Monday, September 7, 2009

Anti-Israel Boycott Reaches Toronto International Film Festival

This past year, In Toronto, the best way to guarantee success is to be the victim of an Anti-Israel boycott. The Boycott of an LCBO in April, saw their Israeli wines sold out in 15 minutes, with other kosher wines sold as a substitute. The jump in sales in other stores. A Palestinian attempt to usurp the Dead Sea scrolls brought about similar results where they are being displayed at the ROM.

This year the Toronto International Film Festival choose Tel Aviv to be the feature city. Tel Aviv has been celebrating their 100th anniversary, plus Israel always brings the type of open thought that film festivals are supposed to bring. A film has already been withdrawn in protest and there are a bunch of people in the industry supporting the boycott. There will be a big conference on the first day of the festival to bring maximum attention to the call to boycott.

Cameron Bailey decided that this issue was important enough to respond. In a letter he defended TIFF decision to choose Tel Aviv as the feature city. Towards the end he the protest by saying

"John writes that his protest isn’t against the films or filmmakers we have chosen, but against the spotlight itself. By that reasoning, no films programmed within this series would have met his approval, no matter what they contained. For us, the content and form of films does matter. In fact, when I met with a number of the signatories earlier this week, I encouraged them to see the films before passing judgment on the programme. Regrettably, they chose a different route. We know some of them to be veterans of Toronto’s battles against censorship -- all the more surprising to watch them denounce a film series without seeing the films in it."

If he had stopped here, he would have gaurenteed a sold out festival. He succinctly pointed out how silly it is that people recalibrate their moral compass when Israel is involved. The Jewish community would have cause to rally around the festival. Just an other example of out of touch with reality celebrities buying into the the nothing good can possibly come from Israel attitude.

Unfortunatly, Bailey choose to add a final paragraph to his letter.

"We recognize that Tel Aviv is not a simple choice and that the city remains contested ground. We continue to learn more about the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. As a festival that values debate and the exchange of cultures, we will continue to screen the best films we can find from around the world. This is our contribution to expanding our audiences’ experience of this art form and the worlds it represents."

Bailey has managed to find a backhanded way to try to show support while claiming that the film festival should be exempt. Tel Aviv is the city where all the world's embassies are because they refuse to recognize Jerusalem in any way shape or form as part of Israel. Anyone claiming Tel Aviv as contested ground is either incredibly ignorant or sees the only solution for the Palestinians is the elimination of Israel. A perfect rebuke ruined by the need to keep everyone happy.

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