Letter: Boycott means boycotting Palestinian films?

Submitted by Matthew on 12 October, 2016 - 11:35 Author: John Cunningham

I agree with Martin Thomas’s article (‘Jackie Walker, Momentum and Anti-semitism’, Solidarity 418) but I would like to make a few comments on the call, by the Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, for a boycott of the Jewish Film Festival which Martin briefly mentions.

Of all the areas for the “boycott Israel” movement to focus on, a Jewish film festival seems the least appropriate. Many Palestinian films have received support of one kind or another from either individual Israeli filmmakers and technicians or Israeli organisations. In fact in some cases these films simply would not have been made if it were not for this input.

Look at the credits at the end of almost any Palestinian film, and you will see Jewish names in positions such as sound engineer, lighting or editor. In 2014, the Israeli-based New Fund for Cinema and Television announced its Greenhouse Women Programme which aims to bring together Arab and Jewish women filmmakers and a number of short films and documentaries have already resulted from this initiative.

While the situation for Palestinian filmmakers, a number of whom live in exile, remains very difficult — and we should demand that restrictions on them are lifted immediately — we should not ignore the internationalist efforts of various Israeli film personnel to improve their situation.

Calls for the kind of cultural boycott advocated by the Jewish Anti-Zionist Network are not only reactionary but also useless, and would do little to help the real situation on the ground. Better, for example, a campaign to fund the building of film exhibition facilities in Palestinian areas. As far as I aware there is only one functioning cinema in the whole of the Occupied Territories.