From Israeli Citizens - Please Do Not Take Part in Pinkwashing ! Please Withdraw from TLVFest !
We are citizens of Israel, active against Israel's decades-long policies of occupation, colonialism and apartheid. We have come to the conclusion that an international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is necessary to end these crimes, just as the BDS campaign helped end apartheid in South Africa. (1)
We support the call issued by Pinkwatching Israel - Palestinian queers and their allies in the BDS Movement, for a boycott of the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival (TLVFest) taking place between June 1-10 2017.
More specifically, we would like to explain why NOT performing and NOT screening one's film in such a festival is the strongest artistic act of solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
In recent years, several international artists thought that their participation in cultural projects in Israel would help bring about a change in Israel's policies. We believe that this view is benevolent yet naive.
State-sponsored LGBT film festivals in Tel Aviv are the epitome of the Israeli apartheid whitewashing industry. These festivals allow the audience to watch films in luxurious surroundings, and pay lip service to human rights struggles (sometimes even the Palestinian one), without committing to any substantial dissident act. In other words, such festivals allow Israeli liberals to feel good about themselves while constructing no serious opposition.
In this context, one should note the case of musician Roger Waters, who has provided us with an honest account of his change of heart on BDS. In 2006 Waters played in Israel, thinking that his appeal to the audience and to the Israeli public at large would promote political action against Israel's occupation and apartheid. However, he soon discovered that Israelis were interested in the musical experience he had offered them, but not in his anguished call for action in his lyrics and appeal from the stage, all of which were subsumed in the entertainment experience the audience had come for. (1)
Can art change the world? Art can consolidate an existent protest movement. Art can also challenge a repressive regime when it takes its crimes head on.
The Tel Aviv LGBT Film Festival does nothing of the sort. The festival is sponsored by the regime to boost its image, and stave off the #1 threat to Israel's apartheid - a global campaign of BDS, often led by conscientious artists.
Artists who truly wish to support the Palestinian cause should listen to the calls from Palestinian society. In fact, the few Israeli groups active on the ground for solidarity with the Palestinian people have endorsed BDS, and have surely not called on artists to take part in regime-sponsored festivals as a means for political change.
In view of these circumstances, we, as Israeli citizens and dissidents, call on all international artists invited to the TLVFest to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, and withdraw from this pinkwashing propaganda event, until Palestinians have their human rights respected.
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within (aka Boycott from within)