Resistance to Israel showcase at Toronto Film Festival

The Toronto International Film Festival is in the news for its decision to feature Israeli film--and the city of Tel Aviv--prominently in its program. Many artists and film-makers signed a letter of protest. 
Signatories to an open letter called The Toronto Declaration: No Celebration of Occupation – among them the filmmaker Ken Loach, the actors Jane Fonda and Danny Glover, the singer David Byrne, the Canadian writer Naomi Klein, the US playwrights Eve Ensler and Wallace Shawn, and the Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman – complained that the selection contained no Palestinian filmmakers and linked the programme to an Israeli government promotional campaign. (The festival insists the selection was made independently.)

“We protest that TIFF, whether intentionally or not, has become complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine,” they stated in the declaration, which was also signed by several Israeli filmmakers and by the Canadian director John Greyson, who withdrew his short film, Covered, from TIFF. 

You can read the full letter here. As it mentions, the Israeli government has devoted considerable resources since the Gaza war--and the international condemnation that followed--to a PR campaign that focuses heavily on cultural events to rehabilitate its image. You can learn more about what strikes me as the increasingly dynamic movement for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel by going to the website of PACBI.
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Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.