- But Tel Aviv festival organizer says they are wrong and the boycott will harm progress.
Over 130 filmmakers are boycotting Tel Aviv’s International LGBT Film Festival to show solidarity with LGBT+ Palestinians.
Organizers of the boycott say TLVFest is ‘pinkwashing’. They say the festival helps Israel project ‘a progressive image while denying the rights of all Palestinians, queer and non queer alike’.
But festival organizers have replied that the Israeli government is actually against them. And they say the boycott will actually do more harm than good.
Demand for international law and Palestinian rights
This year’s TLVFest is scheduled for 4 to 13 June and will be the 15th year for the annual event.
But 130 filmmakers from around the world, including at least 100 from the LGBT+ community, have joined the boycott.
They signed a pledge promising ‘not to submit films or otherwise participate in TLVFest or other events partially or fully sponsored by complicit Israeli institutions until Israel complies with international law and respects Palestinian human rights’.
The pledge argues LGBT+ liberation ‘intimately connects’ with liberating others – including Palestinians.
Palestinian LGBT+ groups organized the boycott. And the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel is supporting them. It is the cultural arm of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, or BDS.
Turner Prize winner Charlotte Prodger, Palme d’Or nominee Alain Guiraudie, and America in Transition director Andre Perez have all signed.
And award-winning Indian documentary filmmaker Harjant Gill, UK-based Touch of Pink director Ian Iqbal Rashid, and Portuguese director and screenwriter Raquel Freire are also signatories.
Moreover, organizers say they have tried to engage with TLVFest for a decade. However the Culture and Sports Ministry, the Israel Film Council, and the Tel Aviv Municipality all sponsor it.
Standing against the government ‘proudly and openly’
However, the founder and artistic director of TLVFest Yair Hochner has asked them to think again.
In a statement he said:
‘We understand that the filmmakers who declared they will boycott TLVFest think they are helping the Palestinians. However, they are wrong.
‘It is more important than ever that the international community continue to support dissenting voices in Israel in favour of human rights and equality, especially following the re-election of the Likud governing party.’
He explains the ruling Likud party ‘opposes the festival, called for its boycott, and works against it’.
And he argues Likud gained popularity because fewer Israelis now believe ‘there can be a better future for Israel with the Palestinians.’
Moreover, he argues a boycott actually undermines the voice of dissent within Israel:
‘We do not presume to tell our Palestinians neighbors how to run their nonviolent national campaigns. [But] we appeal to them to recognize that this boycott would be a mistake.
‘So far, the Israeli law and courts have forced the government to support the festival financially, despite government efforts to withdraw funding.’
And he claims the government and Ministry of Culture accuses the of supporting BDS. The BDS is the very movement that is boycotting them.
Finally he says the festival is not ‘pinkwashing’. Rather, he says it stands against the ‘homophobic, racist and misogynistic government of Israel’. And he adds ‘we say that openly and proudly’.