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Boycott the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival 2018

New call from Pinkwatching Israel - a global movement for queer powered BDS - to boycott the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival.

Palestinian queers and their allies in the BDS movement call for a boycott of the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival (TLVFest) taking place between May 31- June 9 2018. We call on international filmmakers to withdraw their movies from the festival and respect the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel until Palestinians have their human rights respected. Palestinians are calling for people of conscience around the world to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law, including a call for artists not to perform or show their work in Israel. The Palestinian cultural boycott call has been heeded by a growing number of cultural figures from around the world including filmmakers John GreysonMira NairKen Loach,The Yes Men and Mike Leigh. It sends Israel the message that there is no business as usual for as long as Israel continues to oppress and deny rights to Palestinians.

In 2017, five directors pulled-out of TLVFest in solidarity with a call from Palestinian queers. South African director John Trengove said at the time:

“With the pain of the Apartheid struggle still fresh in our collective consciousness, the issue is … a very sensitive one for many South Africans. …knowing what I know now, I feel it is imperative that I withdraw myself from attending. … [I]t 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.”

The Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival is sponsored by entities in Israel that are deeply complicit in violations of international law. The Israeli Minister of Culture, one of the sponsors of the festival, is a leading body in the Brand Israel project launched in 2005 to promote a positive image of Israel abroad to distract attention from the daily reality of occupation and violence against Palestinians. The Film Festival promotes the cynical use of gay rights – known as Pinkwashing – to distract from and normalize Israeli occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid. The cultural boycott is therefore not about censoring artistic creations, but rather about asking international artists, such as filmmakers, not to participate in Israeli cultural events sponsored by the Israeli state, such as TLVFest, until Israel respects the human rights of Palestinians.

We ask filmmakers not to let their artistic freedom and voices be co-opted by the Israeli state and its associates, such as TLVFest and TLVPride 2018. Pinkwashing seeks to turn you, in the words of Tel Aviv Municipality LGBT spokesman Yaniv Weizman, into “an ambassador for Israel“.

Your work will be featured in Tel Aviv mere days after Israel carried out another massacre of Palestinians in Gaza, including of children. More than 12,000 have been injured; many so severely that they will require the amputation of limbs. Israel will be celebrating Pride and TLVFest while Palestinian families are grieving their loved ones. With governments unwilling to hold Israel accountable, pressure from international civil society such as the one applied to apartheid South Africa represent an effective means of pressure and give hope to Palestinians – Palestinian queers included – for freedom, justice and equality.

As filmmakers who play a crucial role in giving visibility to LGBT communities, injustices against LGBTs, and LGBT emancipation, we hope you will not remain blind to the misleading reality Israel presents and stand firm against injustice and occupation through withdrawing your participation from TLVFest.

Pinkwatching is a collective of Palestinian queers and their allies in the Palestinian-led Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for freedom, justice and equality. We oppose attempts by Israel and complicit institutions to use gay rights to divert attention from – and justify – the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people.

Read more:

TLVFest Hit with Wave of Cancellations Ahead of Opening

Boycott of LGBT Tel Aviv Film Festival Gains Momentum with New Cancellations