Dear participants of the Tel-Aviv Epos International Art Film Festival,
We are a group of citizens of Israel, writing to you today to ask that you reconsider your participation in the international film festival in Tel-Aviv next week. We support the Palestinian Call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on Israel, a method of struggle against the Israeli occupation chosen by over 170 Palestinian civil society organisations. BDS asks that international artists refuse to perform in Israel while it keeps over four million Palestinians in an open-air prison of sorts under martial-law without any rights.
You might not be aware that the festival you intend to participate in is sponsored by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, as well as Bank Discount and Bank HaPoalim, all directly complicit to Israel's policy of systematic ethnic oppression and ongoing occupation.
Not only is the Foreign Ministry directly complicit in the perpetration of decades-long violations of Palestinian human rights, but a recent annual report by the group "Who Profits?" found that both sponsoring banks are directly accountable for financing economic activities which sustain continued Israeli control over the occupied territories. In that, the sponsors of the film festival sustain a reality in which , for example, Palestinians farmers' agricultural land, their bread and butter, is systematically seized by Israeli settlements, their houses are surrounded with a separation wall which does not allow basic freedom of movement, and all (men, women and children alike) are subject to random arrests for any amount of time without charge or viable trial.
When you agree to take part in such an event, you de facto not only agree to this reality, in which Palestinian fans of your work living under Israeli occupation are barred from coming to see your films and hear your talks, but you actively encourage it by rendering it normal.
In the current social reality in Israel, your participation in a government-sponsored festival will inevitably function as an act of normalisation of the way things are, an act of approval sending a message of 'business as usual'.
Please do not cross the picket line of this struggle; do not participate in the construction of a facade of normalcy to daily atrocities which take place 45 minutes from the movie theatres of Tel-Aviv.
Ohal Grietzer and Ofer Neiman
On behalf of Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from within