads/oxfam... published March 2008] a professor at Tel Aviv University in a study found that Israel's image abroad was not positive and that Israel needed to become active in 'nation branding' just like a business.

    Since that time, several PR events have taken place to accentuate Israel's contributions to the fields of art, culture, science, music, etc … and as stated in post, "The 2009 festival chose to highlight Tel Aviv with 10 films by local filmmakers for its City to City Program and this prompted the protests because the individuals felt that “TIFF, whether intentionally or not, has become complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine.” "

    The spotlight on Tel Aviv celebrates Tel Aviv while ignoring how it came to be and it's current treatment of Palestinian Israelis living in and near the town.

  12. Sebastian,

    I believe you misunderstand. The signatories are not boycotting the screening of Israeli films, matter of fact, there are quite a few Israeli artists that are signed on to the protest, but the spotlight on Tel Aviv – or active 'branding of Israel'.

    Back in April 2008, when the Gaza Strip had been under a punitive blockade and there was a humanitarian crisis underway [See the report 'The Gaza Strip: Humanitarian Implosion' at http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/downloads/oxfam... published March 2008] a professor at Tel Aviv University in a study found that Israel's image abroad was not positive and that Israel needed to become active in 'nation branding' just like a business.

    Since that time, several PR events have taken place to accentuate Israel's contributions to the fields of art, culture, science, music, etc … and as stated in post, "The 2009 festival chose to highlight Tel Aviv with 10 films by local filmmakers for its City to City Program and this prompted the protests because the individuals felt that “TIFF, whether intentionally or not, has become complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine.” "

    The spotlight on Tel Aviv celebrates Tel Aviv while ignoring how it came to be and it's current treatment of Palestinian Israelis living in and near the town.

  13. I wonder.

    If the positions were reversed, and Palestine was the (now/current) Israel, and the state of Israel was (the now/current) Gaza and West Bank, and the Palestinian state was doing to the Israeli state, what now/current Israeli state is doing to the Palestinians, what would the international reaction be?

  14. I really appreciate the brave festival decision on showing Tel Aviv as a feature city. This shows the great mentality of Canadians and the quality of the Toronto festival. Unfortunately I’ve heard about the event after the protest…and I wonder if they would still protest if they screen films on Tehran (which has also a great film industry). These people only see with the eye of hate, and do not recognize than Tel Aviv is probably the only city from Morocco to India that women and gays have true civil rights.
    Thanks Toronto!

  15. Cassandra,

    I truly believe activists everywhere would react the same way.

    I’m a cynic when it comes to governments, but have faith in the individual.

    If the situation were reversed, nations would most likely hem and haw, bantering words back and forth while people continue to suffer because of injustices.

    But the individual, they would act. The human rights activists I know spoke out against the torture policies of the U.S. back when it wasn’t popular to do so and they speak out for accountability now. They speak out for justice for Troy Davis. They speak out on behalf of the voiceless detained with no due process here in U.S. immigrant detention centers and they speak out against atrocities in Sri Lanka. They speak out against the use of sex as a weapon in the Dem. Republic of the Congo and on behalf of the Roma in Europe.

    Human rights and peace activists believe in the human, the individual. We believe “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963.

  16. Sebastian,

    I believe you misunderstand. The signatories are not boycotting the screening of Israeli films, matter of fact, there are quite a few Israeli artists that are signed on to the protest, but the spotlight on Tel Aviv – or active ‘branding of Israel’.

    Back in April 2008, when the Gaza Strip had been under a punitive blockade and there was a humanitarian crisis underway [See the report 'The Gaza Strip: Humanitarian Implosion' at http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/downloads/oxfam_gaza_lowres.pdf published March 2008] a professor at Tel Aviv University in a study found that Israel’s image abroad was not positive and that Israel needed to become active in ‘nation branding’ just like a business.

    Since that time, several PR events have taken place to accentuate Israel’s contributions to the fields of art, culture, science, music, etc … and as stated in post, “The 2009 festival chose to highlight Tel Aviv with 10 films by local filmmakers for its City to City Program and this prompted the protests because the individuals felt that “TIFF, whether intentionally or not, has become complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine.” ”

    The spotlight on Tel Aviv celebrates Tel Aviv while ignoring how it came to be and it’s current treatment of Palestinian Israelis living in and near the town.

  17. The aim of the boycott seems clear: it is in no way positioned against the Israeli film-makers but against the state of Israel's propaganda.
    I reckon it takes some courage from American actors to dare oppose any lobbies linked to it.

  18. Pingback: Marvel Comics Universe Float from the 1988 Macy’s Parade « comics

  19. The aim of the boycott seems clear: it is in no way positioned against the Israeli film-makers but against the state of Israel’s propaganda.
    I reckon it takes some courage from American actors to dare oppose any lobbies linked to it.

  20. Tel Aviv's first neighbourhood was founded in 1887, long before the establishment of the State of Israel, so I'm not sure how it would have been built on "destroyed Palestinian villages".

  21. We have heard these arguments before. The Israeli people have offered peace, fought for peace, and it is the palestinian people who have rejected land for peace. To say that Israel is "occupied land" is to sat that Manhattan is occupied land. Rockets landing on Israel, killing Israelis without provocation is not the actions of those who support peace. The only "propaganda" is that sold by my fellow liberals Danny Glover, Howard Zinn and David Byrne whom I love and respect in so many ways but are just dead wrong on this issue of who the good guys and bad guys are in the Middle East.

  22. Tel Aviv’s first neighbourhood was founded in 1887, long before the establishment of the State of Israel, so I’m not sure how it would have been built on “destroyed Palestinian villages”.

  23. Stephen, I concur. It is a popular misconception that Israel stole the Palestinians' homeland. Palestine included all of what is now Jordan and Israel. Palestine was partitioned into Jordan and Israel. Those who did not wish to stay in Israel were free to migrate to Jordan. Jordan is the Palestinian homeland. Those who stayed in Israel were granted Israeli citizenship. Most of them refused to assimilate into society, instead vowing to destroy the state.

    Israel has been militarily attacked without provocation from without and within time after time after time, and when they respond in their own defense, somehow it is politically vogue to characterize them as criminals. This simply does not compute.

  24. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/ther

    There's justice, and then there's propaganda.
    by Robert Lantos, an award-winning Canadian film producer.

    I am not a professional agitator and I don't write political missives for a living. I am a filmmaker, however, and I have a very long history with the Toronto International Film Festival, which I have had the honour of opening 10 times. I write this from the set of Mordecai Richler's Barney's Version, whose hero, Barney Panofsky, would undoubtedly share my view: Enough is enough!

    There is a difference between most people and professional propagandists. The latter serve their cause by repeating a false statement of “fact” so often and with such emphasis that decent people think there must at least be a modicum of truth to it.

    This age-old but effective propaganda technique has, as of late, given rise to such blatant falsehoods as “Israeli apartheid,” or, to quote Naomi Klein's open letter to TIFF last week, “The city of Jaffa [was] Palestine's main cultural hub until 1948.” This seemingly factual statement fails to mention the detail that there was no such thing as Palestine prior to 1948. The city of Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 in what was then a Turkish colony, later a British colony and once upon a time a Roman colony, consisting of lands from which the indigenous Jewish population had been forcefully – though never fully – evicted.

    The headline of last week's open letter, protesting the focus on films by Tel Aviv filmmakers, was “No celebration of occupation,” which incorrectly implies that Tel Aviv is occupied territory. We are not talking about the West Bank or the Golan Heights here, but the biggest population centre in the heart of Israel, where the first neighbourhood was built in 1887. If that is disputed territory, then Ms. Klein and her armchair storm troopers are clamouring for nothing short of the annihilation of the Jewish state. They are effectively Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's local fifth column.

    The Toronto festival is showcasing movies made by filmmakers from Tel Aviv. This foul and coercive attempt to disrupt the display of their talent simply because they are citizens of the Jewish state is not just an Israeli issue. It is a Canadian issue. It is an assault on our most cherished values, on the very reason why my family chose to immigrate to this country. In Canada, we hold our freedom of expression sacred. Filmmaking is free of political censorship and festivals are free to program whatever they wish.

    TIFF's independence was hard won. In 1978, when my first movie, In Praise of Older Women, was shown at the opening-night gala, the Ontario Censor Board attempted to prevent it from being shown, demanding cuts. The fundamental logic of censorship is premised on the principle of in loco parentis: that the censor knows better what's good for people than they know themselves. We defied the censors and my film was shown uncut. In the 30 years since, the festival has operated without interference or sanctions. Until now.

    I don't hold with the lashing of women for the “crime” of wearing trousers, but I don't believe the festival should boycott films from Malaysia. I'm not a fan of Iran's dictatorship, but that doesn't give me the right to demand the festival cancel Iranian film screenings.

    Ironically, the boycott Tel Aviv affair began over filmmaker John Greyson's decision to withdraw his short documentary Covered to protest the presence of Israeli films. His film documents the disruption, by local homophobes, of the Sarajevo Queer Film Festival.

    As Mr. Greyson, Ms. Klein and their mob know perfectly well, Israel is the only country in its region where a film like his could be made and shown without government interference, and where no one is persecuted or discriminated against because of his or her sexual persuasion. The protesters obediently kowtow to the party line of autocratic regimes and terrorist organizations who would not hesitate, given the opportunity, to dispatch Mr. Greyson and his film to a painful fate, which regardless of our differences, I would not wish on anyone.

    Let us be clear. If Ms. Klein was truly interested in justice, she would be alarmed by the screening of films from countries such as China and Iran, where civil liberties are in short supply. She would be marching in front of the theatre showing the film from Malaysia. But their crusade is against a tried and thoroughly tested target: Jews. Today, it is Jewish filmmakers from Tel Aviv who are in their sights, but their ultimate objective is far more ambitious and devastating.

    So I repeat – enough is enough. Their brand of censorship is at odds with our society's fundamental values: freedom of expression and freedom of individual choice. Incitement like theirs has no place at TIFF.

  25. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/ther

    There's justice, and then there's propaganda.
    by Robert Lantos, an award-winning Canadian film producer.

    I am not a professional agitator and I don't write political missives for a living. I am a filmmaker, however, and I have a very long history with the Toronto International Film Festival, which I have had the honour of opening 10 times. I write this from the set of Mordecai Richler's Barney's Version, whose hero, Barney Panofsky, would undoubtedly share my view: Enough is enough!

    There is a difference between most people and professional propagandists. The latter serve their cause by repeating a false statement of “fact” so often and with such emphasis that decent people think there must at least be a modicum of truth to it.

    This age-old but effective propaganda technique has, as of late, given rise to such blatant falsehoods as “Israeli apartheid,” or, to quote Naomi Klein's open letter to TIFF last week, “The city of Jaffa [was] Palestine's main cultural hub until 1948.” This seemingly factual statement fails to mention the detail that there was no such thing as Palestine prior to 1948. The city of Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 in what was then a Turkish colony, later a British colony and once upon a time a Roman colony, consisting of lands from which the indigenous Jewish population had been forcefully – though never fully – evicted.

    The headline of last week's open letter, protesting the focus on films by Tel Aviv filmmakers, was “No celebration of occupation,” which incorrectly implies that Tel Aviv is occupied territory. We are not talking about the West Bank or the Golan Heights here, but the biggest population centre in the heart of Israel, where the first neighbourhood was built in 1887. If that is disputed territory, then Ms. Klein and her armchair storm troopers are clamouring for nothing short of the annihilation of the Jewish state. They are effectively Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's local fifth column.

    The Toronto festival is showcasing movies made by filmmakers from Tel Aviv. This foul and coercive attempt to disrupt the display of their talent simply because they are citizens of the Jewish state is not just an Israeli issue. It is a Canadian issue. It is an assault on our most cherished values, on the very reason why my family chose to immigrate to this country. In Canada, we hold our freedom of expression sacred. Filmmaking is free of political censorship and festivals are free to program whatever they wish.

    TIFF's independence was hard won. In 1978, when my first movie, In Praise of Older Women, was shown at the opening-night gala, the Ontario Censor Board attempted to prevent it from being shown, demanding cuts. The fundamental logic of censorship is premised on the principle of in loco parentis: that the censor knows better what's good for people than they know themselves. We defied the censors and my film was shown uncut. In the 30 years since, the festival has operated without interference or sanctions. Until now.

    I don't hold with the lashing of women for the “crime” of wearing trousers, but I don't believe the festival should boycott films from Malaysia. I'm not a fan of Iran's dictatorship, but that doesn't give me the right to demand the festival cancel Iranian film screenings.

    Ironically, the boycott Tel Aviv affair began over filmmaker John Greyson's decision to withdraw his short documentary Covered to protest the presence of Israeli films. His film documents the disruption, by local homophobes, of the Sarajevo Queer Film Festival.

    As Mr. Greyson, Ms. Klein and their mob know perfectly well, Israel is the only country in its region where a film like his could be made and shown without government interference, and where no one is persecuted or discriminated against because of his or her sexual persuasion. The protesters obediently kowtow to the party line of autocratic regimes and terrorist organizations who would not hesitate, given the opportunity, to dispatch Mr. Greyson and his film to a painful fate, which regardless of our differences, I would not wish on anyone.

    Let us be clear. If Ms. Klein was truly interested in justice, she would be alarmed by the screening of films from countries such as China and Iran, where civil liberties are in short supply. She would be marching in front of the theatre showing the film from Malaysia. But their crusade is against a tried and thoroughly tested target: Jews. Today, it is Jewish filmmakers from Tel Aviv who are in their sights, but their ultimate objective is far more ambitious and devastating.

    So I repeat – enough is enough. Their brand of censorship is at odds with our society's fundamental values: freedom of expression and freedom of individual choice. Incitement like theirs has no place at TIFF.

  26. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/ther

    There's justice, and then there's propaganda.
    by Robert Lantos, an award-winning Canadian film producer.

    I am not a professional agitator and I don't write political missives for a living. I am a filmmaker, however, and I have a very long history with the Toronto International Film Festival, which I have had the honour of opening 10 times. I write this from the set of Mordecai Richler's Barney's Version, whose hero, Barney Panofsky, would undoubtedly share my view: Enough is enough!

    There is a difference between most people and professional propagandists. The latter serve their cause by repeating a false statement of “fact” so often and with such emphasis that decent people think there must at least be a modicum of truth to it.

    This age-old but effective propaganda technique has, as of late, given rise to such blatant falsehoods as “Israeli apartheid,” or, to quote Naomi Klein's open letter to TIFF last week, “The city of Jaffa [was] Palestine's main cultural hub until 1948.” This seemingly factual statement fails to mention the detail that there was no such thing as Palestine prior to 1948. The city of Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 in what was then a Turkish colony, later a British colony and once upon a time a Roman colony, consisting of lands from which the indigenous Jewish population had been forcefully – though never fully – evicted.

    The headline of last week's open letter, protesting the focus on films by Tel Aviv filmmakers, was “No celebration of occupation,” which incorrectly implies that Tel Aviv is occupied territory. We are not talking about the West Bank or the Golan Heights here, but the biggest population centre in the heart of Israel, where the first neighbourhood was built in 1887. If that is disputed territory, then Ms. Klein and her armchair storm troopers are clamouring for nothing short of the annihilation of the Jewish state. They are effectively Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's local fifth column.

    The Toronto festival is showcasing movies made by filmmakers from Tel Aviv. This foul and coercive attempt to disrupt the display of their talent simply because they are citizens of the Jewish state is not just an Israeli issue. It is a Canadian issue. It is an assault on our most cherished values, on the very reason why my family chose to immigrate to this country. In Canada, we hold our freedom of expression sacred. Filmmaking is free of political censorship and festivals are free to program whatever they wish.

    TIFF's independence was hard won. In 1978, when my first movie, In Praise of Older Women, was shown at the opening-night gala, the Ontario Censor Board attempted to prevent it from being shown, demanding cuts. The fundamental logic of censorship is premised on the principle of in loco parentis: that the censor knows better what's good for people than they know themselves. We defied the censors and my film was shown uncut. In the 30 years since, the festival has operated without interference or sanctions. Until now.

    I don't hold with the lashing of women for the “crime” of wearing trousers, but I don't believe the festival should boycott films from Malaysia. I'm not a fan of Iran's dictatorship, but that doesn't give me the right to demand the festival cancel Iranian film screenings.

    Ironically, the boycott Tel Aviv affair began over filmmaker John Greyson's decision to withdraw his short documentary Covered to protest the presence of Israeli films. His film documents the disruption, by local homophobes, of the Sarajevo Queer Film Festival.

    As Mr. Greyson, Ms. Klein and their mob know perfectly well, Israel is the only country in its region where a film like his could be made and shown without government interference, and where no one is persecuted or discriminated against because of his or her sexual persuasion. The protesters obediently kowtow to the party line of autocratic regimes and terrorist organizations who would not hesitate, given the opportunity, to dispatch Mr. Greyson and his film to a painful fate, which regardless of our differences, I would not wish on anyone.

    Let us be clear. If Ms. Klein was truly interested in justice, she would be alarmed by the screening of films from countries such as China and Iran, where civil liberties are in short supply. She would be marching in front of the theatre showing the film from Malaysia. But their crusade is against a tried and thoroughly tested target: Jews. Today, it is Jewish filmmakers from Tel Aviv who are in their sights, but their ultimate objective is far more ambitious and devastating.

    So I repeat – enough is enough. Their brand of censorship is at odds with our society's fundamental values: freedom of expression and freedom of individual choice. Incitement like theirs has no place at TIFF.

  27. The Toronto Star Editorial http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/692083

    Tel Aviv tiff at TIFF
    September 08, 2009

    Here's something you may not have heard for a while: "Tel Aviv is built on destroyed Palestinian villages."

    Credit for this historical observation goes to an ad hoc committee of artists and filmmakers heaping scorn on the Toronto International Film Festival for daring to program a Tel Aviv segment, as Israel's biggest city marks its 100th anniversary.

    In an open letter – "The Toronto Declaration: No Celebration of Occupation" – the signatories condemn TIFF for showcasing Tel Aviv, comparing it to the way a propagandist would sanitize "white-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during apartheid."

    Thankfully, the protesters are not objecting to the new TIFF Bell Lightbox, the festival's future home, being built on destroyed First Nations villages. To be sure, that would be ancient history; but why is this anti-Israel petition fixated on Partition – the 1947 United Nations plan that awarded Tel Aviv to Israel more than six decades ago? The subtext is that Tel Aviv is akin to an illegal Jewish settlement.

    It is tempting to ignore this latest, tedious tiff over TIFF, spawned by a few dozen protesters who signed the petition – Jane Fonda and Naomi Klein among them. The anti-Israel diatribes are becoming a bore: Complaints against the Royal Ontario Museum for showing Israel's biblical Dead Sea Scrolls; "Israel Apartheid Week" for high-minded student activists; CUPE locals calling for a boycott of Israeli academics; and the latest Pride parade featuring a float that attacked gay-friendly Israel for apartheid policies (ignoring other Middle Eastern regimes that persecute gays).

    Now TIFF is the target for those who would treat Israel as a pariah, demonize every aspect of its existence, and smear its supporters in Canada. TIFF, they imply, is in the pocket of the Jews – from both Canada and Israel. Their open letter conspicuously highlights the names of "Sidney Greenberg of Astral Media, David Asper of Canwest Global Communications and Joel Reitman of MIJO Corporation," noting ominously that TIFF is now "complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine." Cue dark clouds of conspiracy.

    Replying to his accusers, TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey says he chose Tel Aviv to inaugurate an annual "City to City focus on films" that will showcase cities through a cinematic lens. TIFF took no Israeli money. The festival will also be showing films by Palestinian, Egyptian and Lebanese filmmakers when it opens this Thursday.

    What a strange plot twist: Canadian filmmakers who pay lip service to free expression trying to bring the curtains down on Israeli filmmakers whose art is tainted by their Tel Aviv origins. But if the protesters are applying a litmus test to all world cities, why not castigate city hall for twinning Toronto with Chongqing, given China's human rights abuses? Or demand that Toronto sever its "friendship" links with Volgograd because of Russia's political sins?

    Tel Aviv, it seems, makes for a more tempting target.

  28. Judo Nimb, I respect your views and an individual's right of freedom of expression. Once again, as is made clear, according to Mr Greyson:

    “We’re not protesting the Israeli films or the filmmakers our target is TIFF’s Spotlight on Tel Aviv itself, and specifically its connections to the ‘Brand Israel’ campaign and the Israeli Consulate, which make the spotlight look and feel like a propaganda exercise.

    This boycott is targeting Israeli state propaganda. Your statement about those supporting the boycott are targeting Jews is baseless. The State of Israel has been persecuting the Palestinian people for decades and this is why people are protesting its actions. The massacre in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009 is clear evidence of this. I have lived in Israel and have relatives there; furthermore my family has a plaque in the Garden of the Righteous Among Nations, but I am fervently opposed to state sponsored persecution of the Palestinian people which is why I believe this boycott is needed and is a good sign of increased awareness of the gross injustice taking place in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

  29. We have heard these arguments before. The Israeli people have offered peace, fought for peace, and it is the palestinian people who have rejected land for peace. To say that Israel is “occupied land” is to sat that Manhattan is occupied land. Rockets landing on Israel, killing Israelis without provocation is not the actions of those who support peace. The only “propaganda” is that sold by my fellow liberals Danny Glover, Howard Zinn and David Byrne whom I love and respect in so many ways but are just dead wrong on this issue of who the good guys and bad guys are in the Middle East.

  30. The Toronto Star Editorial http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/692083

    Tel Aviv tiff at TIFF
    September 08, 2009

    Here's something you may not have heard for a while: "Tel Aviv is built on destroyed Palestinian villages."

    Credit for this historical observation goes to an ad hoc committee of artists and filmmakers heaping scorn on the Toronto International Film Festival for daring to program a Tel Aviv segment, as Israel's biggest city marks its 100th anniversary.

    In an open letter – "The Toronto Declaration: No Celebration of Occupation" – the signatories condemn TIFF for showcasing Tel Aviv, comparing it to the way a propagandist would sanitize "white-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during apartheid."

    Thankfully, the protesters are not objecting to the new TIFF Bell Lightbox, the festival's future home, being built on destroyed First Nations villages. To be sure, that would be ancient history; but why is this anti-Israel petition fixated on Partition – the 1947 United Nations plan that awarded Tel Aviv to Israel more than six decades ago? The subtext is that Tel Aviv is akin to an illegal Jewish settlement.

    It is tempting to ignore this latest, tedious tiff over TIFF, spawned by a few dozen protesters who signed the petition – Jane Fonda and Naomi Klein among them. The anti-Israel diatribes are becoming a bore: Complaints against the Royal Ontario Museum for showing Israel's biblical Dead Sea Scrolls; "Israel Apartheid Week" for high-minded student activists; CUPE locals calling for a boycott of Israeli academics; and the latest Pride parade featuring a float that attacked gay-friendly Israel for apartheid policies (ignoring other Middle Eastern regimes that persecute gays).

    Now TIFF is the target for those who would treat Israel as a pariah, demonize every aspect of its existence, and smear its supporters in Canada. TIFF, they imply, is in the pocket of the Jews – from both Canada and Israel. Their open letter conspicuously highlights the names of "Sidney Greenberg of Astral Media, David Asper of Canwest Global Communications and Joel Reitman of MIJO Corporation," noting ominously that TIFF is now "complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine." Cue dark clouds of conspiracy.

    Replying to his accusers, TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey says he chose Tel Aviv to inaugurate an annual "City to City focus on films" that will showcase cities through a cinematic lens. TIFF took no Israeli money. The festival will also be showing films by Palestinian, Egyptian and Lebanese filmmakers when it opens this Thursday.

    What a strange plot twist: Canadian filmmakers who pay lip service to free expression trying to bring the curtains down on Israeli filmmakers whose art is tainted by their Tel Aviv origins. But if the protesters are applying a litmus test to all world cities, why not castigate city hall for twinning Toronto with Chongqing, given China's human rights abuses? Or demand that Toronto sever its "friendship" links with Volgograd because of Russia's political sins?

    Tel Aviv, it seems, makes for a more tempting target.

  31. The Toronto Star Editorial http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/692083

    Tel Aviv tiff at TIFF
    September 08, 2009

    Here's something you may not have heard for a while: "Tel Aviv is built on destroyed Palestinian villages."

    Credit for this historical observation goes to an ad hoc committee of artists and filmmakers heaping scorn on the Toronto International Film Festival for daring to program a Tel Aviv segment, as Israel's biggest city marks its 100th anniversary.

    In an open letter – "The Toronto Declaration: No Celebration of Occupation" – the signatories condemn TIFF for showcasing Tel Aviv, comparing it to the way a propagandist would sanitize "white-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during apartheid."

    Thankfully, the protesters are not objecting to the new TIFF Bell Lightbox, the festival's future home, being built on destroyed First Nations villages. To be sure, that would be ancient history; but why is this anti-Israel petition fixated on Partition – the 1947 United Nations plan that awarded Tel Aviv to Israel more than six decades ago? The subtext is that Tel Aviv is akin to an illegal Jewish settlement.

    It is tempting to ignore this latest, tedious tiff over TIFF, spawned by a few dozen protesters who signed the petition – Jane Fonda and Naomi Klein among them. The anti-Israel diatribes are becoming a bore: Complaints against the Royal Ontario Museum for showing Israel's biblical Dead Sea Scrolls; "Israel Apartheid Week" for high-minded student activists; CUPE locals calling for a boycott of Israeli academics; and the latest Pride parade featuring a float that attacked gay-friendly Israel for apartheid policies (ignoring other Middle Eastern regimes that persecute gays).

    Now TIFF is the target for those who would treat Israel as a pariah, demonize every aspect of its existence, and smear its supporters in Canada. TIFF, they imply, is in the pocket of the Jews – from both Canada and Israel. Their open letter conspicuously highlights the names of "Sidney Greenberg of Astral Media, David Asper of Canwest Global Communications and Joel Reitman of MIJO Corporation," noting ominously that TIFF is now "complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine." Cue dark clouds of conspiracy.

    Replying to his accusers, TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey says he chose Tel Aviv to inaugurate an annual "City to City focus on films" that will showcase cities through a cinematic lens. TIFF took no Israeli money. The festival will also be showing films by Palestinian, Egyptian and Lebanese filmmakers when it opens this Thursday.

    What a strange plot twist: Canadian filmmakers who pay lip service to free expression trying to bring the curtains down on Israeli filmmakers whose art is tainted by their Tel Aviv origins. But if the protesters are applying a litmus test to all world cities, why not castigate city hall for twinning Toronto with Chongqing, given China's human rights abuses? Or demand that Toronto sever its "friendship" links with Volgograd because of Russia's political sins?

    Tel Aviv, it seems, makes for a more tempting target.

  32. "I am against censorship in all its forms. The attempts to stop TIFF's City to City spotlight on Tel Aviv amount to political censorship. I am against it."
    David Cronenberg, Filmmaker.

    "The recent attack on Israeli films at TIFF is an attempt to politicize art. It has been demonstrated that in Israel, artists are free to create work, which often is critical of their own society. "Waltz with Bashir" was nominated for an Academy Award last year, despite its criticism of Israeli government policy. This recent attempt at political censorship smacks of anti-Semitic bigotry. Let's keep political hatred out of the artistic community. Artists should treat each other with respect and support regardless of religion, colour, or nationality. You can have a great career and become a Hollywood legend – but there's a spirit of humanity and caring for others – that we are honouring tonight and we thank you for coming to Toronto."

    Norman Jewison, Filmaker.

    "Israel is the only country in the Middle East where films are made without censorship of any sort. Films that are critical of the country, or some aspect of Israeli society, even the Israel Defense Forces, are made freely, without interference and with the State's financial support. Witness last year's Academy Award nominated Waltz With Bashir, which, despite its ferocious criticism of Israel, was largely funded by the Israel Film fund, a government agency.

    The attack on TIFF is a vile attempt by a gang of fashionable bigots to use coercive tactics to stifle voices they don't like. These are not crusaders for justice. If they were, they would be alarmed by films from countries like Malaysia (where a woman gets lashes for wearing trousers), China and Iran where civil liberties are in short supply. But these vigilantes have no stomach for standing up to ruthless totalitarian regimes. They prefer to wage their crusade against a tried and tested target: Jews. Today, Jewish filmmakers from Tel Aviv get their turn.

    Their brand of political censorship is at odds with the most cherished values of Canadian society: Freedom of expression and freedom of choice. Bigotry like theirs has no place at the Toronto International Film Festival."
    Robert Lantos, Filmmaker.

  33. Stephen, I concur. It is a popular misconception that Israel stole the Palestinians’ homeland. Palestine included all of what is now Jordan and Israel. Palestine was partitioned into Jordan and Israel. Those who did not wish to stay in Israel were free to migrate to Jordan. Jordan is the Palestinian homeland. Those who stayed in Israel were granted Israeli citizenship. Most of them refused to assimilate into society, instead vowing to destroy the state.

    Israel has been militarily attacked without provocation from without and within time after time after time, and when they respond in their own defense, somehow it is politically vogue to characterize them as criminals. This simply does not compute.

  34. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/theres-justice-and-then-theres-propaganda/article1281264/

    There’s justice, and then there’s propaganda.
    by Robert Lantos, an award-winning Canadian film producer.

    I am not a professional agitator and I don’t write political missives for a living. I am a filmmaker, however, and I have a very long history with the Toronto International Film Festival, which I have had the honour of opening 10 times. I write this from the set of Mordecai Richler’s Barney’s Version, whose hero, Barney Panofsky, would undoubtedly share my view: Enough is enough!

    There is a difference between most people and professional propagandists. The latter serve their cause by repeating a false statement of “fact” so often and with such emphasis that decent people think there must at least be a modicum of truth to it.

    This age-old but effective propaganda technique has, as of late, given rise to such blatant falsehoods as “Israeli apartheid,” or, to quote Naomi Klein’s open letter to TIFF last week, “The city of Jaffa [was] Palestine’s main cultural hub until 1948.” This seemingly factual statement fails to mention the detail that there was no such thing as Palestine prior to 1948. The city of Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 in what was then a Turkish colony, later a British colony and once upon a time a Roman colony, consisting of lands from which the indigenous Jewish population had been forcefully – though never fully – evicted.

    The headline of last week’s open letter, protesting the focus on films by Tel Aviv filmmakers, was “No celebration of occupation,” which incorrectly implies that Tel Aviv is occupied territory. We are not talking about the West Bank or the Golan Heights here, but the biggest population centre in the heart of Israel, where the first neighbourhood was built in 1887. If that is disputed territory, then Ms. Klein and her armchair storm troopers are clamouring for nothing short of the annihilation of the Jewish state. They are effectively Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s local fifth column.

    The Toronto festival is showcasing movies made by filmmakers from Tel Aviv. This foul and coercive attempt to disrupt the display of their talent simply because they are citizens of the Jewish state is not just an Israeli issue. It is a Canadian issue. It is an assault on our most cherished values, on the very reason why my family chose to immigrate to this country. In Canada, we hold our freedom of expression sacred. Filmmaking is free of political censorship and festivals are free to program whatever they wish.

    TIFF’s independence was hard won. In 1978, when my first movie, In Praise of Older Women, was shown at the opening-night gala, the Ontario Censor Board attempted to prevent it from being shown, demanding cuts. The fundamental logic of censorship is premised on the principle of in loco parentis: that the censor knows better what’s good for people than they know themselves. We defied the censors and my film was shown uncut. In the 30 years since, the festival has operated without interference or sanctions. Until now.

    I don’t hold with the lashing of women for the “crime” of wearing trousers, but I don’t believe the festival should boycott films from Malaysia. I’m not a fan of Iran’s dictatorship, but that doesn’t give me the right to demand the festival cancel Iranian film screenings.

    Ironically, the boycott Tel Aviv affair began over filmmaker John Greyson’s decision to withdraw his short documentary Covered to protest the presence of Israeli films. His film documents the disruption, by local homophobes, of the Sarajevo Queer Film Festival.

    As Mr. Greyson, Ms. Klein and their mob know perfectly well, Israel is the only country in its region where a film like his could be made and shown without government interference, and where no one is persecuted or discriminated against because of his or her sexual persuasion. The protesters obediently kowtow to the party line of autocratic regimes and terrorist organizations who would not hesitate, given the opportunity, to dispatch Mr. Greyson and his film to a painful fate, which regardless of our differences, I would not wish on anyone.

    Let us be clear. If Ms. Klein was truly interested in justice, she would be alarmed by the screening of films from countries such as China and Iran, where civil liberties are in short supply. She would be marching in front of the theatre showing the film from Malaysia. But their crusade is against a tried and thoroughly tested target: Jews. Today, it is Jewish filmmakers from Tel Aviv who are in their sights, but their ultimate objective is far more ambitious and devastating.

    So I repeat – enough is enough. Their brand of censorship is at odds with our society’s fundamental values: freedom of expression and freedom of individual choice. Incitement like theirs has no place at TIFF.

  35. Judo Nimb, I respect your views and an individual’s right of freedom of expression. Once again, as is made clear, according to Mr Greyson:

    “We’re not protesting the Israeli films or the filmmakers our target is TIFF’s Spotlight on Tel Aviv itself, and specifically its connections to the ‘Brand Israel’ campaign and the Israeli Consulate, which make the spotlight look and feel like a propaganda exercise.

    This boycott is targeting Israeli state propaganda. Your statement about those supporting the boycott are targeting Jews is baseless. The State of Israel has been persecuting the Palestinian people for decades and this is why people are protesting its actions. The massacre in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009 is clear evidence of this. I have lived in Israel and have relatives there; furthermore my family has a plaque in the Garden of the Righteous Among Nations, but I am fervently opposed to state sponsored persecution of the Palestinian people which is why I believe this boycott is needed and is a good sign of increased awareness of the gross injustice taking place in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

  36. The Toronto Star Editorial
    http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/692083

    Tel Aviv tiff at TIFF
    September 08, 2009

    Here’s something you may not have heard for a while: “Tel Aviv is built on destroyed Palestinian villages.”

    Credit for this historical observation goes to an ad hoc committee of artists and filmmakers heaping scorn on the Toronto International Film Festival for daring to program a Tel Aviv segment, as Israel’s biggest city marks its 100th anniversary.

    In an open letter – “The Toronto Declaration: No Celebration of Occupation” – the signatories condemn TIFF for showcasing Tel Aviv, comparing it to the way a propagandist would sanitize “white-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during apartheid.”

    Thankfully, the protesters are not objecting to the new TIFF Bell Lightbox, the festival’s future home, being built on destroyed First Nations villages. To be sure, that would be ancient history; but why is this anti-Israel petition fixated on Partition – the 1947 United Nations plan that awarded Tel Aviv to Israel more than six decades ago? The subtext is that Tel Aviv is akin to an illegal Jewish settlement.

    It is tempting to ignore this latest, tedious tiff over TIFF, spawned by a few dozen protesters who signed the petition – Jane Fonda and Naomi Klein among them. The anti-Israel diatribes are becoming a bore: Complaints against the Royal Ontario Museum for showing Israel’s biblical Dead Sea Scrolls; “Israel Apartheid Week” for high-minded student activists; CUPE locals calling for a boycott of Israeli academics; and the latest Pride parade featuring a float that attacked gay-friendly Israel for apartheid policies (ignoring other Middle Eastern regimes that persecute gays).

    Now TIFF is the target for those who would treat Israel as a pariah, demonize every aspect of its existence, and smear its supporters in Canada. TIFF, they imply, is in the pocket of the Jews – from both Canada and Israel. Their open letter conspicuously highlights the names of “Sidney Greenberg of Astral Media, David Asper of Canwest Global Communications and Joel Reitman of MIJO Corporation,” noting ominously that TIFF is now “complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine.” Cue dark clouds of conspiracy.

    Replying to his accusers, TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey says he chose Tel Aviv to inaugurate an annual “City to City focus on films” that will showcase cities through a cinematic lens. TIFF took no Israeli money. The festival will also be showing films by Palestinian, Egyptian and Lebanese filmmakers when it opens this Thursday.

    What a strange plot twist: Canadian filmmakers who pay lip service to free expression trying to bring the curtains down on Israeli filmmakers whose art is tainted by their Tel Aviv origins. But if the protesters are applying a litmus test to all world cities, why not castigate city hall for twinning Toronto with Chongqing, given China’s human rights abuses? Or demand that Toronto sever its “friendship” links with Volgograd because of Russia’s political sins?

    Tel Aviv, it seems, makes for a more tempting target.

  37. “I am against censorship in all its forms. The attempts to stop TIFF’s City to City spotlight on Tel Aviv amount to political censorship. I am against it.”
    David Cronenberg, Filmmaker.

    “The recent attack on Israeli films at TIFF is an attempt to politicize art. It has been demonstrated that in Israel, artists are free to create work, which often is critical of their own society. “Waltz with Bashir” was nominated for an Academy Award last year, despite its criticism of Israeli government policy. This recent attempt at political censorship smacks of anti-Semitic bigotry. Let’s keep political hatred out of the artistic community. Artists should treat each other with respect and support regardless of religion, colour, or nationality. You can have a great career and become a Hollywood legend – but there’s a spirit of humanity and caring for others – that we are honouring tonight and we thank you for coming to Toronto.”

    Norman Jewison, Filmaker.

    “Israel is the only country in the Middle East where films are made without censorship of any sort. Films that are critical of the country, or some aspect of Israeli society, even the Israel Defense Forces, are made freely, without interference and with the State’s financial support. Witness last year’s Academy Award nominated Waltz With Bashir, which, despite its ferocious criticism of Israel, was largely funded by the Israel Film fund, a government agency.

    The attack on TIFF is a vile attempt by a gang of fashionable bigots to use coercive tactics to stifle voices they don’t like. These are not crusaders for justice. If they were, they would be alarmed by films from countries like Malaysia (where a woman gets lashes for wearing trousers), China and Iran where civil liberties are in short supply. But these vigilantes have no stomach for standing up to ruthless totalitarian regimes. They prefer to wage their crusade against a tried and tested target: Jews. Today, Jewish filmmakers from Tel Aviv get their turn.

    Their brand of political censorship is at odds with the most cherished values of Canadian society: Freedom of expression and freedom of choice. Bigotry like theirs has no place at the Toronto International Film Festival.”
    Robert Lantos, Filmmaker.

  38. Michael, isn't it a gross injustice for innocent Israelis to have rockets fired at their homes, businesses and persons randomly and continually for month after month? The so-called "massacre in Gaza" could have been averted in an extremely simple way. The could have simply ceased committing random destruction and murder. They were peacefully requested to do so countless times. They did not stop. They were requested to do so with the clear warning that if they did not cease continual acts of terrorism that they would be stopped–countless times. They did not stop. They were requested to cease their acts of terrorism with a final ultimatum that they were about to be forcibly stopped if they did not stop immediately. They did not stop.

    Michael, I don't know your nationality, but do you suppose your country, or any other country, would show such restraint if they were being attacked with aerial explosives over and over and knew exactly where the source of these attacks was?

  39. The Palestinian Authority no longer fights Israel in the West Bank, and as a result in the West Bank this year is almost completely peaceful, virtually no death or injury, the population is secure and safe, and an annual economic growth rate of 7 percent, declining unemployment, a thriving tourism industry and a 24 percent hike in the average daily wage, this in a year of world wide economic depression elsewhere in the world.

    The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics says the unemployment rate for the West Bank dropped from 19.5 percent in Q1 2009 to 15.9 percent in Q2. The radical improvement in law and order in the West Bank through the establishment of a U.S.-trained Palestinian security force has laid the foundation for these changes.

    Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israel's Netanyahu are stressing the power of prosperity to brighten hopes of peaceful coexistence. Netanyahu, in power since March, says 15 major 24-hour manned checkpoints have been removed and more will go. Fayyad, whom many credit for overhauling finances and trying to curb corruption, says Palestinians could have a state ready to move into in two years, if they starting building it now instead of waiting for a final agreement with Israel. Presenting guidelines this week, Fayyad said that in addition to "challenging the occupation and confronting its measures," Palestinians can build infrastructure, secure energy sources and water, and improve housing, education and agriculture to "get our economy out of the cycle of dependency."

    Objectives set by the Western-backed Palestinian premier include an international airport near the Dead Sea, rail links to neighbouring countries and tax cuts for local and foreign investors.

    But Hamas in Gaza insists on continuing to fight forever until the end of time against Israel and will never accept any compromise except the total destruction of Israel, and the ethnic cleansing or the murder of all 5 million Jews in Israel.

    Why ?

    The answer as to why Hamas refuses to make peace are explained is in the words of Nizzar Rayyan, the senior Hamas leader, and the chief liaison between the Hamas Spiritual leadership and the Hamas military wing. Rayyan was killed during the Gaza War last year.

    Nizzar Rayyan was fundamentally opposed to the state of Israel.
    "We will never recognize Israel," he told Reuters news agency in early 2007. "There is nothing called Israel, neither in reality nor in the imagination."

    When Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007, he said there would be no dialogue with Fatah, the secular Palestinian movement it ousted, "only the sword and the rifle".

    http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2

    Rayyan was an expert on the hadith, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, with a special interest in hadith that painted Jews in a negative light.

    Asked him if he believed, as some Hamas theologians do (and certainly as many Hezbollah leaders do) that Jews are the "sons of pigs and apes." He gave an interesting answer that reflects a myopic reading of the Koran. "Allah changed disobedient Jews into apes and pigs, it is true, but he specifically said these apes and pigs did not have the ability to reproduce. So it is not literally true that Jews today are descended from pigs and apes, but it is true that some of the ancestors of Jews were transformed into pigs and apes, and it is true that Allah continually makes the Jews pay for their crimes in many different ways. They are a cursed people."

    What are the Jews crimes? Rayyan was asked. "You are murderers of the prophets and you have closed your ears to the Messenger of Allah," he said. "Jews tried to kill the Prophet, peace be unto him. All throughout history, you have stood in opposition to the word of God."
     

  40. The Palestinian Authority no longer fights Israel in the West Bank, and as a result in the West Bank this year is almost completely peaceful, virtually no death or injury, the population is secure and safe, and an annual economic growth rate of 7 percent, declining unemployment, a thriving tourism industry and a 24 percent hike in the average daily wage, this in a year of world wide economic depression elsewhere in the world.

    The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics says the unemployment rate for the West Bank dropped from 19.5 percent in Q1 2009 to 15.9 percent in Q2. The radical improvement in law and order in the West Bank through the establishment of a U.S.-trained Palestinian security force has laid the foundation for these changes.

    Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israel's Netanyahu are stressing the power of prosperity to brighten hopes of peaceful coexistence. Netanyahu, in power since March, says 15 major 24-hour manned checkpoints have been removed and more will go. Fayyad, whom many credit for overhauling finances and trying to curb corruption, says Palestinians could have a state ready to move into in two years, if they starting building it now instead of waiting for a final agreement with Israel. Presenting guidelines this week, Fayyad said that in addition to "challenging the occupation and confronting its measures," Palestinians can build infrastructure, secure energy sources and water, and improve housing, education and agriculture to "get our economy out of the cycle of dependency."

    Objectives set by the Western-backed Palestinian premier include an international airport near the Dead Sea, rail links to neighbouring countries and tax cuts for local and foreign investors.

    But Hamas in Gaza insists on continuing to fight forever until the end of time against Israel and will never accept any compromise except the total destruction of Israel, and the ethnic cleansing or the murder of all 5 million Jews in Israel.

    Why ?

    The answer as to why Hamas refuses to make peace are explained is in the words of Nizzar Rayyan, the senior Hamas leader, and the chief liaison between the Hamas Spiritual leadership and the Hamas military wing. Rayyan was killed during the Gaza War last year.

    Nizzar Rayyan was fundamentally opposed to the state of Israel.
    "We will never recognize Israel," he told Reuters news agency in early 2007. "There is nothing called Israel, neither in reality nor in the imagination."

    When Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007, he said there would be no dialogue with Fatah, the secular Palestinian movement it ousted, "only the sword and the rifle".

    http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2

    Rayyan was an expert on the hadith, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, with a special interest in hadith that painted Jews in a negative light.

    Asked him if he believed, as some Hamas theologians do (and certainly as many Hezbollah leaders do) that Jews are the "sons of pigs and apes." He gave an interesting answer that reflects a myopic reading of the Koran. "Allah changed disobedient Jews into apes and pigs, it is true, but he specifically said these apes and pigs did not have the ability to reproduce. So it is not literally true that Jews today are descended from pigs and apes, but it is true that some of the ancestors of Jews were transformed into pigs and apes, and it is true that Allah continually makes the Jews pay for their crimes in many different ways. They are a cursed people."

    What are the Jews crimes? Rayyan was asked. "You are murderers of the prophets and you have closed your ears to the Messenger of Allah," he said. "Jews tried to kill the Prophet, peace be unto him. All throughout history, you have stood in opposition to the word of God."
     

  41. The Palestinian Authority no longer fights Israel in the West Bank, and as a result in the West Bank this year is almost completely peaceful, virtually no death or injury, the population is secure and safe, and an annual economic growth rate of 7 percent, declining unemployment, a thriving tourism industry and a 24 percent hike in the average daily wage, this in a year of world wide economic depression elsewhere in the world.

    The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics says the unemployment rate for the West Bank dropped from 19.5 percent in Q1 2009 to 15.9 percent in Q2. The radical improvement in law and order in the West Bank through the establishment of a U.S.-trained Palestinian security force has laid the foundation for these changes.

    Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israel's Netanyahu are stressing the power of prosperity to brighten hopes of peaceful coexistence. Netanyahu, in power since March, says 15 major 24-hour manned checkpoints have been removed and more will go. Fayyad, whom many credit for overhauling finances and trying to curb corruption, says Palestinians could have a state ready to move into in two years, if they starting building it now instead of waiting for a final agreement with Israel. Presenting guidelines this week, Fayyad said that in addition to "challenging the occupation and confronting its measures," Palestinians can build infrastructure, secure energy sources and water, and improve housing, education and agriculture to "get our economy out of the cycle of dependency."

    Objectives set by the Western-backed Palestinian premier include an international airport near the Dead Sea, rail links to neighbouring countries and tax cuts for local and foreign investors.

    But Hamas in Gaza insists on continuing to fight forever until the end of time against Israel and will never accept any compromise except the total destruction of Israel, and the ethnic cleansing or the murder of all 5 million Jews in Israel.

    Why ?

    The answer as to why Hamas refuses to make peace are explained is in the words of Nizzar Rayyan, the senior Hamas leader, and the chief liaison between the Hamas Spiritual leadership and the Hamas military wing. Rayyan was killed during the Gaza War last year.

    Nizzar Rayyan was fundamentally opposed to the state of Israel.
    "We will never recognize Israel," he told Reuters news agency in early 2007. "There is nothing called Israel, neither in reality nor in the imagination."

    When Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007, he said there would be no dialogue with Fatah, the secular Palestinian movement it ousted, "only the sword and the rifle".

    http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2

    Rayyan was an expert on the hadith, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, with a special interest in hadith that painted Jews in a negative light.

    Asked him if he believed, as some Hamas theologians do (and certainly as many Hezbollah leaders do) that Jews are the "sons of pigs and apes." He gave an interesting answer that reflects a myopic reading of the Koran. "Allah changed disobedient Jews into apes and pigs, it is true, but he specifically said these apes and pigs did not have the ability to reproduce. So it is not literally true that Jews today are descended from pigs and apes, but it is true that some of the ancestors of Jews were transformed into pigs and apes, and it is true that Allah continually makes the Jews pay for their crimes in many different ways. They are a cursed people."

    What are the Jews crimes? Rayyan was asked. "You are murderers of the prophets and you have closed your ears to the Messenger of Allah," he said. "Jews tried to kill the Prophet, peace be unto him. All throughout history, you have stood in opposition to the word of God."
     

  42. I think arguments over the legitimacy of Israel completely miss the point here. Why on earth would artists shun other artists. The argument that this is not about Israeli filmmakers but about Israeli government PR is completely devoid of merit. Cameron Bailey, the co-director of the Toronto Film Festival and the creator & programmer of City-to-City responded to Greyson in an open letter posted here:
    http://www.tiff.net/livefromthefestival/openlette

    He clearly states that this decision was made without any involvement of the Israeli government. Now this means that the signatories to that letter are either claiming Mr. Bailey is lying or are ignoring his statement entirely. If they are claiming he's lying then they are condemning the whole festival, Israeli filmmakers included. Either way, they are being dishonest.

    There is nothing less productive than a cultural boycott. These filmmakers are not missionaries of the Israeli government but rather artists expressing a range of views, many critical, of the status and culture of Tel Aviv. Why should we not hear what they have to say and engage in discourse? Further, the vast preponderance of the signatories have not seen the films in question and yet are ready to condemn them as being non-critical of Israel.

    They should be ashamed of themselves. If you want to pressure the Israeli government then feel free to participate in Israeli economic boycotts but to discourage liberal artists is shameful.

    What would these artists think had the situation been reversed? What if film festivals around the world were pressured to refuse to feature works of filmmakers from Los Angeles or New York or Miami because of the US involvement in Iraq? It would be absurd. The only reason this is not seen that way is because of hatred and simple-mindedness.

  43. I think arguments over the legitimacy of Israel completely miss the point here. Why on earth would artists shun other artists. The argument that this is not about Israeli filmmakers but about Israeli government PR is completely devoid of merit. Cameron Bailey, the co-director of the Toronto Film Festival and the creator & programmer of City-to-City responded to Greyson in an open letter posted here:
    http://www.tiff.net/livefromthefestival/openlette

    He clearly states that this decision was made without any involvement of the Israeli government. Now this means that the signatories to that letter are either claiming Mr. Bailey is lying or are ignoring his statement entirely. If they are claiming he's lying then they are condemning the whole festival, Israeli filmmakers included. Either way, they are being dishonest.

    There is nothing less productive than a cultural boycott. These filmmakers are not missionaries of the Israeli government but rather artists expressing a range of views, many critical, of the status and culture of Tel Aviv. Why should we not hear what they have to say and engage in discourse? Further, the vast preponderance of the signatories have not seen the films in question and yet are ready to condemn them as being non-critical of Israel.

    They should be ashamed of themselves. If you want to pressure the Israeli government then feel free to participate in Israeli economic boycotts but to discourage liberal artists is shameful.

    What would these artists think had the situation been reversed? What if film festivals around the world were pressured to refuse to feature works of filmmakers from Los Angeles or New York or Miami because of the US involvement in Iraq? It would be absurd. The only reason this is not seen that way is because of hatred and simple-mindedness.

  44. I think arguments over the legitimacy of Israel completely miss the point here. Why on earth would artists shun other artists. The argument that this is not about Israeli filmmakers but about Israeli government PR is completely devoid of merit. Cameron Bailey, the co-director of the Toronto Film Festival and the creator & programmer of City-to-City responded to Greyson in an open letter posted here:
    http://www.tiff.net/livefromthefestival/openlette

    He clearly states that this decision was made without any involvement of the Israeli government. Now this means that the signatories to that letter are either claiming Mr. Bailey is lying or are ignoring his statement entirely. If they are claiming he's lying then they are condemning the whole festival, Israeli filmmakers included. Either way, they are being dishonest.

    There is nothing less productive than a cultural boycott. These filmmakers are not missionaries of the Israeli government but rather artists expressing a range of views, many critical, of the status and culture of Tel Aviv. Why should we not hear what they have to say and engage in discourse? Further, the vast preponderance of the signatories have not seen the films in question and yet are ready to condemn them as being non-critical of Israel.

    They should be ashamed of themselves. If you want to pressure the Israeli government then feel free to participate in Israeli economic boycotts but to discourage liberal artists is shameful.

    What would these artists think had the situation been reversed? What if film festivals around the world were pressured to refuse to feature works of filmmakers from Los Angeles or New York or Miami because of the US involvement in Iraq? It would be absurd. The only reason this is not seen that way is because of hatred and simple-mindedness.

  45. Michael, isn’t it a gross injustice for innocent Israelis to have rockets fired at their homes, businesses and persons randomly and continually for month after month? The so-called “massacre in Gaza” could have been averted in an extremely simple way. The could have simply ceased committing random destruction and murder. They were peacefully requested to do so countless times. They did not stop. They were requested to do so with the clear warning that if they did not cease continual acts of terrorism that they would be stopped–countless times. They did not stop. They were requested to cease their acts of terrorism with a final ultimatum that they were about to be forcibly stopped if they did not stop immediately. They did not stop.

    Michael, I don’t know your nationality, but do you suppose your country, or any other country, would show such restraint if they were being attacked with aerial explosives over and over and knew exactly where the source of these attacks was?

  46. Herbert, thank you for responding to my post and engaging in this discussion. It is an injustice indeed and I condemn any attacks on civilians. I would very interested in your opinions about a few issues. Firstly, why do you think Hamas and any other political parties or groups are fighting against Israel?
    Secondly, what about the innocent Palestinians who are subject to Israeli acts of ‘destruction and murder’? To clarify, Hamas agreed to a truce last June, which Israel broke on November 4 after a raid into Gaza and the killing of six people there. I’ve posted a link and I would greatly appreciate it if you take the time to read it. http://www.medialens.org/alerts/09/090112_an_eye_for.php. I think it is important to be prepared to discuss this with mutual respect even if we do disagree. Best regards

  47. I recently heard about boycott of Israeli movies. i recently seen many Israeli movies like The Bubble, Syrian Bride, The Band visit and the Lemon Tree are wonderful movies. I spicily appreciate the directors work in these movies. I am Pakistani and Muslim. i have seen many conflict of between Israeli and Muslims. Israeli troops killed many innocent Philistine. I don’t know Philistine people do not have Tanks, Cobra, and f 16 but why Israel use them to kill them. If one person do a mistake (i will not say its is mistake its a fight for freedom. Tell me one thing if i enter in your home illegally and pushed out you with your family what would you do. I think you have no answer ) why you give the punishment to whole Palestinian people. The massacre in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009 is clear that Israeli killed many innocent people. i am not saying media show everything. your human organisation are sayeing that 80% people were innocent people.if some one protest against your country like business boycott and now TIFF against your Government this act. Is this Moos ah preach your Torah says kill innocent. you stole there land. we Muslim think Israel is build on stolen land. its true it can not be changed. If you kill them they will kill you, because they have no choice. if they have have any choice let me clear my mind. Why you are saying this is injustice. what is the justice about Philistine why you not free them now.

  48. The Palestinian Authority no longer fights Israel in the West Bank, and as a result in the West Bank this year is almost completely peaceful, virtually no death or injury, the population is secure and safe, and an annual economic growth rate of 7 percent, declining unemployment, a thriving tourism industry and a 24 percent hike in the average daily wage, this in a year of world wide economic depression elsewhere in the world.

    The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics says the unemployment rate for the West Bank dropped from 19.5 percent in Q1 2009 to 15.9 percent in Q2. The radical improvement in law and order in the West Bank through the establishment of a U.S.-trained Palestinian security force has laid the foundation for these changes.

    Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israel’s Netanyahu are stressing the power of prosperity to brighten hopes of peaceful coexistence. Netanyahu, in power since March, says 15 major 24-hour manned checkpoints have been removed and more will go. Fayyad, whom many credit for overhauling finances and trying to curb corruption, says Palestinians could have a state ready to move into in two years, if they starting building it now instead of waiting for a final agreement with Israel. Presenting guidelines this week, Fayyad said that in addition to “challenging the occupation and confronting its measures,” Palestinians can build infrastructure, secure energy sources and water, and improve housing, education and agriculture to “get our economy out of the cycle of dependency.”

    Objectives set by the Western-backed Palestinian premier include an international airport near the Dead Sea, rail links to neighbouring countries and tax cuts for local and foreign investors.

    But Hamas in Gaza insists on continuing to fight forever until the end of time against Israel and will never accept any compromise except the total destruction of Israel, and the ethnic cleansing or the murder of all 5 million Jews in Israel.

    Why ?

    The answer as to why Hamas refuses to make peace are explained is in the words of Nizzar Rayyan, the senior Hamas leader, and the chief liaison between the Hamas Spiritual leadership and the Hamas military wing. Rayyan was killed during the Gaza War last year.

    Nizzar Rayyan was fundamentally opposed to the state of Israel.
    “We will never recognize Israel,” he told Reuters news agency in early 2007. “There is nothing called Israel, neither in reality nor in the imagination.”

    When Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007, he said there would be no dialogue with Fatah, the secular Palestinian movement it ousted, “only the sword and the rifle”.

    http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/01/nizar_rayyan_of_hamas_on_gods.php

    Rayyan was an expert on the hadith, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, with a special interest in hadith that painted Jews in a negative light.

    Asked him if he believed, as some Hamas theologians do (and certainly as many Hezbollah leaders do) that Jews are the “sons of pigs and apes.” He gave an interesting answer that reflects a myopic reading of the Koran. “Allah changed disobedient Jews into apes and pigs, it is true, but he specifically said these apes and pigs did not have the ability to reproduce. So it is not literally true that Jews today are descended from pigs and apes, but it is true that some of the ancestors of Jews were transformed into pigs and apes, and it is true that Allah continually makes the Jews pay for their crimes in many different ways. They are a cursed people.”

    What are the Jews crimes? Rayyan was asked. “You are murderers of the prophets and you have closed your ears to the Messenger of Allah,” he said. “Jews tried to kill the Prophet, peace be unto him. All throughout history, you have stood in opposition to the word of God.”
     

  49. I agree with the withdrawal…for the first time…people are getting out of their silence and expressing how they really feel…i hope this shall have some good results

  50. Hey friends- this post is wrong- please change it! They did not call for a boycott. The opposite, they support the idea of Israeli films. They find it inappropriate to put a celebratory spotlight on Tel Aviv that completely ignores Gaza, the territories, the fact that Tel Aviv was built on Palestinian villages etc.. In fact, some of the signers have films in the festival- that's not a boycott.

    Read our fact sheets and please don't repeat the framing of those who want to demonize anyone who criticizes Israeli policy.
    The smears and lies: http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/publish/articl
    The factual history of the region: http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/publish/articl

  51. Cecilie,

    I'm sorry but Mr. Greyson's letter mentions boycotts no less than 10 times.
    http://www.yorku.ca/greyzone/figtrees/docs/open_l

    "To my mind, this isn't the right year to celebrate Brand Israel, or to demonstrate an ostrich-like indifference to the realities (cinematic and otherwise) of the region, or to pointedly ignore the international economic boycott campaign against Israel. Launched by Palestinian NGO's in 2005, and since joined by thousands inside and outside Israel, the campaign is seen as the last hope for forcing Israel to comply with international law. By ignoring this boycott, TIFF has emphatically taken sides — and in the process, forced every filmmaker and audience member who opposes the occupation to cross a type of picket line." – John Greyson

    It is splitting hairs to say he is not calling for a boycott. He is condemning TIFF for not participating in the boycott and that is the same thing.

  52. I think arguments over the legitimacy of Israel completely miss the point here. Why on earth would artists shun other artists. The argument that this is not about Israeli filmmakers but about Israeli government PR is completely devoid of merit. Cameron Bailey, the co-director of the Toronto Film Festival and the creator & programmer of City-to-City responded to Greyson in an open letter posted here:

    http://www.tiff.net/livefromthefestival/openlettercitytocity

    He clearly states that this decision was made without any involvement of the Israeli government. Now this means that the signatories to that letter are either claiming Mr. Bailey is lying or are ignoring his statement entirely. If they are claiming he’s lying then they are condemning the whole festival, Israeli filmmakers included. Either way, they are being dishonest.

    There is nothing less productive than a cultural boycott. These filmmakers are not missionaries of the Israeli government but rather artists expressing a range of views, many critical, of the status and culture of Tel Aviv. Why should we not hear what they have to say and engage in discourse? Further, the vast preponderance of the signatories have not seen the films in question and yet are ready to condemn them as being non-critical of Israel.

    They should be ashamed of themselves. If you want to pressure the Israeli government then feel free to participate in Israeli economic boycotts but to discourage liberal artists is shameful.

    What would these artists think had the situation been reversed? What if film festivals around the world were pressured to refuse to feature works of filmmakers from Los Angeles or New York or Miami because of the US involvement in Iraq? It would be absurd. The only reason this is not seen that way is because of hatred and simple-mindedness.

  53. Hisham A Youssif:

    You do understand, don't you, that the only film that was actually withdrawn from the Toronto International Film Festival to support the Palestinian cause was the homosexual film “Covered”, a documentary about and supporting of homosexuals which was withdrawn by its director, the openly, proudly gay homosexual filmmaker John Greyson.

    Given your open support for the pro Palestinian boycott by this homosexual filmmaker who only makes films on homosexual subjects, does that mean that we can now count on you to also support the right of homosexuals to live as they please in peace and quiet in without being subject to arbitrary arrest , torture, execution and murder as they are right now in every Arab and Muslim country on earth?

    For example, this means that you, Hisham A Youssif, support the way homosexuals are completely free to publicly live as they want in Israel, and are completely integrated without discrimination into every sector of the Israeli economy, the Israeli Army and the Israeli government, and have even more rights than they do in Western Europe or the US.

  54. Hey friends- this post is wrong- please change it! They did not call for a boycott. The opposite, they support the idea of Israeli films. They find it inappropriate to put a celebratory spotlight on Tel Aviv that completely ignores Gaza, the territories, the fact that Tel Aviv was built on Palestinian villages etc.. In fact, some of the signers have films in the festival- that's not a boycott.

    Read our fact sheets and please don't repeat the framing of those who want to demonize anyone who criticizes Israeli policy.
    The smears and lies: http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/publish/articl
    The factual history of the region: http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/publish/articl

  55. Hey friends- this post is wrong- please change it! They did not call for a boycott. The opposite, they support the idea of Israeli films. They find it inappropriate to put a celebratory spotlight on Tel Aviv that completely ignores Gaza, the territories, the fact that Tel Aviv was built on Palestinian villages etc.. In fact, some of the signers have films in the festival- that's not a boycott.

    Read our fact sheets and please don't repeat the framing of those who want to demonize anyone who criticizes Israeli policy.
    The smears and lies: http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/publish/articl
    The factual history of the region: http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/publish/articl

  56. Cecilie,

    I'm sorry but Mr. Greyson's letter mentions boycotts no less than 10 times.
    http://www.yorku.ca/greyzone/figtrees/docs/open_l

    "To my mind, this isn't the right year to celebrate Brand Israel, or to demonstrate an ostrich-like indifference to the realities (cinematic and otherwise) of the region, or to pointedly ignore the international economic boycott campaign against Israel. Launched by Palestinian NGO's in 2005, and since joined by thousands inside and outside Israel, the campaign is seen as the last hope for forcing Israel to comply with international law. By ignoring this boycott, TIFF has emphatically taken sides — and in the process, forced every filmmaker and audience member who opposes the occupation to cross a type of picket line." – John Greyson

    It is splitting hairs to say he is not calling for a boycott. He is condemning TIFF for not participating in the boycott and that is the same thing.

  57. Cecilie,

    I'm sorry but Mr. Greyson's letter mentions boycotts no less than 10 times.
    http://www.yorku.ca/greyzone/figtrees/docs/open_l

    "To my mind, this isn't the right year to celebrate Brand Israel, or to demonstrate an ostrich-like indifference to the realities (cinematic and otherwise) of the region, or to pointedly ignore the international economic boycott campaign against Israel. Launched by Palestinian NGO's in 2005, and since joined by thousands inside and outside Israel, the campaign is seen as the last hope for forcing Israel to comply with international law. By ignoring this boycott, TIFF has emphatically taken sides — and in the process, forced every filmmaker and audience member who opposes the occupation to cross a type of picket line." – John Greyson

    It is splitting hairs to say he is not calling for a boycott. He is condemning TIFF for not participating in the boycott and that is the same thing.

  58. If this post and the controversy were about Greyson and his letter, you might have a point worth debating. But it's not.

    Greyson can say whatever he wants-he can refer to boycott 100 times, that's his choice, but his is not the letter in question nor the letter being criticized. Frankly, most people don't know who he is and they have never seen his letter. The article above is about the letter signed by 1,000 people including Howard Zinn, Eve Ensler, Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Danny Glover, Viggo Mortenson and many others. THAT letter, which is the only letter those signers agreed to, calls for nothing and reasserts the value of Israeli films. It does not call for a boycott. The above post essentially says that it does.

  59. Cecilie:

    1) John Greyson is an author of both letters.

    2) The second letter is a follow-on to Greyson's letter withdrawing his film from Toronto which is what kicked this all off. When you sign on to a letter you should know it's background. Greyson is at the center of this issue by definition, whether you know it or not. If you paused to do a bit of research you would understand the situation better and the motives of those involved more clearly.

    3) If we put aside Greyson's previous letter and just look at this one. It states "Looking at modern, sophisticated Tel Aviv without also considering the city’s past and the realities of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip, would be like rhapsodizing about the beauty and elegant lifestyles in white-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during apartheid without acknowledging the corresponding black townships of Khayelitsha and Soweto." Now I ask, have these 1,000 people seen the films in question? How can they sign on to that statement without knowing the work in question. That is shameful.

    4) The 1,000 signatories to this letter have called Cameron Bailey and the staff of the Toronto Film Festival liars. Mr. Bailey states very clearly in the above-linked letter that the Israeli government had and has nothing to do with the festival and City to City. The letter makes vague assertions and unvalidated claims about the motives of the Israeli government but those have been explicitly refuted by Mr. Bailey. So the question is, Cecilie, why do you think Mr. Bailey is a liar?

    5) The idea of a cultural boycott of Israeli artists in this context is absurd. Would you sign on to a letter that would boycott the filmmakers of Tehran? What about filmmakers of Moscow? What about filmmakers of New York? All of those are cities which exist inside countries that have committed acts of aggression or brutally oppress their own people. But those filmmakers are may be commentators on their societies and inviting them to come have that conversation at a place like Toronto is a part of our cultural understanding.

    For all these reasons the letter is misguided. If the signatories don't like Israel, that's fine. To take it out on the filmmakers of Tel Aviv (who are producing some of the best cinema in the world these days) is wrong and misguided.

    Let's look at the acclaim films shot in and around Tel Aviv that have received acclaim in recent years:

    LEBANON – Golden Lion, Venice (YESTERDAY!)
    PARADISE NOW – Academy Award Nominee; European Film Award
    THE BAND'S VISIT – European Film Award (2)
    MEDUZOT – Camera D'Or, Cannes
    OR – Camera D'Or, Cannes
    FREE ZONE – Best Actress, Cannes
    BEAUFORT – Silver Bear, Berlin; Academy Award Nominee
    WALTZ WITH BASHIR – Academy Award Nominee; Cannes Competition
    AVANIM – European Film Award; Cannes Competition

    Those films are not propaganda pieces. They are thoughtful commentary on Israel and it's situation – many different facets of it. Several of those filmmakers are represented in the City-to-City section. Why try to shut their voices down?

  60. Cecilie,

    Thank you for posting this clarification. Our apologies for not catching that sooner; I'm sure we could have avoided a lot of the confusion and concerns posted in this blog.

    The blog author has been notified and should get the title corrected soon.

  61. edie:

    Excuse me, but what exactly is incorrect about the title of the blog?

    John Grayson, who is a filmmaker, actor, and activist, who is the leader and initiator of this whole incident, who is the author of the document everyone signed, did definitely boycott TIFF.

    Greyson, with great public fanfare and media saturation, canceled his scheduled appearance in Toronto, removed his film from competition at TIFF, and called on others to join him in his explicit act of cultural boycott of TIFF to protest the Tel Aviv Spotlight. Do you deny this known fact, Edie ?

    Therefore, since Greyson, a filmmaker, actor and activist did in fact boycott the TIFF to protest the Tel Aviv spotlight, the current title of the blog

    "Film makers, Actors, and Activists Boycott Toronto Film Fest For Tel Aviv Spotlight"

    is completely, totally and absolutely as 100% accurate as any statement that has ever been made in the history of the universe, and if you change it, all this will reveal is how intellectually dishonest you are and how biased against anything connected to Israel you and Amnesty International really are.

  62. I agree with the withdrawal…for the first time…people are getting out of their silence and expressing how they really feel…i hope this shall have some good results

  63. Israel is the only country in the middle east with no sodomy laws, and with numerous legal gay organizations which safely conduct gay advocacy efforts.

    In 1992, Israel prohibited discrimination against gays in the workplace. The following year, the army decided to allow openly homosexual soldiers to serve in any capacity.

    There was another breakthrough in 1994, when the Supreme Court required the national airline, El Al, to grant full spousal benefits to the same-sex domestic partner of an airline employee.

    Two years later, the military courts followed suit, allowing gay partners to receive the benefits of fallen soldiers.

    When the transsexual singer Dana International won the 1998 Eurovision song contest, gay Israel donned its sequins and feathers to dance in the streets.

    Israeli State Television regularly broadcasts programs about and supportive of gays and lesbians on its television stations .

    In 2000 the Supreme Court gave an Israeli lesbian couple the right to be registered as the mothers of a son born to one of them.

    Fiercely secular Tel Aviv has had for many years openly lesbian and gay city councilors, and a municipality that fully funds gay pride events and parades.

    In the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, many members of parliament actively support and speak out on behalf of gays and lesbians and the gay community has its greatest champion in Member of Knesset Yael Dayan, the daughter of Moshe Dayan. Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, regulary meets with representives of the Gay community.

    The contrasting treatment of gay men and women in neighboring Arab countries such as the Palestinian Authority, Hamas ruled Gaza, Saudi Arabia and Egypt is well known: Gays are tortured, beheaded or sentenced to long prison terms.

    It is thus incomprehensible why John Greyson, the supposed Gay activist, would then lead the cultural boycott of Tel Aviv, a hugely gay friendly city, in support of the worst, the most cruel persecutors of Gays on earth.

  64. Hisham A Youssif:

    You do understand, don’t you, that the only film that was actually withdrawn from the Toronto International Film Festival to support the Palestinian cause was the homosexual film “Covered”, a documentary about and supporting of homosexuals which was withdrawn by its director, the openly, proudly gay homosexual filmmaker John Greyson.

    Given your open support for the pro Palestinian boycott by this homosexual filmmaker who only makes films on homosexual subjects, does that mean that we can now count on you to also support the right of homosexuals to live as they please in peace and quiet in without being subject to arbitrary arrest , torture, execution and murder as they are right now in every Arab and Muslim country on earth?

    For example, this means that you, Hisham A Youssif, support the way homosexuals are completely free to publicly live as they want in Israel, and are completely integrated without discrimination into every sector of the Israeli economy, the Israeli Army and the Israeli government, and have even more rights than they do in Western Europe or the US.

  65. Hey friends- this post is wrong- please change it! They did not call for a boycott. The opposite, they support the idea of Israeli films. They find it inappropriate to put a celebratory spotlight on Tel Aviv that completely ignores Gaza, the territories, the fact that Tel Aviv was built on Palestinian villages etc.. In fact, some of the signers have films in the festival- that’s not a boycott.

    Read our fact sheets and please don’t repeat the framing of those who want to demonize anyone who criticizes Israeli policy.
    The smears and lies:
    http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/publish/article_1212.shtml
    The factual history of the region: http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/publish/article_1213.shtml

  66. Thanks Edie and others. I just changed the title of the blog post to reflect that the film makers, actors, and activists are in fact protesting the TFF and not boycotting. My apologies for the error.

  67. Cecilie,

    I’m sorry but Mr. Greyson’s letter mentions boycotts no less than 10 times.

    http://www.yorku.ca/greyzone/figtrees/docs/open_letter_to_TIFF.pdf

    “To my mind, this isn’t the right year to celebrate Brand Israel, or to demonstrate an ostrich-like indifference to the realities (cinematic and otherwise) of the region, or to pointedly ignore the international economic boycott campaign against Israel. Launched by Palestinian NGO’s in 2005, and since joined by thousands inside and outside Israel, the campaign is seen as the last hope for forcing Israel to comply with international law. By ignoring this boycott, TIFF has emphatically taken sides — and in the process, forced every filmmaker and audience member who opposes the occupation to cross a type of picket line.” – John Greyson

    It is splitting hairs to say he is not calling for a boycott. He is condemning TIFF for not participating in the boycott and that is the same thing.

  68. If this post and the controversy were about Greyson and his letter, you might have a point worth debating. But it’s not.

    Greyson can say whatever he wants-he can refer to boycott 100 times, that’s his choice, but his is not the letter in question nor the letter being criticized. Frankly, most people don’t know who he is and they have never seen his letter. The article above is about the letter signed by 1,000 people including Howard Zinn, Eve Ensler, Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Danny Glover, Viggo Mortenson and many others. THAT letter, which is the only letter those signers agreed to, calls for nothing and reasserts the value of Israeli films. It does not call for a boycott. The above post essentially says that it does.

  69. Cecilie:

    1) John Greyson is an author of both letters.

    2) The second letter is a follow-on to Greyson’s letter withdrawing his film from Toronto which is what kicked this all off. When you sign on to a letter you should know it’s background. Greyson is at the center of this issue by definition, whether you know it or not. If you paused to do a bit of research you would understand the situation better and the motives of those involved more clearly.

    3) If we put aside Greyson’s previous letter and just look at this one. It states “Looking at modern, sophisticated Tel Aviv without also considering the city’s past and the realities of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip, would be like rhapsodizing about the beauty and elegant lifestyles in white-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during apartheid without acknowledging the corresponding black townships of Khayelitsha and Soweto.” Now I ask, have these 1,000 people seen the films in question? How can they sign on to that statement without knowing the work in question. That is shameful.

    4) The 1,000 signatories to this letter have called Cameron Bailey and the staff of the Toronto Film Festival liars. Mr. Bailey states very clearly in the above-linked letter that the Israeli government had and has nothing to do with the festival and City to City. The letter makes vague assertions and unvalidated claims about the motives of the Israeli government but those have been explicitly refuted by Mr. Bailey. So the question is, Cecilie, why do you think Mr. Bailey is a liar?

    5) The idea of a cultural boycott of Israeli artists in this context is absurd. Would you sign on to a letter that would boycott the filmmakers of Tehran? What about filmmakers of Moscow? What about filmmakers of New York? All of those are cities which exist inside countries that have committed acts of aggression or brutally oppress their own people. But those filmmakers are may be commentators on their societies and inviting them to come have that conversation at a place like Toronto is a part of our cultural understanding.

    For all these reasons the letter is misguided. If the signatories don’t like Israel, that’s fine. To take it out on the filmmakers of Tel Aviv (who are producing some of the best cinema in the world these days) is wrong and misguided.

    Let’s look at the acclaim films shot in and around Tel Aviv that have received acclaim in recent years:

    LEBANON – Golden Lion, Venice (YESTERDAY!)
    PARADISE NOW – Academy Award Nominee; European Film Award
    THE BAND’S VISIT – European Film Award (2)
    MEDUZOT – Camera D’Or, Cannes
    OR – Camera D’Or, Cannes
    FREE ZONE – Best Actress, Cannes
    BEAUFORT – Silver Bear, Berlin; Academy Award Nominee
    WALTZ WITH BASHIR – Academy Award Nominee; Cannes Competition
    AVANIM – European Film Award; Cannes Competition

    Those films are not propaganda pieces. They are thoughtful commentary on Israel and it’s situation – many different facets of it. Several of those filmmakers are represented in the City-to-City section. Why try to shut their voices down?

  70. Cecilie,

    Thank you for posting this clarification. Our apologies for not catching that sooner; I’m sure we could have avoided a lot of the confusion and concerns posted in this blog.

    The blog author has been notified and should get the title corrected soon.

  71. edie:

    Excuse me, but what exactly is incorrect about the title of the blog?

    John Grayson, who is a filmmaker, actor, and activist, who is the leader and initiator of this whole incident, who is the author of the document everyone signed, did definitely boycott TIFF.

    Greyson, with great public fanfare and media saturation, canceled his scheduled appearance in Toronto, removed his film from competition at TIFF, and called on others to join him in his explicit act of cultural boycott of TIFF to protest the Tel Aviv Spotlight. Do you deny this known fact, Edie ?

    Therefore, since Greyson, a filmmaker, actor and activist did in fact boycott the TIFF to protest the Tel Aviv spotlight, the current title of the blog

    “Film makers, Actors, and Activists Boycott Toronto Film Fest For Tel Aviv Spotlight”

    is completely, totally and absolutely as 100% accurate as any statement that has ever been made in the history of the universe, and if you change it, all this will reveal is how intellectually dishonest you are and how biased against anything connected to Israel you and Amnesty International really are.

  72. Israel is the only country in the middle east with no sodomy laws, and with numerous legal gay organizations which safely conduct gay advocacy efforts.

    In 1992, Israel prohibited discrimination against gays in the workplace. The following year, the army decided to allow openly homosexual soldiers to serve in any capacity.

    There was another breakthrough in 1994, when the Supreme Court required the national airline, El Al, to grant full spousal benefits to the same-sex domestic partner of an airline employee.

    Two years later, the military courts followed suit, allowing gay partners to receive the benefits of fallen soldiers.

    When the transsexual singer Dana International won the 1998 Eurovision song contest, gay Israel donned its sequins and feathers to dance in the streets.

    Israeli State Television regularly broadcasts programs about and supportive of gays and lesbians on its television stations .

    In 2000 the Supreme Court gave an Israeli lesbian couple the right to be registered as the mothers of a son born to one of them.

    Fiercely secular Tel Aviv has had for many years openly lesbian and gay city councilors, and a municipality that fully funds gay pride events and parades.

    In the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, many members of parliament actively support and speak out on behalf of gays and lesbians and the gay community has its greatest champion in Member of Knesset Yael Dayan, the daughter of Moshe Dayan. Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, regulary meets with representives of the Gay community.

    The contrasting treatment of gay men and women in neighboring Arab countries such as the Palestinian Authority, Hamas ruled Gaza, Saudi Arabia and Egypt is well known: Gays are tortured, beheaded or sentenced to long prison terms.

    It is thus incomprehensible why John Greyson, the supposed Gay activist, would then lead the cultural boycott of Tel Aviv, a hugely gay friendly city, in support of the worst, the most cruel persecutors of Gays on earth.

  73. Thanks Edie and others. I just changed the title of the blog post to reflect that the film makers, actors, and activists are in fact protesting the TFF and not boycotting. My apologies for the error.

  74. Judo,

    You distract again. This post was about the letter of protest, "The Toronto Declaration: No Celebration of Occupation" which clearly does not call for a boycott. "We do not protest the individual Israeli filmmakers included in City to City," it states, "nor do we in any way suggest that Israeli films should be unwelcome at TIFF." In fact, TIFF has a long history of including Israeli filmmakers in the festival without protest. Udi Aloni, one of the letter’s drafters and a filmmaker from Israel, premiered his film Fallen Angel at the festival. Also, one of the protest letter-signers is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, filmmaker Elia Suleiman, whose film, The Time that Remains, is featured in this year's festival.

    Also, Viggo Mortenson, a well known actor who performed in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the History of Violence, Hidalgo and others, signed onto the letter of protest, but is still attending the festival.

    What specific individuals choose to do in addition to signing the letter is their personal choice, but after carefully re-reading the letter which does not call for any specific action, we can see that it indeed is a letter of protest and not a call for boycott. We must go by the actual letter and how it was written and not what you and others wish to construe from the letter.

    We changed the title to more accurately reflect what the post is about – the protest letter and the signatories – not a call for boycott.

  75. Well now this article doesn't make any sense. To whit:

    "The open letter to the TIFF highlighted several reasons for the withdrawal from the festival."

    If you're not mentioning the boycott than what withdrawal are you talking about?

    "The protest began originally with film-maker John Greyson from Canada who withdrew his documentary “Covered”, which is about the violence in Bosnia-Herzengovina that shut down the 2008 Sarajevo Queer Festival, the Washington Times reported."

    Mr. Greyson explicitly states in his letter that his reason for withdrawing his film is TIFF's refusal to participate in PACBI's cultural & artistic boycott. So, if you are not discussing boycotts, then this shouldn't be mentioned either. To go on:

    "Even amidst criticism, Loach, O’Brien, and Laverty and many others have defended their decision to withdraw from the festival and encouraged others to take part in the greater international Boycott and Divestment Campaign any way that they could."

    They are explicitly stating that this is part of a campaign to boycott. I'm not sure what's so misleading about your title?

    Finally:

    "Amnesty International has taken no position on cultural or other boycotts anywhere in the world,"

    Why mention that if this isn't about a boycott. All I'm saying is that you have multiple mentions (with quotes) of the reasoning behind the letter as being a boycott. While the letter may try to be PC and avoid that issue, at heart, this is what it is. I disagree with them but I think the bigger problem is the shading of truth here. I fear that the signatories to this letter mostly don't understand the situation at hand and I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they are not collectively calling for a boycott but it is clear that the marquee names and originators here are – or at least objecting to TIFF's not participating in a boycott which amounts to the same thing.

  76. September 12, 2009

    Israeli Film on '82 Lebanon War Wins Venice Prize

    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    VENICE, Italy (AP) — ''Lebanon,'' an Israeli film that recounts Israel's 1982 invasion of the Middle East country through the eyes of four soldiers in a tank, won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday.

    The festival jury announced the Golden Lion and other prizes on the last day of the 11-day screening of films from around the world. An Iranian film about women and repression took the No. 2 prize, the Silver Lion.

    ''Lebanon,'' directed by Samuel Maoz, tells the story of Israeli paratroopers searching a hostile town. The conflict is seen through the binocular-aided eyes of those inside a tank, with their cramped quarters lending an anxious sense of claustrophobia to their viewpoint.

    ''I dedicate this work to people all over the world that come back from the war safe and sound,'' the director told the audience at the award ceremony. ''They work, get married, have children,'' but the memories get ''stuck in their souls.''

    Maoz was a young man when he served in the Israeli military during the invasion, which led to a long occupation of southern Lebanon.

    Variety has described the film, one of 25 which competed for the Golden Lion, as the ''boldest and best of the recent mini-wave'' of Israeli movies. The awards jury was headed by Ang Lee, himself a Golden Lion-winning director, who marveled that if ''Lebanon'' was Maoz's first film what might he do next.

    He said the jurors were both quick and unanimous in choosing ''Lebanon'' and were ''happy not be inside that tank which could have been any tank in any war.''

    Maoz told Israeli Channel 1 TV in a phone interview immediately after winning that he hoped the film ''helps people understand our country better, understand our society better, and the complexity of our society better.''

  77. Re: 'Lebanon'

    Two points about war, in general, that most people fail to consider, from a military veteran of war:

    1. The victims of war are more widespread than you could imagine. The soldiers of both sides are victims. The friends and family of the soldiers are victims. The civilians injured or killed are victims. The friends and family of the civilians injured or killed are victims. The civilians with property damaged or destroyed are victims. The civilians who must flee their homes are victims. The friends and families of civilians who must flee their homes are victims. The civilians who must live in fear are victims. The civilians whose lives are disrupted are victims–example: an average resident of Baghdad who went to work in an average office each day and supported an average family. Suddenly, the employer of said resident is no longer in business because the building was destroyed or the owner was killed or the suppliers for the company were destroyed, etc. It is possible to expand upon this list much much more, but this is just to get one thinking.

    2. The 'enemy' is not a thing. It is a person, just like you. A person who has friends and a family, just like you. A person who is a victim, just like you. Those who orchestrate the instigation of war are rarely put in jeopardy. They take lightly the responsibility of putting millions of others in jeopardy. If the humanity of the 'enemy' is discounted, it lends tacit legitimacy to the architects of war.

    "We are fools to make war on our brothers in arms."

  78. Judo,

    You distract again. This post was about the letter of protest, “The Toronto Declaration: No Celebration of Occupation” which clearly does not call for a boycott. “We do not protest the individual Israeli filmmakers included in City to City,” it states, “nor do we in any way suggest that Israeli films should be unwelcome at TIFF.” In fact, TIFF has a long history of including Israeli filmmakers in the festival without protest. Udi Aloni, one of the letter’s drafters and a filmmaker from Israel, premiered his film Fallen Angel at the festival. Also, one of the protest letter-signers is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, filmmaker Elia Suleiman, whose film, The Time that Remains, is featured in this year’s festival.

    Also, Viggo Mortenson, a well known actor who performed in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the History of Violence, Hidalgo and others, signed onto the letter of protest, but is still attending the festival.

    What specific individuals choose to do in addition to signing the letter is their personal choice, but after carefully re-reading the letter which does not call for any specific action, we can see that it indeed is a letter of protest and not a call for boycott. We must go by the actual letter and how it was written and not what you and others wish to construe from the letter.

    We changed the title to more accurately reflect what the post is about – the protest letter and the signatories – not a call for boycott.

  79. Well now this article doesn’t make any sense. To whit:

    “The open letter to the TIFF highlighted several reasons for the withdrawal from the festival.”

    If you’re not mentioning the boycott than what withdrawal are you talking about?

    “The protest began originally with film-maker John Greyson from Canada who withdrew his documentary “Covered”, which is about the violence in Bosnia-Herzengovina that shut down the 2008 Sarajevo Queer Festival, the Washington Times reported.”

    Mr. Greyson explicitly states in his letter that his reason for withdrawing his film is TIFF’s refusal to participate in PACBI’s cultural & artistic boycott. So, if you are not discussing boycotts, then this shouldn’t be mentioned either. To go on:

    “Even amidst criticism, Loach, O’Brien, and Laverty and many others have defended their decision to withdraw from the festival and encouraged others to take part in the greater international Boycott and Divestment Campaign any way that they could.”

    They are explicitly stating that this is part of a campaign to boycott. I’m not sure what’s so misleading about your title?

    Finally:

    “Amnesty International has taken no position on cultural or other boycotts anywhere in the world,”

    Why mention that if this isn’t about a boycott. All I’m saying is that you have multiple mentions (with quotes) of the reasoning behind the letter as being a boycott. While the letter may try to be PC and avoid that issue, at heart, this is what it is. I disagree with them but I think the bigger problem is the shading of truth here. I fear that the signatories to this letter mostly don’t understand the situation at hand and I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they are not collectively calling for a boycott but it is clear that the marquee names and originators here are – or at least objecting to TIFF’s not participating in a boycott which amounts to the same thing.

  80. September 12, 2009

    Israeli Film on ’82 Lebanon War Wins Venice Prize

    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    VENICE, Italy (AP) — ”Lebanon,” an Israeli film that recounts Israel’s 1982 invasion of the Middle East country through the eyes of four soldiers in a tank, won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday.

    The festival jury announced the Golden Lion and other prizes on the last day of the 11-day screening of films from around the world. An Iranian film about women and repression took the No. 2 prize, the Silver Lion.

    ”Lebanon,” directed by Samuel Maoz, tells the story of Israeli paratroopers searching a hostile town. The conflict is seen through the binocular-aided eyes of those inside a tank, with their cramped quarters lending an anxious sense of claustrophobia to their viewpoint.

    ”I dedicate this work to people all over the world that come back from the war safe and sound,” the director told the audience at the award ceremony. ”They work, get married, have children,” but the memories get ”stuck in their souls.”

    Maoz was a young man when he served in the Israeli military during the invasion, which led to a long occupation of southern Lebanon.

    Variety has described the film, one of 25 which competed for the Golden Lion, as the ”boldest and best of the recent mini-wave” of Israeli movies. The awards jury was headed by Ang Lee, himself a Golden Lion-winning director, who marveled that if ”Lebanon” was Maoz’s first film what might he do next.

    He said the jurors were both quick and unanimous in choosing ”Lebanon” and were ”happy not be inside that tank which could have been any tank in any war.”

    Maoz told Israeli Channel 1 TV in a phone interview immediately after winning that he hoped the film ”helps people understand our country better, understand our society better, and the complexity of our society better.”

  81. Re: ‘Lebanon’

    Two points about war, in general, that most people fail to consider, from a military veteran of war:

    1. The victims of war are more widespread than you could imagine. The soldiers of both sides are victims. The friends and family of the soldiers are victims. The civilians injured or killed are victims. The friends and family of the civilians injured or killed are victims. The civilians with property damaged or destroyed are victims. The civilians who must flee their homes are victims. The friends and families of civilians who must flee their homes are victims. The civilians who must live in fear are victims. The civilians whose lives are disrupted are victims–example: an average resident of Baghdad who went to work in an average office each day and supported an average family. Suddenly, the employer of said resident is no longer in business because the building was destroyed or the owner was killed or the suppliers for the company were destroyed, etc. It is possible to expand upon this list much much more, but this is just to get one thinking.

    2. The ‘enemy’ is not a thing. It is a person, just like you. A person who has friends and a family, just like you. A person who is a victim, just like you. Those who orchestrate the instigation of war are rarely put in jeopardy. They take lightly the responsibility of putting millions of others in jeopardy. If the humanity of the ‘enemy’ is discounted, it lends tacit legitimacy to the architects of war.

    “We are fools to make war on our brothers in arms.”

  82. Israeli director: I may not have won at Venice if Jane Fonda was on jury

    Haaretz

    The director of the Israeli anti-war film "Lebanon" has said he may not have won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday if the actress Jane Fonda, who has protested against Israeli cinema being spotlighted, had been on the jury.

    "The point of a film like mine is to open a dialogue, to get people talking to each other about important issues," Samuel Maoz told the British paper The Observer, in comments published Sunday.

    "This is something you can't do if films are boycotted. It makes no sense to boycott art. Maybe I wouldn't have won if Jane Fonda was on the jury, but she wasn't."

    Fonda, 72, is among the signatories of a letter protesting the decision of the Toronto International Film Festival to screen a series of movies about Tel Aviv.

    The festival jury announced the Golden Lion and other prizes on the last day of the 11-day international festival.

    Maoz's anti-war film recounts Israel's 1982 invasion of its northern neighbor through soldiers' eyes, telling the story of paratroopers searching a hostile town. The conflict is seen through the binocular-aided eyes of soldiers in an armored vehicle.
    The director was a young man when he served as a combat soldier in the Israel Defense Forces during the invasion.

    The operation led to a two-decade long occupation by Israel.

    "I suppose every filmmaker has the naive, even pathetic dream that his film could be the one that finally stops a war," Maoz was further quoted as saying.

    "But making this film has got me my life back and that is more precious than any award. Without fully knowing it, I have been deeply traumatized since 1982, as has a whole generation of Israelis, people who are now running the country. Making 'Lebanon' and finally confronting what happened in that war, has given me my true feelings back and I can cry real tears once more."

    The weekly entertainment magazine, Variety, has described the film as the boldest and best of the recent mini-wave of Israeli movies; the New York Times called it "an astonishing piece of cinema."

    The awards jury was headed by Ang Lee, himself a Golden Lion-winning director.

  83. Israeli director: I may not have won at Venice if Jane Fonda was on jury

    Haaretz

    The director of the Israeli anti-war film “Lebanon” has said he may not have won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday if the actress Jane Fonda, who has protested against Israeli cinema being spotlighted, had been on the jury.

    “The point of a film like mine is to open a dialogue, to get people talking to each other about important issues,” Samuel Maoz told the British paper The Observer, in comments published Sunday.

    “This is something you can’t do if films are boycotted. It makes no sense to boycott art. Maybe I wouldn’t have won if Jane Fonda was on the jury, but she wasn’t.”

    Fonda, 72, is among the signatories of a letter protesting the decision of the Toronto International Film Festival to screen a series of movies about Tel Aviv.

    The festival jury announced the Golden Lion and other prizes on the last day of the 11-day international festival.

    Maoz’s anti-war film recounts Israel’s 1982 invasion of its northern neighbor through soldiers’ eyes, telling the story of paratroopers searching a hostile town. The conflict is seen through the binocular-aided eyes of soldiers in an armored vehicle.
    The director was a young man when he served as a combat soldier in the Israel Defense Forces during the invasion.

    The operation led to a two-decade long occupation by Israel.

    “I suppose every filmmaker has the naive, even pathetic dream that his film could be the one that finally stops a war,” Maoz was further quoted as saying.

    “But making this film has got me my life back and that is more precious than any award. Without fully knowing it, I have been deeply traumatized since 1982, as has a whole generation of Israelis, people who are now running the country. Making ‘Lebanon’ and finally confronting what happened in that war, has given me my true feelings back and I can cry real tears once more.”

    The weekly entertainment magazine, Variety, has described the film as the boldest and best of the recent mini-wave of Israeli movies; the New York Times called it “an astonishing piece of cinema.”

    The awards jury was headed by Ang Lee, himself a Golden Lion-winning director.

  84. Is this true Edie and Zahir?

    Is Amnesty International itself participating in a cultural boycott of Leonard Cohen for the crime of playing Tel Aviv in direct contradicition to your above published claim that "Amnesty International has taken no position on cultural or other boycotts anywhere in the world" ?

    Leonard Cohen, 74 year old poet, singer and beloved Canadian Icon, targeted by Palestinian boycott campaign supported by Amnesty International for his planned Tel Aviv charity concert

    September 12th, 2009

    According to the THE CANADIAN PRESS, Songwriter Leonard Cohen, one of Montreal’s most beloved talents, was harassed in his hometown Saturday, at his favorite Montreal haunt, a breakfast and bagel cafe, over his upcoming performance in Tel Aviv to benefit Palestinian and Israeli peace groups.

    At a protest organized by a local pro-Palestinian group, pamphlets handed out to passers-by in front the cafe. “This action is a demand that Leonard Cohen does not play a show in Israel to lend credence and normalize the apartheid state,” said a spokesman for the group.

    Protesters have stalked the 74-year-old poet, singer and human rights activist during his world tour since he announced the Tel Aviv date.

    Amnesty International promptly yanked support for Cohen and withdrew its sponsorship.

    A concert scheduled in the West Bank city of Ramallah was also canceled after becoming embroiled in the boycott campaign.

    Cohen’s efforts to pacify critics by donating proceeds to peace groups and by performing in the West Bank have been derided as an attempt to “whitewash crimes of the Israeli state.”

    The campaign against Cohen’s concert was spearheaded by a group of Palestinian academics calling for an international economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel since 2004.

    The Toronto International Film Festival is also currently embroiled in the uproar for featuring Tel Aviv in its inaugural City to City program.

    Artists like Icelandic musician Bjork and hip-hop superstar Snoop Dogg have been targeted by the organization, which has found support in artists like Brian Eno, Danny Glover and Jane Fonda.

    But the boycott campaign doesn’t seem to be finding traction.

    Israel has been besieged by a growing number of high-profile acts in the last couple of years who – unlike Cohen – have performed entirely for profit.

    Cohen’s spokeswoman Tiffany Shipp said Friday there would be no comment on the Montreal protest but Robert Kory, Cohen’s manager, told the Jerusalem Post in July that free speech was also a human right.

    “My response to those who call for a boycott is very simple,” he said.

    “When I talk to people calling for Leonard to boycott Israel, I ask them: ‘Why can’t people have different approaches? Can’t we respect each other and have a different way of addressing a common problem?’ “

  85. Is this true Edie and Zahir?

    Is Amnesty International itself participating in a cultural boycott of Leonard Cohen for the crime of playing Tel Aviv in direct contradicition to your above published claim that “Amnesty International has taken no position on cultural or other boycotts anywhere in the world” ?

    Leonard Cohen, 74 year old poet, singer and beloved Canadian Icon, targeted by Palestinian boycott campaign supported by Amnesty International for his planned Tel Aviv charity concert

    September 12th, 2009

    According to the THE CANADIAN PRESS, Songwriter Leonard Cohen, one of Montreal’s most beloved talents, was harassed in his hometown Saturday, at his favorite Montreal haunt, a breakfast and bagel cafe, over his upcoming performance in Tel Aviv to benefit Palestinian and Israeli peace groups.

    At a protest organized by a local pro-Palestinian group, pamphlets handed out to passers-by in front the cafe. “This action is a demand that Leonard Cohen does not play a show in Israel to lend credence and normalize the apartheid state,” said a spokesman for the group.

    Protesters have stalked the 74-year-old poet, singer and human rights activist during his world tour since he announced the Tel Aviv date.

    Amnesty International promptly yanked support for Cohen and withdrew its sponsorship.

    A concert scheduled in the West Bank city of Ramallah was also canceled after becoming embroiled in the boycott campaign.

    Cohen’s efforts to pacify critics by donating proceeds to peace groups and by performing in the West Bank have been derided as an attempt to “whitewash crimes of the Israeli state.”

    The campaign against Cohen’s concert was spearheaded by a group of Palestinian academics calling for an international economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel since 2004.

    The Toronto International Film Festival is also currently embroiled in the uproar for featuring Tel Aviv in its inaugural City to City program.

    Artists like Icelandic musician Bjork and hip-hop superstar Snoop Dogg have been targeted by the organization, which has found support in artists like Brian Eno, Danny Glover and Jane Fonda.

    But the boycott campaign doesn’t seem to be finding traction.

    Israel has been besieged by a growing number of high-profile acts in the last couple of years who – unlike Cohen – have performed entirely for profit.

    Cohen’s spokeswoman Tiffany Shipp said Friday there would be no comment on the Montreal protest but Robert Kory, Cohen’s manager, told the Jerusalem Post in July that free speech was also a human right.

    “My response to those who call for a boycott is very simple,” he said.

    “When I talk to people calling for Leonard to boycott Israel, I ask them: ‘Why can’t people have different approaches? Can’t we respect each other and have a different way of addressing a common problem?’ “

  86. Judo,

    Re Leonard Cohen. No, Amnesty is not participating in any cultural or other boycott. You shouldn't believe everything you read in the press as there have been several reports on this issue that have been inaccurate.

  87. Judo,

    Re Leonard Cohen. No, Amnesty is not participating in any cultural or other boycott. You shouldn’t believe everything you read in the press as there have been several reports on this issue that have been inaccurate.

  88. Edie: Really?

    Even though there is a press release on your own Amnesty International web site
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/025

    "Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) was approached by representatives of Leonard Cohen for advice on setting up a fund (the Fund for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace) to receive and distribute proceeds from a planned concert in Tel Aviv….”

    “AIUSA will not be part of the Fund nor benefit financially from the proceeds of the concert in Tel Aviv."

    in which you, Amnesty International, admit that you refused to give assitance to Leonard Cohen to make as a charitable contribution to the families of Palestinians killed in the fighting, the enormously generous gift the entire profit from a concert in Tel Aviv expected to attract at least 50,000 paying fans ?

    Do you also deny that the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) issued a press release on August 17th
    visible here : http://palsolidarity.org/2009/08/8126
    stating:
    "Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) commented, “We welcome Amnesty International’s withdrawal from this ill-conceived project which is clearly intended to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. By abandoning the Leonard Cohen project in Tel Aviv, Amnesty International has dealt Cohen and his public relations team a severe blow, denying them the cover of the organization’s prestige and respectability.”

    Will you make it clear to American Jews when you solicit them funds for charitable donations and support during these difficult economic times that you turned down a very, very large gift from a beloved Jewish folk singer only because the money would be raised as proceeds of a concert in Tel Aviv and you were bowing to Palestinian demands to boycott Israel?

  89. Edie: Really?

    Even though there is a press release on your own Amnesty International web site
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/025

    "Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) was approached by representatives of Leonard Cohen for advice on setting up a fund (the Fund for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace) to receive and distribute proceeds from a planned concert in Tel Aviv….”

    “AIUSA will not be part of the Fund nor benefit financially from the proceeds of the concert in Tel Aviv."

    in which you, Amnesty International, admit that you refused to give assitance to Leonard Cohen to make as a charitable contribution to the families of Palestinians killed in the fighting, the enormously generous gift the entire profit from a concert in Tel Aviv expected to attract at least 50,000 paying fans ?

    Do you also deny that the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) issued a press release on August 17th
    visible here : http://palsolidarity.org/2009/08/8126
    stating:
    "Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) commented, “We welcome Amnesty International’s withdrawal from this ill-conceived project which is clearly intended to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. By abandoning the Leonard Cohen project in Tel Aviv, Amnesty International has dealt Cohen and his public relations team a severe blow, denying them the cover of the organization’s prestige and respectability.”

    Will you make it clear to American Jews when you solicit them funds for charitable donations and support during these difficult economic times that you turned down a very, very large gift from a beloved Jewish folk singer only because the money would be raised as proceeds of a concert in Tel Aviv and you were bowing to Palestinian demands to boycott Israel?

  90. Edie: Really?

    Even though there is a press release on your own Amnesty International web site
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/025

    "Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) was approached by representatives of Leonard Cohen for advice on setting up a fund (the Fund for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace) to receive and distribute proceeds from a planned concert in Tel Aviv….”

    “AIUSA will not be part of the Fund nor benefit financially from the proceeds of the concert in Tel Aviv."

    in which you, Amnesty International, admit that you refused to give assitance to Leonard Cohen to make as a charitable contribution to the families of Palestinians killed in the fighting, the enormously generous gift the entire profit from a concert in Tel Aviv expected to attract at least 50,000 paying fans ?

    Do you also deny that the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) issued a press release on August 17th
    visible here : http://palsolidarity.org/2009/08/8126
    stating:
    "Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) commented, “We welcome Amnesty International’s withdrawal from this ill-conceived project which is clearly intended to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. By abandoning the Leonard Cohen project in Tel Aviv, Amnesty International has dealt Cohen and his public relations team a severe blow, denying them the cover of the organization’s prestige and respectability.”

    Will you make it clear to American Jews when you solicit them funds for charitable donations and support during these difficult economic times that you turned down a very, very large gift from a beloved Jewish folk singer only because the money would be raised as proceeds of a concert in Tel Aviv and you were bowing to Palestinian demands to boycott Israel?

  91. September 14, 2009 at 4:27 PM

    Toronto, On…
    Natalie Portman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jerry Seinfeld, Darren Starr, Jason Alexander, Lenny Kravitz, Lisa Kudrow, Canadians Robert Lantos, Ivan Reitman, David Cronenberg, Moses Znaimer, Patricia Rozema are among the respected film professionals who have today endorsed the following statement as a response to the group that opposes the Toronto International Film Festival’s spotlight on Tel Aviv.

    “We don’t need another blacklist.

    We applaud the Toronto International Film Festival for including the Israeli film community in the Festival’s City to City program. The visiting filmmakers represent a dynamic national cinema, the best of Israel’s open, uncensored, artistic expression. Anyone who has actually seen recent Israeli cinema, movies that are political and personal, comic and tragic, often critical, knows they are in no way a propaganda arm for any government policy. Blacklisting them only stifles the exchange of cultural knowledge that artists should be the first to defend and protect. Those who refuse to see these films for themselves or prevent them from being seen by others are violating a cherished right shared by Canada and all democratic countries.”

  92. Filmmakers and writers seek to censor Israeli film

    by Alan M. Dershowitz

    A group of hard-Left filmmakers and writers from around the world have been using their celebrity to try to coerce the Toronto International Film Festival into banning Israeli films.

    Their petition, which is filled with misstatement of facts and rewriting of history, describes Israel as "an apartheid regime."

    It focuses not so much on Israel's occupation of the West Bank since 1967, but rather on Israel's very existence since 1948. It characterizes Tel Aviv, a city built by the sweat of Jews largely on barren coastal land, as illegitimate.

    It never mentions the fact that the Palestinians were offered and rejected statehood in 1938, 1948, 1967 and 2000-2001. It fails to mention that when Israel ended its occupation of Gaza, the result was rockets being fired at Israeli schoolchildren and other civilians.

    They claim that the inspiration for their censorship effort includes "former President Jimmy Carter," who they say has characterized Israel as an "apartheid regime." Jimmy Carter has said many nasty things about Israel, but he has expressly disclaimed any allegation that the Israeli regime itself is apartheid.

    He acknowledges that Israel is a multicultural democracy in which Arabs vote, serve in the Knesset, serve on the Supreme Court and teach in Israeli universities. Many even volunteer to serve in the Israeli Army. His use – misuse in my view – of the word "apartheid" was limited to Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

  93. Filmmakers and writers seek to censor Israeli film ( continued )

    by Alan M. Dershowitz

    As Rhoda Kadalie and Julia Bertelsmann, two black South African women whose families were active in the anti-apartheid movement, wrote recently:

    Israel is not an apartheid state … Arab citizens of Israel can vote and serve in the Knesset; black South Africans could not vote until 1994. There are no laws in Israel that discriminate against Arab citizens or separate them from Jews. …South Africa had a job reservation policy for white people; Israel has adopted pro-Arab affirmative action measures in some sectors. Israeli schools, universities and hospitals make no distinction between Jews and Arabs. An Arab citizen who brings a case before an Israeli court will have that case decided on the basis of merit, not ethnicity. This was never the case for blacks under apartheid."

    Kadalie and Bertelsmann are critical of Israel's policies in the occupied territories, but add:

    "Racism and discrimination do not form the rationale for Israel's policies and actions … In the West Bank, measures such as the ugly security barrier have been used to prevent suicide bombings and attacks on civilians, not to enforce any racist ideology. Without the ongoing conflict and the tendency of Palestinian leaders to resort to violence, these would not exist."

    At a recent concert by Daniel Berenboim and an orchestra composed of Israelis and Palestinians held at the Young Men's Christian Association in Jerusalem, I sat next to an Israeli Arab who was Israel's minister of culture. This is a cabinet position. The audience, too, was a mixture of Israelis and Palestinians, many from the West Bank. Hardly a feature of apartheid!

    The ill-informed signers of the censorship petition ignore these realities, and in wrongly exploiting the apartheid analogy, they have devalued the anti-apartheid struggle itself.

    According to Congressman John Conyers, who helped found the Congressional Black Caucus, applying the word apartheid to Israel belittles real racism and apartheid; the word "does not serve the cause of peace, and the use of it against the Jewish people in particular, who have been victims of the worst kind of discrimination, discrimination resulting in death, is offensive and wrong."

    Instead of submitting their own film or writings into the marketplace of ideas, the censors seek to close down this marketplace to Israel. What are they afraid of? Why won't they compete in the open marketplace of ideas and try to influence public opinion in a manner consistent with freedom of speech, rather than employing the age-old weapon of tyrants, namely censorship.

    The reason is clear. They know they would lose. That is why they seek to close it to views different than theirs. "Speech for me but not for thee!," is the age-old mantra of censors.

    Who are these censors? They consist mostly of obscure "activists" who nobody has ever heard of, but they also include Jane Fonda, who famously supported the Viet Cong and refused to condemn the Cambodian genocide. Other signatories, such as Danny Glover, Alice Walker and David Byrne are way out of their league when it comes to knowledge of the Middle East. They should know better than to be demanding censorship relating to a country about which they know so little.

    Moreover, I do not recall their names on petitions condemning – or calling for censorship of – such truly repressive regimes as Iran, Cuba, China, Zimbabwe, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other nations that discriminate against women, gays, dissidents, religious minorities and others.

    Imagine how the hard Left would react if anyone tried to censor or boycott these writers and actors! They would cry "McCarthyism." Yet McCarthyism from the hard left is as dangerous to liberty as McCarthyism from the hard right.

  94. It's revolting to watch Canadian jews who are always at the forefront bleating about the inalienable values of unfettered pluralism, coyly hoist the rag of the israeli regime " for and by the supremacy of the jewish population."

    The Toronto Star of David is virulently antiPalestinian ( you can see the same, stale dishonest rhetoric on this very board) and its circulation capacity is taking on water faster than the USS Liberty.

    Good thing.

    Good riddance.

  95. Edie: Really?

    Even though there is a press release on your own Amnesty International web site

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/025/2009/en/4f6becdc-e532-4f64-a755-c598a6c16e91/mde150252009en.pdf

    “Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) was approached by representatives of Leonard Cohen for advice on setting up a fund (the Fund for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace) to receive and distribute proceeds from a planned concert in Tel Aviv….”

    “AIUSA will not be part of the Fund nor benefit financially from the proceeds of the concert in Tel Aviv.”

    in which you, Amnesty International, admit that you refused to give assitance to Leonard Cohen to make as a charitable contribution to the families of Palestinians killed in the fighting, the enormously generous gift the entire profit from a concert in Tel Aviv expected to attract at least 50,000 paying fans ?

    Do you also deny that the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) issued a press release on August 17th
    visible here :
    http://palsolidarity.org/2009/08/8126
    stating:
    “Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) commented, “We welcome Amnesty International’s withdrawal from this ill-conceived project which is clearly intended to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. By abandoning the Leonard Cohen project in Tel Aviv, Amnesty International has dealt Cohen and his public relations team a severe blow, denying them the cover of the organization’s prestige and respectability.”

    Will you make it clear to American Jews when you solicit them funds for charitable donations and support during these difficult economic times that you turned down a very, very large gift from a beloved Jewish folk singer only because the money would be raised as proceeds of a concert in Tel Aviv and you were bowing to Palestinian demands to boycott Israel?

  96. Edie:

    How can you claim that Amnesty International is not conducting a cultural boycott of Israel and Leonard Cohen?

    The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) press release

    visible here :
    http://palsolidarity.org/2009/08/8126

    states:

    “After reports in late July that Amnesty International would manage a fund from the proceeds of Leonard Cohen’s concert in Israel, groups in occupied Palestine and around the world mobilized to pressure Amnesty International not to participate in such a fund.”

    “Among those urging Amnesty International to boycott involvement with the Cohen concert are former Amnesty International USA board member Prof. Naseer Aruri, Amnesty International USA’s former Midwest Regional Director Doris Strieter, peace activist Kathy Kelly, and a number of Amnesty International members.”

    “The announcement of Cohen’s planned concert in Israel was swiftly met by letters from British, Israeli and Palestinian organizations and protests at his concerts in New York, Boston, Ottawa and Belfast, among other cities, calling on Cohen to respect the international call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.“

    “Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) commented, “We welcome Amnesty International’s withdrawal from this ill-conceived project which is clearly intended to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. By abandoning the Leonard Cohen project in Tel Aviv, Amnesty International has dealt Cohen and his public relations team a severe blow, denying them the cover of the organization’s prestige and respectability.”

  97. First off, to those that defend Israel's atrocities, a few homemade rocket bombs and a few suicide bombers DOES NOT justify Israels use of White Phosphorus tanks, jets and missiles on Palestinian civilians. Also i challenge any Non-Jew to research the Talmud and let it show just what the "innocent" and "righteous" jews think of Goyim

  98. Stephen and Herbert you are both grossly wrong in what you write.

    Not only Palestinians, but Hamas has indicated willingness to abide by the Arab peace plan, which is accepted by 99% of the world and which grants israel borders way beyond what they were entitled in the original document and leaves Palestinians with less than half what they were promised.

    The ONLY dissenters of that peace plan, are the Israel, their pet the USA and the last time my disgusting nation of Australia. Thus THESE three nations are at this time, the only thing blocking peace in the Middle East. To accuse the victims of Israeli aggression for being the only impediemnt to peace then becomes a case of extreme dishonesty and chutzpah.

    Palestine was in fact created at the SAME TIME and in the SAME declaration as israel was created. The claim that it was Jordan, is an israeli lie and is somewhat predicated on the necessity of the Arab armies in having to occupy some of the rapidly diminshing Palestine, when the Zionists went on their first rampage and sought to drive the Palestinians into the sea.

    Today Israel is illegally occupying large areas which have as much right to be termed Palestine in modern times, as Israel has to exist and histoprically several thousand years more right to exist. Palestine existed before the Hebrews breiefly occupied it and called it Israel and Palestine existed long after that short lived state was shut down by the Romans. Any attempt to deligitimise Palestine has the effect of doing the same for Israel, because BOTH nations were brought into being on the same document. Today it is Israel who is in breach of the original resolution and of numerous international laws.

    Deceitfully claiming Israel is under any sort of threat, is farcical these days and nobody except braindead propaganda containers actually believes there is any element of defense involved in the endless Israeli military actions. Calling people anti-Semites for criticising israel is also worn out, nobodfy cares anymore. The mask has fallen from your demon faces and it seems silly for you to keep pretending you are the good guys.

    You are demons and it really isn't possible to put this truth back in the box anymore.

  99. Edie:

    How can you claim that Amnesty International is not conducting a cultural boycott of Israel and Leonard Cohen?

    The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) press release

    visible here :
    http://palsolidarity.org/2009/08/8126

    states:

    “After reports in late July that Amnesty International would manage a fund from the proceeds of Leonard Cohen’s concert in Israel, groups in occupied Palestine and around the world mobilized to pressure Amnesty International not to participate in such a fund.”

    “Among those urging Amnesty International to boycott involvement with the Cohen concert are former Amnesty International USA board member Prof. Naseer Aruri, Amnesty International USA’s former Midwest Regional Director Doris Strieter, peace activist Kathy Kelly, and a number of Amnesty International members.”

    “The announcement of Cohen’s planned concert in Israel was swiftly met by letters from British, Israeli and Palestinian organizations and protests at his concerts in New York, Boston, Ottawa and Belfast, among other cities, calling on Cohen to respect the international call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.“

    “Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) commented, “We welcome Amnesty International’s withdrawal from this ill-conceived project which is clearly intended to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. By abandoning the Leonard Cohen project in Tel Aviv, Amnesty International has dealt Cohen and his public relations team a severe blow, denying them the cover of the organization’s prestige and respectability.”

  100. Edie:

    How can you claim that Amnesty International is not conducting a cultural boycott of Israel and Leonard Cohen?

    The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) press release

    visible here :
    http://palsolidarity.org/2009/08/8126

    states:

    “After reports in late July that Amnesty International would manage a fund from the proceeds of Leonard Cohen’s concert in Israel, groups in occupied Palestine and around the world mobilized to pressure Amnesty International not to participate in such a fund.”

    “Among those urging Amnesty International to boycott involvement with the Cohen concert are former Amnesty International USA board member Prof. Naseer Aruri, Amnesty International USA’s former Midwest Regional Director Doris Strieter, peace activist Kathy Kelly, and a number of Amnesty International members.”

    “The announcement of Cohen’s planned concert in Israel was swiftly met by letters from British, Israeli and Palestinian organizations and protests at his concerts in New York, Boston, Ottawa and Belfast, among other cities, calling on Cohen to respect the international call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.“

    “Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) commented, “We welcome Amnesty International’s withdrawal from this ill-conceived project which is clearly intended to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. By abandoning the Leonard Cohen project in Tel Aviv, Amnesty International has dealt Cohen and his public relations team a severe blow, denying them the cover of the organization’s prestige and respectability.”

  101. Mate you need to get rid of that spammer. It is just another of the usual suspects, astroturfing and probably got here via megaphone. It babbles a load of stock propaganda and fills a lot of space.

  102. If, as Herzl himself said, Israel was built on stolen land,how can one speak of the legitimacy of that 'State' ?
    Of course, Israel is not the only State to have been erected on stolen land;but surely something should be done, to say the least,in favour of those who have been kicked away from their homes.

  103. September 14, 2009 at 4:27 PM

    Toronto, On…
    Natalie Portman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jerry Seinfeld, Darren Starr, Jason Alexander, Lenny Kravitz, Lisa Kudrow, Canadians Robert Lantos, Ivan Reitman, David Cronenberg, Moses Znaimer, Patricia Rozema are among the respected film professionals who have today endorsed the following statement as a response to the group that opposes the Toronto International Film Festival’s spotlight on Tel Aviv.

    “We don’t need another blacklist.

    We applaud the Toronto International Film Festival for including the Israeli film community in the Festival’s City to City program. The visiting filmmakers represent a dynamic national cinema, the best of Israel’s open, uncensored, artistic expression. Anyone who has actually seen recent Israeli cinema, movies that are political and personal, comic and tragic, often critical, knows they are in no way a propaganda arm for any government policy. Blacklisting them only stifles the exchange of cultural knowledge that artists should be the first to defend and protect. Those who refuse to see these films for themselves or prevent them from being seen by others are violating a cherished right shared by Canada and all democratic countries.”

  104. Filmmakers and writers seek to censor Israeli film

    by Alan M. Dershowitz

    A group of hard-Left filmmakers and writers from around the world have been using their celebrity to try to coerce the Toronto International Film Festival into banning Israeli films.

    Their petition, which is filled with misstatement of facts and rewriting of history, describes Israel as “an apartheid regime.”

    It focuses not so much on Israel’s occupation of the West Bank since 1967, but rather on Israel’s very existence since 1948. It characterizes Tel Aviv, a city built by the sweat of Jews largely on barren coastal land, as illegitimate.

    It never mentions the fact that the Palestinians were offered and rejected statehood in 1938, 1948, 1967 and 2000-2001. It fails to mention that when Israel ended its occupation of Gaza, the result was rockets being fired at Israeli schoolchildren and other civilians.

    They claim that the inspiration for their censorship effort includes “former President Jimmy Carter,” who they say has characterized Israel as an “apartheid regime.” Jimmy Carter has said many nasty things about Israel, but he has expressly disclaimed any allegation that the Israeli regime itself is apartheid.

    He acknowledges that Israel is a multicultural democracy in which Arabs vote, serve in the Knesset, serve on the Supreme Court and teach in Israeli universities. Many even volunteer to serve in the Israeli Army. His use – misuse in my view – of the word “apartheid” was limited to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

  105. rabbit
    I posted this link earlier.
    http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2

    This article describes the philosophy of Nizzar Rayyan, who was killed in January in the Gaza War. He was the most senior Hamas leader killed in the war, and was the chief liaison between the spiritual leadership and military wing of Hamas.

    "There is no chance, said Nizzar Rayyan, that true Islam would ever allow a Jewish state to survive in the Muslim Middle East. “Israel is an impossibility. It is an offense against God.”

    rabbit: Tell me, what is your opinion? Can there ever be peace between Israel and Hamas, given that Hamas believes Israel's very existence offends God ?

  106. Filmmakers and writers seek to censor Israeli film ( continued )

    by Alan M. Dershowitz

    As Rhoda Kadalie and Julia Bertelsmann, two black South African women whose families were active in the anti-apartheid movement, wrote recently:

    Israel is not an apartheid state … Arab citizens of Israel can vote and serve in the Knesset; black South Africans could not vote until 1994. There are no laws in Israel that discriminate against Arab citizens or separate them from Jews. …South Africa had a job reservation policy for white people; Israel has adopted pro-Arab affirmative action measures in some sectors. Israeli schools, universities and hospitals make no distinction between Jews and Arabs. An Arab citizen who brings a case before an Israeli court will have that case decided on the basis of merit, not ethnicity. This was never the case for blacks under apartheid.”

    Kadalie and Bertelsmann are critical of Israel’s policies in the occupied territories, but add:

    “Racism and discrimination do not form the rationale for Israel’s policies and actions … In the West Bank, measures such as the ugly security barrier have been used to prevent suicide bombings and attacks on civilians, not to enforce any racist ideology. Without the ongoing conflict and the tendency of Palestinian leaders to resort to violence, these would not exist.”

    At a recent concert by Daniel Berenboim and an orchestra composed of Israelis and Palestinians held at the Young Men’s Christian Association in Jerusalem, I sat next to an Israeli Arab who was Israel’s minister of culture. This is a cabinet position. The audience, too, was a mixture of Israelis and Palestinians, many from the West Bank. Hardly a feature of apartheid!

    The ill-informed signers of the censorship petition ignore these realities, and in wrongly exploiting the apartheid analogy, they have devalued the anti-apartheid struggle itself.

    According to Congressman John Conyers, who helped found the Congressional Black Caucus, applying the word apartheid to Israel belittles real racism and apartheid; the word “does not serve the cause of peace, and the use of it against the Jewish people in particular, who have been victims of the worst kind of discrimination, discrimination resulting in death, is offensive and wrong.”

    Instead of submitting their own film or writings into the marketplace of ideas, the censors seek to close down this marketplace to Israel. What are they afraid of? Why won’t they compete in the open marketplace of ideas and try to influence public opinion in a manner consistent with freedom of speech, rather than employing the age-old weapon of tyrants, namely censorship.

    The reason is clear. They know they would lose. That is why they seek to close it to views different than theirs. “Speech for me but not for thee!,” is the age-old mantra of censors.

    Who are these censors? They consist mostly of obscure “activists” who nobody has ever heard of, but they also include Jane Fonda, who famously supported the Viet Cong and refused to condemn the Cambodian genocide. Other signatories, such as Danny Glover, Alice Walker and David Byrne are way out of their league when it comes to knowledge of the Middle East. They should know better than to be demanding censorship relating to a country about which they know so little.

    Moreover, I do not recall their names on petitions condemning – or calling for censorship of – such truly repressive regimes as Iran, Cuba, China, Zimbabwe, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other nations that discriminate against women, gays, dissidents, religious minorities and others.

    Imagine how the hard Left would react if anyone tried to censor or boycott these writers and actors! They would cry “McCarthyism.” Yet McCarthyism from the hard left is as dangerous to liberty as McCarthyism from the hard right.

  107. It’s revolting to watch Canadian jews who are always at the forefront bleating about the inalienable values of unfettered pluralism, coyly hoist the rag of the israeli regime ” for and by the supremacy of the jewish population.”

    The Toronto Star of David is virulently antiPalestinian ( you can see the same, stale dishonest rhetoric on this very board) and its circulation capacity is taking on water faster than the USS Liberty.

    Good thing.

    Good riddance.

  108. Pingback: Film makers, Actors, and Activists Protest Toronto Film Fest For Tel Aviv Spotlight | Human Rights Now | grooveTEK.net | Montreal « grooveTEK.net : Montreal

  109. rabbit
    I posted this link earlier.
    http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2

    This article describes the philosophy of Nizzar Rayyan, who was killed in January in the Gaza War. He was the most senior Hamas leader killed in the war, and was the chief liaison between the spiritual leadership and military wing of Hamas.

    "There is no chance, said Nizzar Rayyan, that true Islam would ever allow a Jewish state to survive in the Muslim Middle East. “Israel is an impossibility. It is an offense against God.”

    rabbit: Tell me, what is your opinion? Can there ever be peace between Israel and Hamas, given that Hamas believes Israel's very existence offends God ?

  110. rabbit
    I posted this link earlier.
    http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2

    This article describes the philosophy of Nizzar Rayyan, who was killed in January in the Gaza War. He was the most senior Hamas leader killed in the war, and was the chief liaison between the spiritual leadership and military wing of Hamas.

    "There is no chance, said Nizzar Rayyan, that true Islam would ever allow a Jewish state to survive in the Muslim Middle East. “Israel is an impossibility. It is an offense against God.”

    rabbit: Tell me, what is your opinion? Can there ever be peace between Israel and Hamas, given that Hamas believes Israel's very existence offends God ?

  111. First off, to those that defend Israel’s atrocities, a few homemade rocket bombs and a few suicide bombers DOES NOT justify Israels use of White Phosphorus tanks, jets and missiles on Palestinian civilians. Also i challenge any Non-Jew to research the Talmud and let it show just what the “innocent” and “righteous” jews think of Goyim

  112. The people who are trying to make this brouhaha about some notion of a "black list" for Tel Aviv film makers are just plain delusional, or, deliberately trying to obfuscate the point of the protest.

    A large number of people, perhaps a majority of the people on the planet, believe what they see. What they see is the nation of Israel behaving (for its entire life) like a deranged psychotic murderous lying freak.

    Everybody is pretty much intimidated by just how dangerously arrogant this psychopathic country has become over the years. You want to talk about a "black list?" The most strident and enduring black list is already in existence – those who don't "talk nice" about Israel. Everybody is intimidated by the psycho, so we all play nice. Except for those on "black lists."

    If you can't see how showcasing Tel Aviv is probably "uncool" given the recent slaughter of so many innocent little children and other defenseless canon fodder in Gaza… then you are probably a Zionist.

    It's not about the Tel Aviv filmmakers… put your films in the festival as individuals – no problem. Its about the PROGRAM. Its about Toronto being "owned" by Zionist interests who feel that they are safe propagating that interest here. Not everyone is a Zionist, indeed there are some who feel it is a very awful thing.

    One more round at Gaza, or anywhere for that matter, and you guys are finished. You are THAT close. WAKE UP and quit being so dense. That goes to Natalie Portman, Jason Alexander and all those other sycophants on the OTHER petition.

  113. Stephen and Herbert you are both grossly wrong in what you write.

    Not only Palestinians, but Hamas has indicated willingness to abide by the Arab peace plan, which is accepted by 99% of the world and which grants israel borders way beyond what they were entitled in the original document and leaves Palestinians with less than half what they were promised.

    The ONLY dissenters of that peace plan, are the Israel, their pet the USA and the last time my disgusting nation of Australia. Thus THESE three nations are at this time, the only thing blocking peace in the Middle East. To accuse the victims of Israeli aggression for being the only impediemnt to peace then becomes a case of extreme dishonesty and chutzpah.

    Palestine was in fact created at the SAME TIME and in the SAME declaration as israel was created. The claim that it was Jordan, is an israeli lie and is somewhat predicated on the necessity of the Arab armies in having to occupy some of the rapidly diminshing Palestine, when the Zionists went on their first rampage and sought to drive the Palestinians into the sea.

    Today Israel is illegally occupying large areas which have as much right to be termed Palestine in modern times, as Israel has to exist and histoprically several thousand years more right to exist. Palestine existed before the Hebrews breiefly occupied it and called it Israel and Palestine existed long after that short lived state was shut down by the Romans. Any attempt to deligitimise Palestine has the effect of doing the same for Israel, because BOTH nations were brought into being on the same document. Today it is Israel who is in breach of the original resolution and of numerous international laws.

    Deceitfully claiming Israel is under any sort of threat, is farcical these days and nobody except braindead propaganda containers actually believes there is any element of defense involved in the endless Israeli military actions. Calling people anti-Semites for criticising israel is also worn out, nobodfy cares anymore. The mask has fallen from your demon faces and it seems silly for you to keep pretending you are the good guys.

    You are demons and it really isn’t possible to put this truth back in the box anymore.

  114. Edie:

    How can you claim that Amnesty International is not conducting a cultural boycott of Israel and Leonard Cohen?

    The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) press release

    visible here :

    http://palsolidarity.org/2009/08/8126

    states:

    “After reports in late July that Amnesty International would manage a fund from the proceeds of Leonard Cohen’s concert in Israel, groups in occupied Palestine and around the world mobilized to pressure Amnesty International not to participate in such a fund.”

    “Among those urging Amnesty International to boycott involvement with the Cohen concert are former Amnesty International USA board member Prof. Naseer Aruri, Amnesty International USA’s former Midwest Regional Director Doris Strieter, peace activist Kathy Kelly, and a number of Amnesty International members.”

    “The announcement of Cohen’s planned concert in Israel was swiftly met by letters from British, Israeli and Palestinian organizations and protests at his concerts in New York, Boston, Ottawa and Belfast, among other cities, calling on Cohen to respect the international call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.“

    “Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) commented, “We welcome Amnesty International’s withdrawal from this ill-conceived project which is clearly intended to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and human rights. By abandoning the Leonard Cohen project in Tel Aviv, Amnesty International has dealt Cohen and his public relations team a severe blow, denying them the cover of the organization’s prestige and respectability.”

  115. Mate you need to get rid of that spammer. It is just another of the usual suspects, astroturfing and probably got here via megaphone. It babbles a load of stock propaganda and fills a lot of space.

  116. If, as Herzl himself said, Israel was built on stolen land,how can one speak of the legitimacy of that ‘State’ ?
    Of course, Israel is not the only State to have been erected on stolen land;but surely something should be done, to say the least,in favour of those who have been kicked away from their homes.

  117. rabbit
    I posted this link earlier.

    http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/01/nizar_rayyan_of_hamas_on_gods.php

    This article describes the philosophy of Nizzar Rayyan, who was killed in January in the Gaza War. He was the most senior Hamas leader killed in the war, and was the chief liaison between the spiritual leadership and military wing of Hamas.

    “There is no chance, said Nizzar Rayyan, that true Islam would ever allow a Jewish state to survive in the Muslim Middle East. “Israel is an impossibility. It is an offense against God.”

    rabbit: Tell me, what is your opinion? Can there ever be peace between Israel and Hamas, given that Hamas believes Israel’s very existence offends God ?

  118. The people who are trying to make this brouhaha about some notion of a “black list” for Tel Aviv film makers are just plain delusional, or, deliberately trying to obfuscate the point of the protest.

    A large number of people, perhaps a majority of the people on the planet, believe what they see. What they see is the nation of Israel behaving (for its entire life) like a deranged psychotic murderous lying freak.

    Everybody is pretty much intimidated by just how dangerously arrogant this psychopathic country has become over the years. You want to talk about a “black list?” The most strident and enduring black list is already in existence – those who don’t “talk nice” about Israel. Everybody is intimidated by the psycho, so we all play nice. Except for those on “black lists.”

    If you can’t see how showcasing Tel Aviv is probably “uncool” given the recent slaughter of so many innocent little children and other defenseless canon fodder in Gaza… then you are probably a Zionist.

    It’s not about the Tel Aviv filmmakers… put your films in the festival as individuals – no problem. Its about the PROGRAM. Its about Toronto being “owned” by Zionist interests who feel that they are safe propagating that interest here. Not everyone is a Zionist, indeed there are some who feel it is a very awful thing.

    One more round at Gaza, or anywhere for that matter, and you guys are finished. You are THAT close. WAKE UP and quit being so dense. That goes to Natalie Portman, Jason Alexander and all those other sycophants on the OTHER petition.

  119. empty protest means nothing.

    everything has to be action. signs, placards and public denouncement are infinitely more powerful than signing a petition. no one cares about a petition that can't be sent anywhere.

    It would be great if Gaza stopped producing terrorists and launching rockets into Israel and sending suicide bombers into their towns and cities to kill anyone in proximity.

    Jews from the region prior to the formation of Israel are also palestinians by the way.

    Always interesting to watch the outrage of ignorant people on this topic though.
    I wonder if many people can remember beyond what happened 2 weeks ago or last year.

    Israel should just sit there and take crap from the arab world indefinitely?
    That's nonsense. If someone was constantly attacking me, I would crush them too. No complaints about American films? I mean they have 2 armies occupying other sovereign nations right now too.

    nothing? bueller?

    hypocrites.

  120. I see the Israel firsters are at it again with the typical teargas method of distraction(blind and disperse).
    Israel proper has never been attacked within its pre 1967 borders by an Arab state.
    Ahmadinajad never threatened to wipe Isreal off the map(he was quoting Ayatollah Khomeni who predicted *the Zionist state that occupies Jerusalem would disappear from history like the Soviet Union or Apartheid South Africa." Israel is the only developed country with no constitution,no internationally recognized borders,2nd strike nuclear capability and would not exist for 15 minutes without the American taxpayer and the compliance of fearful duped politcal Janissaries.What would happen if the world treated Israel like any other country instead of a beggar on horseback?

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  122. "Jane Fonda apologises over Toronto petition"

    It would appear that Ms. Fonda's strategy is to make every thinking person on the planet throw up.

  123. The truth is that Israel is an apartheid racially segregated state. It is also interesting to note that most so called Israelis ancestors are Ashkanazis from Khazaria modern day Georgia Ossetia. Your people converted to Judaism many centuries ago so how does the land of Israel come to belong to Ashkanazis?

  124. The orthodox Jewish group that says Israel is an offense against God, the Neturi Karta, is not mainstream but represents about one thousandth of one percent of the Jews in the world. I think the whole group has something like 10 or 20 members worldwide total. They also think, by the way, that they are the only real Jews in the world and all other Jews on earth except for the ones in their tiny little cult are going to burn in hell, so not a big suprise that no other Jews care what they say or listen to them. The only people who do care are the Palestinian groups who pay these crazy Neturi Karta people in thier 17th century fur hats to show up at rallies and denounce Israel.

    On the other hand, the views of Nizzar Rayyan, that it is literately true that according to the Koran Jews were turned by God into "pigs and monkeys", and that other than short strategic truces to rebuild strength there will never till the end of time be peace until Israel is removed totally from the Muslim middle east as its existence in any form, 1967 borders or any other borders is a violation of Gods will, is the mainstream view of the vast majority of the Hamas spiritual leadership, not the view of a tiny minority of a minority like the Neturi Karta is in Judaism.
    http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2

    re: "Got that, you zio filth?"
    Edie: why are you not enforcing your own terms of service on this board?

    This board is Amnesty property and you have a terms of service statement banning these kinds of comments.

    People can say they hate Israel, say Israel does not has the right to exist etc. which is all free speech that I 100% support their right to say obviously, but personal insults like "zio-filth" are a clear terms of service violation.

    Please remove these hateful attack posts from the Amnesty International board.

  125. Judo –

    Just to clarify once again, Amnesty International is not conducting a boycott of Leonard Cohen. Our public statement on the incident can be found at http://www.amnestyusa.org/all-countries/israel/oc

    As I stated before, media accounts were inaccurate in many ways and some of the articles you reference are in response to that inaccurate information. Repetition does not make truth.

    Simply put, there was an agreement up front between AIUSA and Leonard Cohen's people that there was certain criteria that had to be met for AI to be involved and this criteria was not met, thus AI could no longer be involved in the project.

  126. Edie: I thank you for your response on the subject of the boycott of Leonard Cohen by Amnesty International

    The Palestinian Boycott Movement released a news release in which it claims that you only canceled the pre existing agreement you had with Cohen to take his money after it placed you under worldwide organized pressure to drop out of the concert. The Palestinians provide a detailed description of the mass pressure AI was put under to boycott Cohen and coincidently you did in deed in the end turn down an extremely generous donation from Leonard Cohen after first agreeing to take it, a move hailed by the Palestinian boycott movement as a huge victory for its cause.

    You can read it here: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/08/8126

    Since Amnesty categoricaly denies it is boycotting Israel and Cohen because he preforms there, and did not turn down a million dollar donation offer from the veteran human rights activist because pressure from Palsetinians to boycott Israel, so maybe it is still not to late for you to find some compromise that will enable you accept the million dollar donation from Cohen ? Can something be still be worked out ?

    The concert is not for another month.

  127. If the people want to protest let them protest. Whats the problem now? I mean why should anyone demand another persons attention. The Actors like Glover and Fonda don't want to attend, they don't have too. And they have the right to tell you why they don't want to attend.

    I would rather have some one tell me, "hey Harris I don't want to come to your party because its being held on Navajo buriel grounds," then some one say, "sorry I have a headache."

    Once I grew up and became a adult and served in the military, I realized I can't cry, stamp my feet and have fainting spells in order to compalin about no one showing up at my party.

  128. The orthodox Jewish group that says Israel is an offense against God, the Neturi Karta, is not mainstream but represents about one thousandth of one percent of the Jews in the world. I think the whole group has something like 10 or 20 members worldwide total. They also think, by the way, that they are the only real Jews in the world and all other Jews on earth except for the ones in their tiny little cult are going to burn in hell, so not a big suprise that no other Jews care what they say or listen to them. The only people who do care are the Palestinian groups who pay these crazy Neturi Karta people in thier 17th century fur hats to show up at rallies and denounce Israel.

    On the other hand, the views of Nizzar Rayyan, that it is literately true that according to the Koran Jews were turned by God into "pigs and monkeys", and that other than short strategic truces to rebuild strength there will never till the end of time be peace until Israel is removed totally from the Muslim middle east as its existence in any form, 1967 borders or any other borders is a violation of Gods will, is the mainstream view of the vast majority of the Hamas spiritual leadership, not the view of a tiny minority of a minority like the Neturi Karta is in Judaism.
    http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2

    re: "Got that, you zio filth?"
    Edie: why are you not enforcing your own terms of service on this board?

    This board is Amnesty property and you have a terms of service statement banning these kinds of comments.

    People can say they hate Israel, say Israel does not has the right to exist etc. which is all free speech that I 100% support their right to say obviously, but personal insults like "zio-filth" are a clear terms of service violation.

    Please remove these hateful attack posts from the Amnesty International board.

  129. The orthodox Jewish group that says Israel is an offense against God, the Neturi Karta, is not mainstream but represents about one thousandth of one percent of the Jews in the world. I think the whole group has something like 10 or 20 members worldwide total. They also think, by the way, that they are the only real Jews in the world and all other Jews on earth except for the ones in their tiny little cult are going to burn in hell, so not a big suprise that no other Jews care what they say or listen to them. The only people who do care are the Palestinian groups who pay these crazy Neturi Karta people in thier 17th century fur hats to show up at rallies and denounce Israel.

    On the other hand, the views of Nizzar Rayyan, that it is literately true that according to the Koran Jews were turned by God into "pigs and monkeys", and that other than short strategic truces to rebuild strength there will never till the end of time be peace until Israel is removed totally from the Muslim middle east as its existence in any form, 1967 borders or any other borders is a violation of Gods will, is the mainstream view of the vast majority of the Hamas spiritual leadership, not the view of a tiny minority of a minority like the Neturi Karta is in Judaism.
    http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2

    re: "Got that, you zio filth?"
    Edie: why are you not enforcing your own terms of service on this board?

    This board is Amnesty property and you have a terms of service statement banning these kinds of comments.

    People can say they hate Israel, say Israel does not has the right to exist etc. which is all free speech that I 100% support their right to say obviously, but personal insults like "zio-filth" are a clear terms of service violation.

    Please remove these hateful attack posts from the Amnesty International board.

  130. Re: John Smith
    "you guys are finished. You are THAT close. WAKE UP and quit being so dense. That goes to Natalie Portman, Jason Alexander and all those other sycophants on the OTHER petition."

    Edie: this sounds like a threat against these people.

    What about the "terms of service" for this blog ?

  131. Judo –

    Just to clarify once again, Amnesty International is not conducting a boycott of Leonard Cohen. Our public statement on the incident can be found at http://www.amnestyusa.org/all-countries/israel/oc

    As I stated before, media accounts were inaccurate in many ways and some of the articles you reference are in response to that inaccurate information. Repetition does not make truth.

    Simply put, there was an agreement up front between AIUSA and Leonard Cohen's people that there was certain criteria that had to be met for AI to be involved and this criteria was not met, thus AI could no longer be involved in the project.

  132. Judo –

    Just to clarify once again, Amnesty International is not conducting a boycott of Leonard Cohen. Our public statement on the incident can be found at http://www.amnestyusa.org/all-countries/israel/oc

    As I stated before, media accounts were inaccurate in many ways and some of the articles you reference are in response to that inaccurate information. Repetition does not make truth.

    Simply put, there was an agreement up front between AIUSA and Leonard Cohen's people that there was certain criteria that had to be met for AI to be involved and this criteria was not met, thus AI could no longer be involved in the project.

  133. re: Stephanus:
    "Israel proper has never been attacked within its pre 1967 borders by an Arab state."

    5 Arab armies invaded into the pre 1967 borders in 1948 after Israel accepted the partition plan and asked the Arabs to live with them in peace.

    In the past 60 years there have been 10 of thousands of cross border attacks infiltrating over the pre 1967 border into Israel killing many thousands of unarmed Israeli civilians.

    In the first gulf war of 1991 Israel was in an unprovoked attack sprayed daily with Scud missles randomly fired against its civilians from Iraq that all landed inside the 1967 borders.

    Years after Israel withdrew from every last centimeter of Lebanese territory as certified by the UN, during the 2nd Lebanon war of 2006 Hezbolla randomly fired onto Israeli civilians living inside the pre 1967 borders more than 5000 long range heavy warhead Katusha rockets.

    Since Israel pulled out every single last settler and soldier from Gaza 3 years ago, more than 10,000 mortars and Qassam rockets were fired from Gaza into the pre-1967 borders onto the civilians in the area of Sderot, causing more than 25 percent of the Israeli civilians in that area to become reffugees forced from their homes.

    So I think you are wrong about Israel not being attacked inside the 1967 borders

  134. empty protest means nothing.

    everything has to be action. signs, placards and public denouncement are infinitely more powerful than signing a petition. no one cares about a petition that can’t be sent anywhere.

    It would be great if Gaza stopped producing terrorists and launching rockets into Israel and sending suicide bombers into their towns and cities to kill anyone in proximity.

    Jews from the region prior to the formation of Israel are also palestinians by the way.

    Always interesting to watch the outrage of ignorant people on this topic though.
    I wonder if many people can remember beyond what happened 2 weeks ago or last year.

    Israel should just sit there and take crap from the arab world indefinitely?
    That’s nonsense. If someone was constantly attacking me, I would crush them too. No complaints about American films? I mean they have 2 armies occupying other sovereign nations right now too.

    nothing? bueller?

    hypocrites.

  135. Edie: I thank you for your response on the subject of the boycott of Leonard Cohen by Amnesty International

    The Palestinian Boycott Movement released a news release in which it claims that you only canceled the pre existing agreement you had with Cohen to take his money after it placed you under worldwide organized pressure to drop out of the concert. The Palestinians provide a detailed description of the mass pressure AI was put under to boycott Cohen and coincidently you did in deed in the end turn down an extremely generous donation from Leonard Cohen after first agreeing to take it, a move hailed by the Palestinian boycott movement as a huge victory for its cause.

    You can read it here: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/08/8126

    Since Amnesty categoricaly denies it is boycotting Israel and Cohen because he preforms there, and did not turn down a million dollar donation offer from the veteran human rights activist because pressure from Palsetinians to boycott Israel, so maybe it is still not to late for you to find some compromise that will enable you accept the million dollar donation from Cohen ? Can something be still be worked out ?

    The concert is not for another month.

  136. Edie: I thank you for your response on the subject of the boycott of Leonard Cohen by Amnesty International

    The Palestinian Boycott Movement released a news release in which it claims that you only canceled the pre existing agreement you had with Cohen to take his money after it placed you under worldwide organized pressure to drop out of the concert. The Palestinians provide a detailed description of the mass pressure AI was put under to boycott Cohen and coincidently you did in deed in the end turn down an extremely generous donation from Leonard Cohen after first agreeing to take it, a move hailed by the Palestinian boycott movement as a huge victory for its cause.

    You can read it here: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/08/8126

    Since Amnesty categoricaly denies it is boycotting Israel and Cohen because he preforms there, and did not turn down a million dollar donation offer from the veteran human rights activist because pressure from Palsetinians to boycott Israel, so maybe it is still not to late for you to find some compromise that will enable you accept the million dollar donation from Cohen ? Can something be still be worked out ?

    The concert is not for another month.

  137. I see the Israel firsters are at it again with the typical teargas method of distraction(blind and disperse).
    Israel proper has never been attacked within its pre 1967 borders by an Arab state.
    Ahmadinajad never threatened to wipe Isreal off the map(he was quoting Ayatollah Khomeni who predicted *the Zionist state that occupies Jerusalem would disappear from history like the Soviet Union or Apartheid South Africa.” Israel is the only developed country with no constitution,no internationally recognized borders,2nd strike nuclear capability and would not exist for 15 minutes without the American taxpayer and the compliance of fearful duped politcal Janissaries.What would happen if the world treated Israel like any other country instead of a beggar on horseback?

  138. Pingback: The Progressive Mind » Film makers, Actors, and Activists Protest Toronto Film Fest For Tel Aviv Spotlight | Human Rights Now - Amnesty International USA Blog

  139. “Jane Fonda apologises over Toronto petition”

    It would appear that Ms. Fonda’s strategy is to make every thinking person on the planet throw up.

  140. The truth is that Israel is an apartheid racially segregated state. It is also interesting to note that most so called Israelis ancestors are Ashkanazis from Khazaria modern day Georgia Ossetia. Your people converted to Judaism many centuries ago so how does the land of Israel come to belong to Ashkanazis?

  141. Judo Nimh:regarding Israels war record see the following chronology.
    1947. European insurgents start a terrorist uprising with colourful names like the Stern Gang and the Irgun and proceed to, as Menaham Begin(who was quite proud of his moniker as the father of terrorism)blow up civilian infrastructure(the King David Hotel)murder UN peace negotiators(Count Folke- Bernadotte)and finally with the help of that great philanthropist Josef Stalin turn the military tide against an absolutley underarmed Palestinian force back ed by a fractious underarmed poorly led Arab clown army(with the exception of the British trained Jordanian contingent)After establishing this Zionist bridgehead the real fun started including,the Lavon affair,the invasion of Egypt in 1956 the attacking of the U.S.S Liberty in 1967 after a preemptive attack on the Egyptian Air Force(on the ground)
    The 1973 war was centered in the Sinai desert as Egypt and the Syrians(who lost the Golan) tried to regain what was under Israeli occupation since 1967.Then came the attack on Osirak, Iraq the attack on Lebanon in 1982(killing at least 18,000)Sabra,Shatilla etc.Only someone with pyschopathic arrogance can suspend the laws of physics and equate what Israel has done in 60 years as defending itself,as objective observors witness Israel,s greatest crime , murdering the truth (aletheiacide.)

  142. P.S. How the hell did Arab armies invade Israel,s(which didn,t yet exist)pre 1967 borders in 1948? Methinks your Megaphone cue card slipped.

  143. If the people want to protest let them protest. Whats the problem now? I mean why should anyone demand another persons attention. The Actors like Glover and Fonda don’t want to attend, they don’t have too. And they have the right to tell you why they don’t want to attend.

    I would rather have some one tell me, “hey Harris I don’t want to come to your party because its being held on Navajo buriel grounds,” then some one say, “sorry I have a headache.”

    Once I grew up and became a adult and served in the military, I realized I can’t cry, stamp my feet and have fainting spells in order to compalin about no one showing up at my party.

  144. The orthodox Jewish group that says Israel is an offense against God, the Neturi Karta, is not mainstream but represents about one thousandth of one percent of the Jews in the world. I think the whole group has something like 10 or 20 members worldwide total. They also think, by the way, that they are the only real Jews in the world and all other Jews on earth except for the ones in their tiny little cult are going to burn in hell, so not a big suprise that no other Jews care what they say or listen to them. The only people who do care are the Palestinian groups who pay these crazy Neturi Karta people in thier 17th century fur hats to show up at rallies and denounce Israel.

    On the other hand, the views of Nizzar Rayyan, that it is literately true that according to the Koran Jews were turned by God into “pigs and monkeys”, and that other than short strategic truces to rebuild strength there will never till the end of time be peace until Israel is removed totally from the Muslim middle east as its existence in any form, 1967 borders or any other borders is a violation of Gods will, is the mainstream view of the vast majority of the Hamas spiritual leadership, not the view of a tiny minority of a minority like the Neturi Karta is in Judaism.

    http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/01/nizar_rayyan_of_hamas_on_gods.php

    re: “Got that, you zio filth?”
    Edie: why are you not enforcing your own terms of service on this board?

    This board is Amnesty property and you have a terms of service statement banning these kinds of comments.

    People can say they hate Israel, say Israel does not has the right to exist etc. which is all free speech that I 100% support their right to say obviously, but personal insults like “zio-filth” are a clear terms of service violation.

    Please remove these hateful attack posts from the Amnesty International board.

  145. Re: John Smith
    “you guys are finished. You are THAT close. WAKE UP and quit being so dense. That goes to Natalie Portman, Jason Alexander and all those other sycophants on the OTHER petition.”

    Edie: this sounds like a threat against these people.

    What about the “terms of service” for this blog ?

  146. Judo -

    Just to clarify once again, Amnesty International is not conducting a boycott of Leonard Cohen. Our public statement on the incident can be found at http://www.amnestyusa.org/all-countries/israel/occupied-palestinian-territories/amnesty-international-and-the-leonard-cohen-fund-for-peace/page.do?id=1011689

    As I stated before, media accounts were inaccurate in many ways and some of the articles you reference are in response to that inaccurate information. Repetition does not make truth.

    Simply put, there was an agreement up front between AIUSA and Leonard Cohen’s people that there was certain criteria that had to be met for AI to be involved and this criteria was not met, thus AI could no longer be involved in the project.

  147. re: Stephanus:
    “Israel proper has never been attacked within its pre 1967 borders by an Arab state.”

    5 Arab armies invaded into the pre 1967 borders in 1948 after Israel accepted the partition plan and asked the Arabs to live with them in peace.

    In the past 60 years there have been 10 of thousands of cross border attacks infiltrating over the pre 1967 border into Israel killing many thousands of unarmed Israeli civilians.

    In the first gulf war of 1991 Israel was in an unprovoked attack sprayed daily with Scud missles randomly fired against its civilians from Iraq that all landed inside the 1967 borders.

    Years after Israel withdrew from every last centimeter of Lebanese territory as certified by the UN, during the 2nd Lebanon war of 2006 Hezbolla randomly fired onto Israeli civilians living inside the pre 1967 borders more than 5000 long range heavy warhead Katusha rockets.

    Since Israel pulled out every single last settler and soldier from Gaza 3 years ago, more than 10,000 mortars and Qassam rockets were fired from Gaza into the pre-1967 borders onto the civilians in the area of Sderot, causing more than 25 percent of the Israeli civilians in that area to become reffugees forced from their homes.

    So I think you are wrong about Israel not being attacked inside the 1967 borders

  148. Edie: I thank you for your response on the subject of the boycott of Leonard Cohen by Amnesty International

    The Palestinian Boycott Movement released a news release in which it claims that you only canceled the pre existing agreement you had with Cohen to take his money after it placed you under worldwide organized pressure to drop out of the concert. The Palestinians provide a detailed description of the mass pressure AI was put under to boycott Cohen and coincidently you did in deed in the end turn down an extremely generous donation from Leonard Cohen after first agreeing to take it, a move hailed by the Palestinian boycott movement as a huge victory for its cause.

    You can read it here: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/08/8126

    Since Amnesty categoricaly denies it is boycotting Israel and Cohen because he preforms there, and did not turn down a million dollar donation offer from the veteran human rights activist because pressure from Palsetinians to boycott Israel, so maybe it is still not to late for you to find some compromise that will enable you accept the million dollar donation from Cohen ? Can something be still be worked out ?

    The concert is not for another month.

  149. Judo Nimh:regarding Israels war record see the following chronology.
    1947. European insurgents start a terrorist uprising with colourful names like the Stern Gang and the Irgun and proceed to, as Menaham Begin(who was quite proud of his moniker as the father of terrorism)blow up civilian infrastructure(the King David Hotel)murder UN peace negotiators(Count Folke- Bernadotte)and finally with the help of that great philanthropist Josef Stalin turn the military tide against an absolutley underarmed Palestinian force back ed by a fractious underarmed poorly led Arab clown army(with the exception of the British trained Jordanian contingent)After establishing this Zionist bridgehead the real fun started including,the Lavon affair,the invasion of Egypt in 1956 the attacking of the U.S.S Liberty in 1967 after a preemptive attack on the Egyptian Air Force(on the ground)
    The 1973 war was centered in the Sinai desert as Egypt and the Syrians(who lost the Golan) tried to regain what was under Israeli occupation since 1967.Then came the attack on Osirak, Iraq the attack on Lebanon in 1982(killing at least 18,000)Sabra,Shatilla etc.Only someone with pyschopathic arrogance can suspend the laws of physics and equate what Israel has done in 60 years as defending itself,as objective observors witness Israel,s greatest crime , murdering the truth (aletheiacide.)

  150. P.S. How the hell did Arab armies invade Israel,s(which didn,t yet exist)pre 1967 borders in 1948? Methinks your Megaphone cue card slipped.

  151. People can say they hate Israel, say Israel does not has the right to exist etc.

    I even will go so far to say it is just possible for a reasonable person to hold such views and not necessarily be "a racist anti-Semite", (shock, gasp !).

    Racists often do hold these kinds of views, but the views themselves are not necessarily racist views and not all of those who hold them are racist.

    For example, I myself deeply believe that the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are totality illegal racist settler entities and I myself deny these four entities have any right to exist either.

    I mean really, do any of you actually think it was legal for the British Army to just show up out of the blue in North America and Australia and New Zealand , to suddenly declare canceled all the native laws and land rights and steal two entire continents? I mean come on, all of it is stolen till today, every square inch of these continents, and the passage of 400 years or a million years for that matter won't change this fact one iota. So therefore the governments of Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand are completely illegal null and void entities, as are every law any of these governments have ever passed. I seriously believe the only way to ever have just peace is for all non natives to just leave these lands and hand them back to the rightful owners. Of course the only problem with this is that in the histories of the indigenous peoples we know they themselves, the Dene, the Inuit, the Cree, the Iroquios, the Maoris, the Aboriginals etc. were hundreds of years ago constantly warring amongst themselves and stealing land from one another too, so after we first get rid of the settlers from Europe, Africa, and Asia then we will have to sort that inter-indigenous stealing mess out also, but first things first …..

    Anyways, all this is all free speech and I do 100% support their right to say these things obviously.

    But personal insults and threats are an "AIUSA terms of use" violation for this site.

  152. Okay, lets look at Gaza.

    References:
    United Nations Secretariat, Department of Economic and Social Affairs • Population Division http://www.un.org/esa/population/unpop.htm

    and the major report on infant and child mortality from UNICEF last week http://www.unicef.org/media/media_51087.html

    65 counties on earth have an under 5 year old child mortality rates above 40 per 1000.

    For sub-Saharan Africa 167 children per 1000 in will die before the age of 5 years.

    In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country where 1/3rd of all the deaths of children under 5 anywhere on earth occur, 220 children under 5 die per 1000.

    But Gaza and the West Bank have a rate of under 5 year old child mortality rates of 18 per 1000, virtually the lowest rate of child mortality in the entire 3rd world, better even than most other Arab counties.

    Not to say life is great in Gaza, it isn't, but these facts from the UN really show the conflict in context.

    Remember, Palestinians and Israelis are not the only ones who suffer on this earth, and maybe some of your energy and drive to fix and change things for the better could be spent helping others who are in greater need.

  153. http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2009/09/tiff_8_th

    TIFF : A destructive protest

    By Roger Ebert, host of Ebert and Roper at the Movies

    The tumult continues here about the decision to spotlight Tel Aviv in the City-to-City sidebar program of the Toronto Film Festival. The protesters say the festival is thereby recognizing the "apartheid regime" of Israel. The controversy shows no sign of abating, and indeed on Tuesday it was still big news in the Toronto newspapers, with the Star's front page featuring lineups of those opposing the TIFF decision (including Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Viggo Mortenson, Julie Christie and Danny Glover) and those supporting it (including Jerry Seinfeld, David Cronenberg, Sasha Baron Cohen, Lenny Kravitz, Lisa Kudrow and Natalie Portman).

    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.

    True artists are without a country. They speak for themselves. They often act as the voice of conscience in their nations. Consider Solzhenitsyn in Russia, Nadine Gordimer in South Africa, Andrez Wajda in Polace, the Czech New Wave, the Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers, the independent Iranian directors. They open discussion, broaden minds, exert a persistent pressure for change. When you disagree with a nation's policies, they are the last people you want to punish.

    I've seen a great many films in the last few years by directors both Israeli and Palestinian. Some of them dealt directly with issues of terrorism. I can't think of a single one that wasn't concerned primarily with the people in their stories. Not one that was virulently anti-Israeli or anti-Palestinian. Perhaps I missed such films. The impression I've gained is that ordinary people on both sides can live with one another, trade with one another, and love one another. These films argue for the middle, not the extremes. When they've dealt with terrorism, they've deplored it. The films seek to encourage a dialogue.

    I give you the wonderful film "The Band's Visit," a 2007 film by the Israeli director Eran Kolirin. I saw it here at Toronto. It involves the Alexandria (Egypt) Ceremonial Police Orchestra, which has been invited to perform a concert at an Arab Cultural Center, but takes the wrong bus and finds itself stranded overnight in a small Israeli desert town. Here the baffled locals do their best to accommodate them, and there is a touching late-night conversation between the band leader and a local woman who runs a cafe. They realize that at another time, in another place, they might have been soul mates. They never say this to each other, which is sort of perfect.

    This single film arguably did more to improve the situation than the entire boycott. Ironically, it was disqualified for Academy nomination in the Best Foreign Language category, because more than half the dialogue is in English — the only language the characters have in common. The woman was played by Ronit Elkabetz, who at the Israeli Film Academy Awards Ceremony told Kolirin, "You reminded us of a thing or two that we have already managed to forget. You showed us what would happen if we would stand before each other, Jews and Arabs and look each other in the eye."

    Did the TIFF boycotters spend very much time studying the films and directors they wanted to boycott? I doubt it. These were their targets:

    "Bena," by Niv Klainer, about a man trying to care for his schizophrenic son; "Big Dig," by the Nazi concentration camp survivor Ephraim Kishon, a Tati-style comedy about a madman with a jackhammer who distracts the city; "Big Eyes" (1974) by the Israeli film pioneer Uri Zohar, about a womanizing basketball coach; "The Bubble," by Eytan Fox, involving a troubled homosexual love affair between an Israeli and an Arab; ; "A History of Israeli Cinema," Parts 1 and 2," by Raphaël Nadjari; "Jaffa," by Keren Yedaya, a Romeo and Juliet story involving young Israeli-Arab couple who have known each other since childhood; "Kirot," by Danny Lerner, a suspense film involving two Tel Aviv women, one Ukranian, one Israeli; "Life According to Agfa," by Assi Dayan, a cross-section of people meeting in a raffish bar; and "Phobidilia," by Yoav and Doron Paz, about a young man who fears to ever leave his home.

    These are the films the protesters don't want to be shown. These films, by these directors — because they live in a country whose policies the protesters disagree with.

    Try putting the shoe on the other foot. What if, this time next year, TIFF's City-to-City program featured new films from Los Angeles? And these films starred or were directed by Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Viggo Mortenson, Julie Christie and Danny Glover?

    Surely there would be protests against this decision. Consider the U.S. record of militarism. Our economic mistreatment of smaller economies. Our deplorable record on environmental pollution. Our many states with death penalties — one of them, Texas, executing more people than the rest of the free world combined. Since Belafonte, Fonda, Mortenson, Christie and Klein live in America, surely they are culpable? And surely they should be boycotted? And since the U.S. is the most active supporter of Israel in the world, surely they would protest against themselves?

    Of course not. They would expect to be judged as individuals, as artists, not simply as Americans. Their protest at TIFF is opportunistic, knee-jerk and careless. It allows its participants, themselves artists, to grandstand at a cost to other artists.

    Think again of these names, which are the names of specific people: Niv Klainer, Ephraim Kishon, Uri Zohar, Eytan Fox, Raphaël Nadjari, Keren Yedaya, Danny Lerner, Assi Dayan, and Yoav and Doron Paz.

    They are part of the solution. They are not part of the problem.

  154. Wait, what?

    We're all going to Sea World?

    Down deep I know I'm going to Sea World. Does that mean the whole world is going there too?

    Jeeze… gonna' be quite a crowd.

    ps: everyone, take it down a notch – okay? Mr. Israel, sometimes Israel is wrong and it's people, fortunately, have the strength to admit that. Mr. Anti-Israel, huffing & puffing like that is only going to make you hysterical. Calm down, stop the hate-speech and try to have a dialogue.

  155. Okay, lets look at Gaza.

    References:
    United Nations Secretariat, Department of Economic and Social Affairs • Population Division http://www.un.org/esa/population/unpop.htm

    and the major report on infant and child mortality from UNICEF last week http://www.unicef.org/media/media_51087.html

    65 counties on earth have an under 5 year old child mortality rates above 40 per 1000.

    For sub-Saharan Africa 167 children per 1000 in will die before the age of 5 years.

    In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country where 1/3rd of all the deaths of children under 5 anywhere on earth occur, 220 children under 5 die per 1000.

    But Gaza and the West Bank have a rate of under 5 year old child mortality rates of 18 per 1000, virtually the lowest rate of child mortality in the entire 3rd world, better even than most other Arab counties.

    Not to say life is great in Gaza, it isn't, but these facts from the UN really show the conflict in context.

    Remember, Palestinians and Israelis are not the only ones who suffer on this earth, and maybe some of your energy and drive to fix and change things for the better could be spent helping others who are in greater need.

  156. Okay, lets look at Gaza.

    References:
    United Nations Secretariat, Department of Economic and Social Affairs • Population Division http://www.un.org/esa/population/unpop.htm

    and the major report on infant and child mortality from UNICEF last week http://www.unicef.org/media/media_51087.html

    65 counties on earth have an under 5 year old child mortality rates above 40 per 1000.

    For sub-Saharan Africa 167 children per 1000 in will die before the age of 5 years.

    In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country where 1/3rd of all the deaths of children under 5 anywhere on earth occur, 220 children under 5 die per 1000.

    But Gaza and the West Bank have a rate of under 5 year old child mortality rates of 18 per 1000, virtually the lowest rate of child mortality in the entire 3rd world, better even than most other Arab counties.

    Not to say life is great in Gaza, it isn't, but these facts from the UN really show the conflict in context.

    Remember, Palestinians and Israelis are not the only ones who suffer on this earth, and maybe some of your energy and drive to fix and change things for the better could be spent helping others who are in greater need.

  157. http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2009/09/tiff_8_th

    TIFF : A destructive protest

    By Roger Ebert, host of Ebert and Roper at the Movies

    The tumult continues here about the decision to spotlight Tel Aviv in the City-to-City sidebar program of the Toronto Film Festival. The protesters say the festival is thereby recognizing the "apartheid regime" of Israel. The controversy shows no sign of abating, and indeed on Tuesday it was still big news in the Toronto newspapers, with the Star's front page featuring lineups of those opposing the TIFF decision (including Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Viggo Mortenson, Julie Christie and Danny Glover) and those supporting it (including Jerry Seinfeld, David Cronenberg, Sasha Baron Cohen, Lenny Kravitz, Lisa Kudrow and Natalie Portman).

    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.

    True artists are without a country. They speak for themselves. They often act as the voice of conscience in their nations. Consider Solzhenitsyn in Russia, Nadine Gordimer in South Africa, Andrez Wajda in Polace, the Czech New Wave, the Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers, the independent Iranian directors. They open discussion, broaden minds, exert a persistent pressure for change. When you disagree with a nation's policies, they are the last people you want to punish.

    I've seen a great many films in the last few years by directors both Israeli and Palestinian. Some of them dealt directly with issues of terrorism. I can't think of a single one that wasn't concerned primarily with the people in their stories. Not one that was virulently anti-Israeli or anti-Palestinian. Perhaps I missed such films. The impression I've gained is that ordinary people on both sides can live with one another, trade with one another, and love one another. These films argue for the middle, not the extremes. When they've dealt with terrorism, they've deplored it. The films seek to encourage a dialogue.

    I give you the wonderful film "The Band's Visit," a 2007 film by the Israeli director Eran Kolirin. I saw it here at Toronto. It involves the Alexandria (Egypt) Ceremonial Police Orchestra, which has been invited to perform a concert at an Arab Cultural Center, but takes the wrong bus and finds itself stranded overnight in a small Israeli desert town. Here the baffled locals do their best to accommodate them, and there is a touching late-night conversation between the band leader and a local woman who runs a cafe. They realize that at another time, in another place, they might have been soul mates. They never say this to each other, which is sort of perfect.

    This single film arguably did more to improve the situation than the entire boycott. Ironically, it was disqualified for Academy nomination in the Best Foreign Language category, because more than half the dialogue is in English — the only language the characters have in common. The woman was played by Ronit Elkabetz, who at the Israeli Film Academy Awards Ceremony told Kolirin, "You reminded us of a thing or two that we have already managed to forget. You showed us what would happen if we would stand before each other, Jews and Arabs and look each other in the eye."

    Did the TIFF boycotters spend very much time studying the films and directors they wanted to boycott? I doubt it. These were their targets:

    "Bena," by Niv Klainer, about a man trying to care for his schizophrenic son; "Big Dig," by the Nazi concentration camp survivor Ephraim Kishon, a Tati-style comedy about a madman with a jackhammer who distracts the city; "Big Eyes" (1974) by the Israeli film pioneer Uri Zohar, about a womanizing basketball coach; "The Bubble," by Eytan Fox, involving a troubled homosexual love affair between an Israeli and an Arab; ; "A History of Israeli Cinema," Parts 1 and 2," by Raphaël Nadjari; "Jaffa," by Keren Yedaya, a Romeo and Juliet story involving young Israeli-Arab couple who have known each other since childhood; "Kirot," by Danny Lerner, a suspense film involving two Tel Aviv women, one Ukranian, one Israeli; "Life According to Agfa," by Assi Dayan, a cross-section of people meeting in a raffish bar; and "Phobidilia," by Yoav and Doron Paz, about a young man who fears to ever leave his home.

    These are the films the protesters don't want to be shown. These films, by these directors — because they live in a country whose policies the protesters disagree with.

    Try putting the shoe on the other foot. What if, this time next year, TIFF's City-to-City program featured new films from Los Angeles? And these films starred or were directed by Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Viggo Mortenson, Julie Christie and Danny Glover?

    Surely there would be protests against this decision. Consider the U.S. record of militarism. Our economic mistreatment of smaller economies. Our deplorable record on environmental pollution. Our many states with death penalties — one of them, Texas, executing more people than the rest of the free world combined. Since Belafonte, Fonda, Mortenson, Christie and Klein live in America, surely they are culpable? And surely they should be boycotted? And since the U.S. is the most active supporter of Israel in the world, surely they would protest against themselves?

    Of course not. They would expect to be judged as individuals, as artists, not simply as Americans. Their protest at TIFF is opportunistic, knee-jerk and careless. It allows its participants, themselves artists, to grandstand at a cost to other artists.

    Think again of these names, which are the names of specific people: Niv Klainer, Ephraim Kishon, Uri Zohar, Eytan Fox, Raphaël Nadjari, Keren Yedaya, Danny Lerner, Assi Dayan, and Yoav and Doron Paz.

    They are part of the solution. They are not part of the problem.

  158. http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2009/09/tiff_8_th

    TIFF : A destructive protest

    By Roger Ebert, host of Ebert and Roper at the Movies

    The tumult continues here about the decision to spotlight Tel Aviv in the City-to-City sidebar program of the Toronto Film Festival. The protesters say the festival is thereby recognizing the "apartheid regime" of Israel. The controversy shows no sign of abating, and indeed on Tuesday it was still big news in the Toronto newspapers, with the Star's front page featuring lineups of those opposing the TIFF decision (including Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Viggo Mortenson, Julie Christie and Danny Glover) and those supporting it (including Jerry Seinfeld, David Cronenberg, Sasha Baron Cohen, Lenny Kravitz, Lisa Kudrow and Natalie Portman).

    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.

    True artists are without a country. They speak for themselves. They often act as the voice of conscience in their nations. Consider Solzhenitsyn in Russia, Nadine Gordimer in South Africa, Andrez Wajda in Polace, the Czech New Wave, the Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers, the independent Iranian directors. They open discussion, broaden minds, exert a persistent pressure for change. When you disagree with a nation's policies, they are the last people you want to punish.

    I've seen a great many films in the last few years by directors both Israeli and Palestinian. Some of them dealt directly with issues of terrorism. I can't think of a single one that wasn't concerned primarily with the people in their stories. Not one that was virulently anti-Israeli or anti-Palestinian. Perhaps I missed such films. The impression I've gained is that ordinary people on both sides can live with one another, trade with one another, and love one another. These films argue for the middle, not the extremes. When they've dealt with terrorism, they've deplored it. The films seek to encourage a dialogue.

    I give you the wonderful film "The Band's Visit," a 2007 film by the Israeli director Eran Kolirin. I saw it here at Toronto. It involves the Alexandria (Egypt) Ceremonial Police Orchestra, which has been invited to perform a concert at an Arab Cultural Center, but takes the wrong bus and finds itself stranded overnight in a small Israeli desert town. Here the baffled locals do their best to accommodate them, and there is a touching late-night conversation between the band leader and a local woman who runs a cafe. They realize that at another time, in another place, they might have been soul mates. They never say this to each other, which is sort of perfect.

    This single film arguably did more to improve the situation than the entire boycott. Ironically, it was disqualified for Academy nomination in the Best Foreign Language category, because more than half the dialogue is in English — the only language the characters have in common. The woman was played by Ronit Elkabetz, who at the Israeli Film Academy Awards Ceremony told Kolirin, "You reminded us of a thing or two that we have already managed to forget. You showed us what would happen if we would stand before each other, Jews and Arabs and look each other in the eye."

    Did the TIFF boycotters spend very much time studying the films and directors they wanted to boycott? I doubt it. These were their targets:

    "Bena," by Niv Klainer, about a man trying to care for his schizophrenic son; "Big Dig," by the Nazi concentration camp survivor Ephraim Kishon, a Tati-style comedy about a madman with a jackhammer who distracts the city; "Big Eyes" (1974) by the Israeli film pioneer Uri Zohar, about a womanizing basketball coach; "The Bubble," by Eytan Fox, involving a troubled homosexual love affair between an Israeli and an Arab; ; "A History of Israeli Cinema," Parts 1 and 2," by Raphaël Nadjari; "Jaffa," by Keren Yedaya, a Romeo and Juliet story involving young Israeli-Arab couple who have known each other since childhood; "Kirot," by Danny Lerner, a suspense film involving two Tel Aviv women, one Ukranian, one Israeli; "Life According to Agfa," by Assi Dayan, a cross-section of people meeting in a raffish bar; and "Phobidilia," by Yoav and Doron Paz, about a young man who fears to ever leave his home.

    These are the films the protesters don't want to be shown. These films, by these directors — because they live in a country whose policies the protesters disagree with.

    Try putting the shoe on the other foot. What if, this time next year, TIFF's City-to-City program featured new films from Los Angeles? And these films starred or were directed by Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Viggo Mortenson, Julie Christie and Danny Glover?

    Surely there would be protests against this decision. Consider the U.S. record of militarism. Our economic mistreatment of smaller economies. Our deplorable record on environmental pollution. Our many states with death penalties — one of them, Texas, executing more people than the rest of the free world combined. Since Belafonte, Fonda, Mortenson, Christie and Klein live in America, surely they are culpable? And surely they should be boycotted? And since the U.S. is the most active supporter of Israel in the world, surely they would protest against themselves?

    Of course not. They would expect to be judged as individuals, as artists, not simply as Americans. Their protest at TIFF is opportunistic, knee-jerk and careless. It allows its participants, themselves artists, to grandstand at a cost to other artists.

    Think again of these names, which are the names of specific people: Niv Klainer, Ephraim Kishon, Uri Zohar, Eytan Fox, Raphaël Nadjari, Keren Yedaya, Danny Lerner, Assi Dayan, and Yoav and Doron Paz.

    They are part of the solution. They are not part of the problem.

  159. You know, you really should try doing something positive to help people or work for peace or something, not obsess over baseless hatred.

    Gaza has one of the lowest rate of infant and child mortality in the 3rd world, according to UNICEF, lower than most Arab countries, 10 times lower than Africa.

    Look this up yourself here: http://www.un.org/esa/population/unpop.htm

    If it is the death of babies that moves you most, then you could try to use your energy to do something to help the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country where 1/3 of all children under 5 who die anywhere in the world die, the child death equivalent of 3 entire Gaza Wars each day, day in and day out, throughout the year, year after year after year.

    watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXmxTJnKDM8

  160. Uh oh… look out… here come the black helicopters!

    oh noes!

    So my understanding of your position is that all Israelis (including the filmmakers in question here) should be… what? Killed? Deported? To where? Let's hear some solutions to the situation here! Afterall, that's what discourse and dialogue is about.

    Does that include Elia Sulieman? Afterall, he is an Israeli? What about Udi Aloni? He is one too? So are dozens and dozens of the protest letter signatories? I assume they are the same filth you describe?

    You're funny… so angry!!! So angry that you traipse about a city writing on bus stops.

    "ROAR" says the little lion, "ROAR!"

    Take it down a notch, then both sides will take you seriously but the tin-foil hat paranoia kind of undercuts the points your trying to make.

  161. Solution.

    Israel needs to be exposed.
    UN sanctions (over 200) need to be addressed
    The ADL needs to be imprisoned.
    All Zionist operatives in media positions need to be arrested and tried.

    That oughta do it.

  162. Premise for arrests: Espionage.

    Premise for summary imprisonment (ADL): For blatantly doing everything under the sun that is illegal in every country of "occupation." Everything from conspiracy to fraud to espionage to treason to the big M.

  163. Awesome. So how do we tell the difference between a Zionist opperative and just a regular Jew?

    Also, what do we do about people like the names above? Are we including them in the round-up too?

    We should probably round up all those Christians who support Israel too. They're definitely up to no good. And while we're at it, let's also get those guys in Sweden who did the Mohammed drawings. They weren't Zionists but they might as well have been.

    Ooh! And you know what! We should also grab all those protestors in Iran. The president over there said they were all Zionist agents too!

    Ok, now don't tell anyone because this plan is sekrit! The newspaper men will kill us on their paper routes!

  164. You know, you really should try doing something positive to help people or work for peace or something, not obsess over baseless hatred.

    Gaza has one of the lowest rate of infant and child mortality in the 3rd world, according to UNICEF, lower than most Arab countries, 10 times lower than Africa.

    Look this up yourself here: http://www.un.org/esa/population/unpop.htm

    If it is the death of babies that moves you most, then you could try to use your energy to do something to help the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country where 1/3 of all children under 5 who die anywhere in the world die, the child death equivalent of 3 entire Gaza Wars each day, day in and day out, throughout the year, year after year after year.

    watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXmxTJnKDM8

  165. You know, you really should try doing something positive to help people or work for peace or something, not obsess over baseless hatred.

    Gaza has one of the lowest rate of infant and child mortality in the 3rd world, according to UNICEF, lower than most Arab countries, 10 times lower than Africa.

    Look this up yourself here: http://www.un.org/esa/population/unpop.htm

    If it is the death of babies that moves you most, then you could try to use your energy to do something to help the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country where 1/3 of all children under 5 who die anywhere in the world die, the child death equivalent of 3 entire Gaza Wars each day, day in and day out, throughout the year, year after year after year.

    watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXmxTJnKDM8

  166. People can say they hate Israel, say Israel does not has the right to exist etc.

    I even will go so far to say it is just possible for a reasonable person to hold such views and not necessarily be “a racist anti-Semite”, (shock, gasp !).

    Racists often do hold these kinds of views, but the views themselves are not necessarily racist views and not all of those who hold them are racist.

    For example, I myself deeply believe that the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are totality illegal racist settler entities and I myself deny these four entities have any right to exist either.

    I mean really, do any of you actually think it was legal for the British Army to just show up out of the blue in North America and Australia and New Zealand , to suddenly declare canceled all the native laws and land rights and steal two entire continents? I mean come on, all of it is stolen till today, every square inch of these continents, and the passage of 400 years or a million years for that matter won’t change this fact one iota. So therefore the governments of Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand are completely illegal null and void entities, as are every law any of these governments have ever passed. I seriously believe the only way to ever have just peace is for all non natives to just leave these lands and hand them back to the rightful owners. Of course the only problem with this is that in the histories of the indigenous peoples we know they themselves, the Dene, the Inuit, the Cree, the Iroquios, the Maoris, the Aboriginals etc. were hundreds of years ago constantly warring amongst themselves and stealing land from one another too, so after we first get rid of the settlers from Europe, Africa, and Asia then we will have to sort that inter-indigenous stealing mess out also, but first things first …..

    Anyways, all this is all free speech and I do 100% support their right to say these things obviously.

    But personal insults and threats are an “AIUSA terms of use” violation for this site.

  167. Wait, what?

    We’re all going to Sea World?

    Down deep I know I’m going to Sea World. Does that mean the whole world is going there too?

    Jeeze… gonna’ be quite a crowd.

    ps: everyone, take it down a notch – okay? Mr. Israel, sometimes Israel is wrong and it’s people, fortunately, have the strength to admit that. Mr. Anti-Israel, huffing & puffing like that is only going to make you hysterical. Calm down, stop the hate-speech and try to have a dialogue.

  168. Okay, lets look at Gaza.

    References:
    United Nations Secretariat, Department of Economic and Social Affairs • Population Division
    http://www.un.org/esa/population/unpop.htm

    and the major report on infant and child mortality from UNICEF last week
    http://www.unicef.org/media/media_51087.html

    65 counties on earth have an under 5 year old child mortality rates above 40 per 1000.

    For sub-Saharan Africa 167 children per 1000 in will die before the age of 5 years.

    In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country where 1/3rd of all the deaths of children under 5 anywhere on earth occur, 220 children under 5 die per 1000.

    But Gaza and the West Bank have a rate of under 5 year old child mortality rates of 18 per 1000, virtually the lowest rate of child mortality in the entire 3rd world, better even than most other Arab counties.

    Not to say life is great in Gaza, it isn’t, but these facts from the UN really show the conflict in context.

    Remember, Palestinians and Israelis are not the only ones who suffer on this earth, and maybe some of your energy and drive to fix and change things for the better could be spent helping others who are in greater need.

  169. http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2009/09/tiff_8_the_destructive_grandst.html

    TIFF : A destructive protest

    By Roger Ebert, host of Ebert and Roper at the Movies

    The tumult continues here about the decision to spotlight Tel Aviv in the City-to-City sidebar program of the Toronto Film Festival. The protesters say the festival is thereby recognizing the “apartheid regime” of Israel. The controversy shows no sign of abating, and indeed on Tuesday it was still big news in the Toronto newspapers, with the Star’s front page featuring lineups of those opposing the TIFF decision (including Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Viggo Mortenson, Julie Christie and Danny Glover) and those supporting it (including Jerry Seinfeld, David Cronenberg, Sasha Baron Cohen, Lenny Kravitz, Lisa Kudrow and Natalie Portman).

    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.

    True artists are without a country. They speak for themselves. They often act as the voice of conscience in their nations. Consider Solzhenitsyn in Russia, Nadine Gordimer in South Africa, Andrez Wajda in Polace, the Czech New Wave, the Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers, the independent Iranian directors. They open discussion, broaden minds, exert a persistent pressure for change. When you disagree with a nation’s policies, they are the last people you want to punish.

    I’ve seen a great many films in the last few years by directors both Israeli and Palestinian. Some of them dealt directly with issues of terrorism. I can’t think of a single one that wasn’t concerned primarily with the people in their stories. Not one that was virulently anti-Israeli or anti-Palestinian. Perhaps I missed such films. The impression I’ve gained is that ordinary people on both sides can live with one another, trade with one another, and love one another. These films argue for the middle, not the extremes. When they’ve dealt with terrorism, they’ve deplored it. The films seek to encourage a dialogue.

    I give you the wonderful film “The Band’s Visit,” a 2007 film by the Israeli director Eran Kolirin. I saw it here at Toronto. It involves the Alexandria (Egypt) Ceremonial Police Orchestra, which has been invited to perform a concert at an Arab Cultural Center, but takes the wrong bus and finds itself stranded overnight in a small Israeli desert town. Here the baffled locals do their best to accommodate them, and there is a touching late-night conversation between the band leader and a local woman who runs a cafe. They realize that at another time, in another place, they might have been soul mates. They never say this to each other, which is sort of perfect.

    This single film arguably did more to improve the situation than the entire boycott. Ironically, it was disqualified for Academy nomination in the Best Foreign Language category, because more than half the dialogue is in English — the only language the characters have in common. The woman was played by Ronit Elkabetz, who at the Israeli Film Academy Awards Ceremony told Kolirin, “You reminded us of a thing or two that we have already managed to forget. You showed us what would happen if we would stand before each other, Jews and Arabs and look each other in the eye.”

    Did the TIFF boycotters spend very much time studying the films and directors they wanted to boycott? I doubt it. These were their targets:

    “Bena,” by Niv Klainer, about a man trying to care for his schizophrenic son; “Big Dig,” by the Nazi concentration camp survivor Ephraim Kishon, a Tati-style comedy about a madman with a jackhammer who distracts the city; “Big Eyes” (1974) by the Israeli film pioneer Uri Zohar, about a womanizing basketball coach; “The Bubble,” by Eytan Fox, involving a troubled homosexual love affair between an Israeli and an Arab; ; “A History of Israeli Cinema,” Parts 1 and 2,” by Raphaël Nadjari; “Jaffa,” by Keren Yedaya, a Romeo and Juliet story involving young Israeli-Arab couple who have known each other since childhood; “Kirot,” by Danny Lerner, a suspense film involving two Tel Aviv women, one Ukranian, one Israeli; “Life According to Agfa,” by Assi Dayan, a cross-section of people meeting in a raffish bar; and “Phobidilia,” by Yoav and Doron Paz, about a young man who fears to ever leave his home.

    These are the films the protesters don’t want to be shown. These films, by these directors — because they live in a country whose policies the protesters disagree with.

    Try putting the shoe on the other foot. What if, this time next year, TIFF’s City-to-City program featured new films from Los Angeles? And these films starred or were directed by Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Viggo Mortenson, Julie Christie and Danny Glover?

    Surely there would be protests against this decision. Consider the U.S. record of militarism. Our economic mistreatment of smaller economies. Our deplorable record on environmental pollution. Our many states with death penalties — one of them, Texas, executing more people than the rest of the free world combined. Since Belafonte, Fonda, Mortenson, Christie and Klein live in America, surely they are culpable? And surely they should be boycotted? And since the U.S. is the most active supporter of Israel in the world, surely they would protest against themselves?

    Of course not. They would expect to be judged as individuals, as artists, not simply as Americans. Their protest at TIFF is opportunistic, knee-jerk and careless. It allows its participants, themselves artists, to grandstand at a cost to other artists.

    Think again of these names, which are the names of specific people: Niv Klainer, Ephraim Kishon, Uri Zohar, Eytan Fox, Raphaël Nadjari, Keren Yedaya, Danny Lerner, Assi Dayan, and Yoav and Doron Paz.

    They are part of the solution. They are not part of the problem.

  170. Uh oh… look out… here come the black helicopters!

    oh noes!

    So my understanding of your position is that all Israelis (including the filmmakers in question here) should be… what? Killed? Deported? To where? Let’s hear some solutions to the situation here! Afterall, that’s what discourse and dialogue is about.

    Does that include Elia Sulieman? Afterall, he is an Israeli? What about Udi Aloni? He is one too? So are dozens and dozens of the protest letter signatories? I assume they are the same filth you describe?

    You’re funny… so angry!!! So angry that you traipse about a city writing on bus stops.

    “ROAR” says the little lion, “ROAR!”

    Take it down a notch, then both sides will take you seriously but the tin-foil hat paranoia kind of undercuts the points your trying to make.

  171. We do enforce our "Terms of Use" on this blog.

    As a reminder to our readers, we will not tolerate any abusive comments, personal attacks or off-topic posts here.

    Many comments have already been removed because they do not follow these guidelines. If you cannot express your views without using foul or hateful language or without attacking members of our community, then you will be restricted from posting on this blog.

    Please refer to the Rules of Conduct section in our Terms of Use [http://www.amnestyusa.org/privacy-policy/terms-of-use/page.do?id=1041145] statement if you need further information. Please respect our community.

  172. Solution.

    Israel needs to be exposed.
    UN sanctions (over 200) need to be addressed
    The ADL needs to be imprisoned.
    All Zionist operatives in media positions need to be arrested and tried.

    That oughta do it.

  173. Premise for arrests: Espionage.

    Premise for summary imprisonment (ADL): For blatantly doing everything under the sun that is illegal in every country of “occupation.” Everything from conspiracy to fraud to espionage to treason to the big M.

  174. Awesome. So how do we tell the difference between a Zionist opperative and just a regular Jew?

    Also, what do we do about people like the names above? Are we including them in the round-up too?

    We should probably round up all those Christians who support Israel too. They’re definitely up to no good. And while we’re at it, let’s also get those guys in Sweden who did the Mohammed drawings. They weren’t Zionists but they might as well have been.

    Ooh! And you know what! We should also grab all those protestors in Iran. The president over there said they were all Zionist agents too!

    Ok, now don’t tell anyone because this plan is sekrit! The newspaper men will kill us on their paper routes!

  175. You know, you really should try doing something positive to help people or work for peace or something, not obsess over baseless hatred.

    Gaza has one of the lowest rate of infant and child mortality in the 3rd world, according to UNICEF, lower than most Arab countries, 10 times lower than Africa.

    Look this up yourself here:
    http://www.un.org/esa/population/unpop.htm

    If it is the death of babies that moves you most, then you could try to use your energy to do something to help the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country where 1/3 of all children under 5 who die anywhere in the world die, the child death equivalent of 3 entire Gaza Wars each day, day in and day out, throughout the year, year after year after year.

    watch this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXmxTJnKDM8

  176. We do enforce our "Terms of Use" on this blog.

    As a reminder to our readers, we will not tolerate any abusive comments, personal attacks or off-topic posts here.

    Many comments have already been removed because they do not follow these guidelines. If you cannot express your views without using foul or hateful language or without attacking members of our community, then you will be restricted from posting on this blog.

    Please refer to the Rules of Conduct section in our Terms of Use [http://www.amnestyusa.org/privacy-policy/terms-of-use/page.do?id=1041145] statement if you need further information. Please respect our community.

  177. We do enforce our "Terms of Use" on this blog.

    As a reminder to our readers, we will not tolerate any abusive comments, personal attacks or off-topic posts here.

    Many comments have already been removed because they do not follow these guidelines. If you cannot express your views without using foul or hateful language or without attacking members of our community, then you will be restricted from posting on this blog.

    Please refer to the Rules of Conduct section in our Terms of Use [http://www.amnestyusa.org/privacy-policy/terms-of-use/page.do?id=1041145] statement if you need further information. Please respect our community.

  178. Um John – you just said the solution here is to kill half of Israel. So you're calling for the extermination of about 3 million people.

    Way to keep it classy, buddy.

  179. I don't think it's fair to say that I instigated that at all. I simply invited Mr. Smith to say what he clearly was trying to say. His views are abhorrent, and shared by a number of people on this forum, and I think we all knew what he (and they) were talking about. I just gave him the room he needed to come out say it. You guys need to be careful – your threads seem to be home to a lot of hateful speech and a lot of people advocating truly dreadful actions.

  180. We do enforce our “Terms of Use” on this blog.

    As a reminder to our readers, we will not tolerate any abusive comments, personal attacks or off-topic posts here.

    Many comments have already been removed because they do not follow these guidelines. If you cannot express your views without using foul or hateful language or without attacking members of our community, then you will be restricted from posting on this blog.

    Please refer to the Rules of Conduct section in our Terms of Use [http://www.amnestyusa.org/privacy-policy/terms-of-use/page.do?id=1041145] statement if you need further information. Please respect our community.

  181. Um John – you just said the solution here is to kill half of Israel. So you’re calling for the extermination of about 3 million people.

    Way to keep it classy, buddy.

  182. I don’t think it’s fair to say that I instigated that at all. I simply invited Mr. Smith to say what he clearly was trying to say. His views are abhorrent, and shared by a number of people on this forum, and I think we all knew what he (and they) were talking about. I just gave him the room he needed to come out say it. You guys need to be careful – your threads seem to be home to a lot of hateful speech and a lot of people advocating truly dreadful actions.

  183. Well, I for one think it is great, all this crap with Israel is just insane, they are in a land that doesn't belong to them, was given to them by people/countries that didn't own it and now they turn around and commit the same atrocities against Palestine that they themselves received just 60 years earlier wtf. At the same time all you hear is "we just want to get along and live in peace with our neighbors" ,, cough cough gag, L I E S, and crap propaganda like this (Rabbi Marvin Hier was critical of those who signed the letter and was reported by TMZ as saying that “Whoever would sign on to a campaign like this would support the complete destruction of Israel.” ) is how they scare everyone into not being critical of these terrorists. hell I'm 16 and i know i could care less if the country dissolved, show me what GOOD that country has done for anyone else in the world that didn't better themselves in one fashion or another. easy to be the tough guy when your the 4th largest nuclear weapons holder lol and no i don't hate/dislike Jewish people, i dislike Israelis and their messed up ideologies

  184. Since you're 16 I'll assume you didn't bother to do any research before the statement that Israel hasn't contributed anything to the world. Here are six things that they have contributed which I bet you have used. You are so consumed with your anger that you failed to see what this thread was about though. It was about opening dialogue between cultures to bring about the end of the conflict. The rage I see in you and others here is exactly part of the problem. That both sides continue to hold onto to so much anger and mistrust. It has to end and to end people have to talk. That being said, I'm willing to bet you've used several of these things in the last 24 hours:

    1. The cell phone was developed in Israel by Israelis working in the Israeli branch of Motorola, which has its largest development center in Israel.

    2. Most of the Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel.

    3. The Pentium MMX Chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel. Both the Pentium-4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor were entirely designed, developed, and produced in Israel.

    4. The Pentium microprocessor in your computer was most likely made in Israel.

    5. Voice mail technology was developed in Israel.

    6. The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ was developed in 1996 by four young Israelis.

  185. Flipper you missed out that Jews invented the Debt Slavery Fractional Reserve Banking System off your list.

  186. Well, I for one think it is great, all this crap with Israel is just insane, they are in a land that doesn’t belong to them, was given to them by people/countries that didn’t own it and now they turn around and commit the same atrocities against Palestine that they themselves received just 60 years earlier wtf. At the same time all you hear is “we just want to get along and live in peace with our neighbors” ,, cough cough gag, L I E S, and crap propaganda like this (Rabbi Marvin Hier was critical of those who signed the letter and was reported by TMZ as saying that “Whoever would sign on to a campaign like this would support the complete destruction of Israel.” ) is how they scare everyone into not being critical of these terrorists. hell I’m 16 and i know i could care less if the country dissolved, show me what GOOD that country has done for anyone else in the world that didn’t better themselves in one fashion or another. easy to be the tough guy when your the 4th largest nuclear weapons holder lol and no i don’t hate/dislike Jewish people, i dislike Israelis and their messed up ideologies

  187. Since you’re 16 I’ll assume you didn’t bother to do any research before the statement that Israel hasn’t contributed anything to the world. Here are six things that they have contributed which I bet you have used. You are so consumed with your anger that you failed to see what this thread was about though. It was about opening dialogue between cultures to bring about the end of the conflict. The rage I see in you and others here is exactly part of the problem. That both sides continue to hold onto to so much anger and mistrust. It has to end and to end people have to talk. That being said, I’m willing to bet you’ve used several of these things in the last 24 hours:

    1. The cell phone was developed in Israel by Israelis working in the Israeli branch of Motorola, which has its largest development center in Israel.

    2. Most of the Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel.

    3. The Pentium MMX Chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel. Both the Pentium-4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor were entirely designed, developed, and produced in Israel.

    4. The Pentium microprocessor in your computer was most likely made in Israel.

    5. Voice mail technology was developed in Israel.

    6. The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ was developed in 1996 by four young Israelis.

  188. Flipper you missed out that Jews invented the Debt Slavery Fractional Reserve Banking System off your list.

  189. Truth: racism is unbecoming. Go back and read his note. He didn't ask what Jews have brought to the world, he asked what Israel has. It's people like you, with statements like that, that keep the future of the Palestinian people in hock to your own petty hatred. Your blinded by rage and bigotry and this in capable of having a productive conversation.

  190. Truth: racism is unbecoming. Go back and read his note. He didn’t ask what Jews have brought to the world, he asked what Israel has. It’s people like you, with statements like that, that keep the future of the Palestinian people in hock to your own petty hatred. Your blinded by rage and bigotry and this in capable of having a productive conversation.

  191. During the "war" of Gaza Dec'08/Jan'09 the Palestinians lost about 1500 people (mostly civilians – women and children).
    Guess how many Israel lost – 7 (seven).
    That is not a war, that is a genocide.
    A genocide that included contraband whitephisphorous against defenseless civilians.
    How can any of you Zionist sympathizers utter a word against the positive action of a boycott in order to try to bring what Israel is doing to the Palestinians into the mass media consciousness?

  192. Mouser, I fear you miss the point here. This is not about Gaza. This is about free exchange of ideas and artists trying to censor voices of other artists, even when the artists being muted are some of the most critical voices. This has nothing to do with Zionism.

    There is the 20th Annual Festival of Films from Iran starting tomorrow at the Siskel center in Chicago. Iran is a country that just a few months ago murdered its own citizens in the streets, beat and imprisoned hundreds, if not thousands, rigged an election and has committed untoled atrocities against it's own people but I don't see any of the people who protested Toronto showing up to protest this festival. Why?

    Apathy. Hypocrisy.

    If you want to protest TIFF then you should be outraged at every event which celebrates artists who live in countries which have committed brutal and oppressive acts. This is not the statement of a "Zionist sympathizer"; this is the statement of an artist who believes in artistic expression as a path to a peaceful future. When people don't talk they fight so we should be supporting every opportunity for people to talk.

    My question to you – why don't you want to engage?

  193. During the “war” of Gaza Dec’08/Jan’09 the Palestinians lost about 1500 people (mostly civilians – women and children).
    Guess how many Israel lost – 7 (seven).
    That is not a war, that is a genocide.
    A genocide that included contraband whitephisphorous against defenseless civilians.
    How can any of you Zionist sympathizers utter a word against the positive action of a boycott in order to try to bring what Israel is doing to the Palestinians into the mass media consciousness?

  194. Mouser, I fear you miss the point here. This is not about Gaza. This is about free exchange of ideas and artists trying to censor voices of other artists, even when the artists being muted are some of the most critical voices. This has nothing to do with Zionism.

    There is the 20th Annual Festival of Films from Iran starting tomorrow at the Siskel center in Chicago. Iran is a country that just a few months ago murdered its own citizens in the streets, beat and imprisoned hundreds, if not thousands, rigged an election and has committed untoled atrocities against it’s own people but I don’t see any of the people who protested Toronto showing up to protest this festival. Why?

    Apathy. Hypocrisy.

    If you want to protest TIFF then you should be outraged at every event which celebrates artists who live in countries which have committed brutal and oppressive acts. This is not the statement of a “Zionist sympathizer”; this is the statement of an artist who believes in artistic expression as a path to a peaceful future. When people don’t talk they fight so we should be supporting every opportunity for people to talk.

    My question to you – why don’t you want to engage?

  195. Just wonder..
    What occupation you talking about!?

    As far as I know the history, in 1920 the British Gov' have decided to give the land of what today is Israel & Jordan to the Jews to establish a nation.

    So as far as I can tell the group of people who call them selves "Palestinians"
    Are the invaders, intruders and occupants!

    The Palestinians are the Muslim's conspiracy against Israel!

  196. Just wonder..
    What occupation you talking about!?

    As far as I know the history, in 1920 the British Gov’ have decided to give the land of what today is Israel & Jordan to the Jews to establish a nation.

    So as far as I can tell the group of people who call them selves “Palestinians”
    Are the invaders, intruders and occupants!

    The Palestinians are the Muslim’s conspiracy against Israel!

  197. [...]other useful source of information on this subjectis ,blog.amnestyusa.org,[...]

  198. [...]other useful source of information on this subjectis ,blog.amnestyusa.org,[...]