Israeli queers and allies to international participants of the TLVfest: TLVfest professes concern over Israel's crimes and solidarity with Palestinians victims, while teaming up with its very perpetrators

November 2020
Israeli queers and allies to international participants of the TLVfest: TLVfest professes concern over Israel's crimes and solidarity with Palestinians victims, while teaming up with its very perpetrators.
Dear participants,
We write to you concerning your film screening in the TLVfest.
We represent one thousand citizens of Israel, who are active against our government's violations of international law and human rights against the indigenous Palestinian people [1]. Many of us are LGBTQIA+ and we support the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) of Israel, until it ends its military occupation and apartheid policies [2]. Most relevant, is our support of the call for a boycott of TLVFest, issued by Palestinian queers at Pinkwatching Israel[3], and the global response of film makers to this call, under the name Queer Cinema for Palestine [4]. We are writing to you to ask you to show solidarity with Palestinian queer folk, and not to cross their picket line.
It brings us absolutely no joy to disrupt an event that on the face of it celebrates us, but as a part of this community, we can't stand silent as our struggles and hard-won freedoms as LGBTQIAs are exploited in order to pinkwash Israel's colonialism.
Queer folk all around the world are contending with the issues of our queerness being commodified and exploited by corporations, governments, and in the case of Israel, even the army. And while this is mostly done for commercial interest, in our case, it is done in order to erase an indigenous people, and to distract attention from these acts of ethnic cleansing.
We would like to draw your attention to ethnic cleansing.
Ethnic cleansing relates to a collection of practices that can “… constitute crimes against humanity and can be assimilated to specific war crimes. Furthermore, such acts could also fall within the meaning of the Genocide Convention.”[5]
TLVfest claims to be in solidarity with Palestinian LGBTQIs, and touts its one single short by a Palestinian, among the dozens of films it's screening this year, as proof of this solidarity. This tokenistic approach is meant to convince you that TLVfest is in fact part of the Palestinian struggle.
In reality however, TLVfest is funded by the Tel Aviv municipality, which is responsible for the continual displacement of the indigenous Palestinians of Yafa, using economic and legalistic means, evicting families, demolishing homes, and neglecting and defunding whole neighborhoods, in a process of gentrification that favors Jewish-Israelis over Palestinians [6].
In addition, despite the festival's claims to be independent of the government, its municipality funds are matched by the government every year [7 Hebrew]. One is left to wonder how the festival can make such bold claims about "freedom, justice, equality and peace", as their existence hinges on the institutions which systematically violate them.
Finally, this year, the festival has added Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs to its sponsor list. The ministry was created for the sole purpose of persecuting indigenous Palestinian human rights defender organisations and their allies [8], and in particular those who take part in the BDS movement [9]. While one of the ministry's stated goals is to disguise its propaganda efforts by recruiting civil society organisations, it seemed to have temporarily abandon this strategy in the case of TLVfest, and its banner was clearly visible on the festival's website, until several days ago when Queer Cinema for Palestine pointed out the sponsorship [10].

While TLVfest professes concern over Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people, it has teamed up with its very perpetrators, while claiming to be in solidarity with their victims.

Artists who wish to support the indigenous Palestinian people in their struggle against colonialism, should listen to the calls from Palestinian civil society. Taking part in regime-sponsored festivals as a means for political change, is not only a philosophical oxymoron, but entails real life and death consequences.

We ask you to join the worldwide movement for indigenous, civil, and human rights. Stand in solidarity with the indigenous Palestinian people, and withdraw from the TLVfest.

Please contact us with any questions that you may have.


Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within