Boycott the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival
Palestinian queers and their allies in the BDS movement call for a boycott of the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival (TLVFest) taking place between June 1-10 2017. We call on international filmmakers to withdraw their movies from the festival and respect the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel until Palestinians have their human rights respected. Like with apartheid South Africa, Palestinians are calling for people of conscience around the world to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law, including a call for artists not to perform or show their work in Israel. The Palestinian cultural boycott call has been heeded by a growing number of cultural figures from around the world including filmmakers John Greyson, Mira Nair, Ken Loach,The Yes Men and Mike Leigh. It sends Israel the message that there is no business as usual for as long as Israel continues to oppress and deny rights to Palestinians.
The Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival is sponsored by entities in Israel that are deeply complicit in violations of international law. The Israeli Minister of Culture, one of the sponsors of the festival, is a leading body in the Brand Israel project launched in 2005 to promote a positive image of Israel abroad to distract attention from the daily reality of occupation and violence against Palestinians. The Film Festival promotes the cynical use of gay rights – known as Pinkwashing – to distract from and normalize Israeli occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid. The cultural boycott is therefore not about censoring artistic creations, but rather about asking international artists, such as filmmakers, not to participate in Israeli cultural events sponsored by the Israeli state, such as TLVFest, until Israel respects the human rights of Palestinians.
For this reason, Palestinian queer and solidarity activists have called on LGBT filmmakers in our latest call “Israeli Colonialism, Occupation and Apartheid; Don’t Let if B’! Boycott Tel Aviv Pride” not to lend cultural legitimacy to Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid. We ask filmmakers not to let their artistic freedom and voices be co-opted by the Israeli state and its associates, such as TLVFest and TLVPride 2017. Pinkwashing seeks to turn you, in the words of Tel Aviv Municipality LGBT spokesman Yaniv Weizman, into “an ambassador for Israel.
As Canadian LGBT filmmaker John Greyson, upon cancelling his participation in the festival in 2009, said: “Queer rights aren’t divisible from human rights. Queer rights aren’t divisible from social justice. We know that from the South African experience.”
Your work will be featured in Tel Aviv in the same month as Palestinians mark the 50th anniversary of the military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. For decades Israel has been allowed to occupy and deny freedom to a whole people without consequences. Effective international solidarity in the form of boycotts give hope to Palestinians – Palestinian queers included – for freedom, justice and equality.
As filmmakers who play a crucial role in giving visibility to LGBT communities, injustices against LGBTs, and LGBT emancipation, we hope you will not remain blind to the misleading reality Israel presents and stand firm against injustice and occupation through withdrawing your participation from TLVFest.
Pinkwatching is a collective of Palestinian queers and their allies in Palestinian-led Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for freedom, justice and equality. We oppose attempts by Israel and complicit institutions to use gay rights to divert attention from, and justify the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people.