We are a group of Israeli citizens, active against Israel’s decades-long violations of international law and human rights against the Palestinian people. Our statement of principles already has more than 1,000 signatures of Israeli citizens. We are asking the Canada Media Fund, the National Film Board of Canada, Hub Montreal and Xn Quebec to refuse to legitimize these Israeli policies via partnership in the international co-production in digital creation project, with the Israeli Gesher Multicultural Film Fund, the Makor Foundation for Israeli Films, and the Haifa International Film Festival.
We note that Canadian cultural institutions have been increasingly committed to the rights of indigenous communities in Canada, harmed by centuries of colonial ill-treatment, dispossession and discrimination. We also note that the State of Israel, at this time, practices similar colonialism against millions of indigenous Palestinians, which must be rejected. Israel implements a brutal military occupation which confines millions in the West Bank to separate enclaves and restricts their rights to free movement and dignified livelihood. Israel imprisons millions of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza strip in the world’s largest open-air prison.
Since 2005, a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society groups has been calling on the international community to boycott official Israeli institutions until Israel respects international law, ends the occupation in the West Banks, lifts the siege on Gaza, dismantles the illegal separation wall built on occupied land in the West Bank, grants full equality to its 1.5 million Palestinian citizens and respects the right of return of Palestinian refugees whose families were ethnically cleansed from the land in 1948. This call - the BDS movement - is a democratic, grassroots-based non-violent campaign which walks in the footsteps of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. This campaign poses the only substantial alternative to Israel’s ongoing brutality, and it offers a path to full democracy and equality for all those living here.
One must realize that official Israeli support for initiatives such as this Canadian-Israeli partnership is part of a cynical attempt to use culture for propaganda and for shielding Israel from international accountability for its crimes. We often cite a statement by Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, who openly stated in 2005 that "We see culture as a hasbara [propaganda] tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture."
Artistic creation should be encouraged. However, there are basic ethical guidelines one should abide by in doing so. Canadian partnership with Israeli state institutions grants legitimacy to Israel’s violations of human rights and international law.
A growing number of international artists around the world have endorsed the BDS call. Now comes your opportunity to join them. History has not been kind to artists who cooperated with the apartheid regime in South Africa. We are convinced that history will not be kind to artists who cooperate with the Israeli apartheid regime here. We call on you to cancel this Israeli-Canadian partnership. We also call on Canadian artists to reject any funding which is based on this partnership.
We would be happy to address your comments on this matter.
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within (aka Boycott from Within)