hey, queers, hear this!!

Artists ditch Israel’s pinkwashing film festival
Nora Barrows-Friedman, Electronic Intifada, Jun 1 2017

A group of film-makers, artists and presenters have canceled their scheduled appearances at TLV Fest, Israel’s premier LGBTQ film festival in Tel Aviv, following appeals by queer Palestinian activists and boycott supporters to withdraw. The high-profile cancellations in support of the BDS movement prompted the JPost to admit that while the festival “has been around for more than a decade, it has never faced a campaign this successful against it.” Last week, award-winning South African film director John Trengove withdrew from the festival, which will begin on Jun 1. He requested that his film, The Wound (Inxeba), not be screened. Trengove wrote in a letter to the film festival’s organizers:

With the pain of the apartheid struggle still fresh in our collective consciousness, the issue is, as you can imagine, a very sensitive one for many South Africans​.​ I was contacted by activists with BDS South Africa, who underscored the issue of pinkwashing. While I appreciate that the organizers ​of TLV Fest ​may be well intentioned and progressive, it is impossible to look past the fact that the festival (and my participation in it) could serve as a diversion from the human rights violations being committed by the state of Israel.

Activists explained to Trengove that Israel’s minister of culture, Miri Regev, would be attending the festival. In 2012, Regev called African migrants “a cancer” on the state of Israel, later apologizing to cancer victims for comparing them to Africans. The Israeli culture ministry is one of the major sponsors of the festival. Under the guidelines from the BDS movement, any public event “carried out under the sponsorship/aegis of or in affiliation with an official Israeli body or a complicit institution constitutes complicity and therefore is deserving of boycott.” Catherine Gund, a filmmaker and organizer, also canceled her appearance, as did her co-director Daresha Kyi and their entire production team, campaigners say. Gund and Kyi wrote to festival organizers:

TLV Fest is being supported by government entities in Israel that are deeply complicit in violations of international law which include ongoing wars, repression of Palestinians and occupation of Palestinian lands. … cultural events, such as this festival, aim to cover up these violations. On a personal and political level, we cannot support this. Our film, which sets forth a vision of peace and freedom, should not be at an Israeli-government funded cultural event. We stand in solidarity with the boycott.

Along with Trengove, Gund and Kyi, Fawzia Mirza, Jasna Fritzi Bauer, Nadia Abraham and Helene Hegemann have all pulled out of the festival. As a result, campaigners say, the entire line-up for a panel on women in cinema has been removed from the festival’s website. Haneen Maikey, director of the Palestinian LGBTQ group al-Qaws, stated:

As Palestinian queer activists, we warmly welcome the support of principled artists like John Trengove, Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi, who refuse to let their art cover up and ‘pinkwash’ grave Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.

Hind Awwad of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) told EI:

(The wave of cancellations) speaks to the growing sentiment of ‘no business as usual’ with Israel and its complicit institutions, until Israel respects Palestinians’ full rights. It is also adds to numerous earlier examples of the failure of Israel’s whitewashing, pinkwashing and all other colors of washing that aim to cover up Israel’s occupation and apartheid. (Campaigners are inspired by artists who have) refused to lend their good name to perpetrating human rights abuses.

Meanwhile, the British band Radiohead continues to ignore mounting pressure by Palestinians and international campaigners to cancel their July performance in Tel Aviv. Awwad said it is difficult to understand why the band’s progressive politics “fall short when it comes to Palestinian rights.” But she says campaigners still hope that Radiohead will heed the calls by Palestinians, thousands of fans, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, filmmaker Ken Loach, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and tens of renowned artists who have all appealed to the band:

Please do what artists did in South Africa’s era of oppression: stay away, until apartheid is over.

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