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PACBI | 18 November 2011

Open Letter to Filmbase in Dublin: Apartheid Debases Art!

"We are seeing culture as a hasbara [propaganda] tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture."
--Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, former deputy director general of the Israeli foreign ministry.[1]

Occupied Ramallah
18 November 2011

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is distressed to learn that Filmbase in Dublin, a progressive forum for Irish film, has agreed to allow the Israeli Embassy in Ireland to hold “Israeli Film Days” on Filmbase premises beginning on November 24th. The Israeli embassy is actively promoting this free-of-charge festival on social media [2], and the festival’s promoters promise an extravaganza of Israeli music, dance, photography, and food dedicated to “celebrating the success of Israeli cinema worldwide.” [3] Given Israel’s intensifying occupation, colonialism and apartheid [4], we call on Filmbase to cancel this latest Israeli festival which aims at “re-branding” Israel [5] and whitewashing its grave violations of international law and Palestinian rights.

We are particularly surprised that a prominent Irish cultural institution would allow the Israeli embassy to carry out this audacious “Brand Israel” activity on its premises hardly two weeks after Irish peace activists were illegally apprehended by the Israeli navy in international waters, humiliated and imprisoned in Israel after the MV Saoirse was accosted and hijacked by Israeli commandos.

Palestinian civil society is united in calling upon citizens of the world to boycott Israel and its cultural and academic institutions until Israel respects international law. In 2004, inspired by the triumphant cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, and supported by key Palestinian unions and cultural groups, PACBI issued a call for the academic and cultural boycott of institutions involved in Israel’s occupation and apartheid [6]. Following this, in 2005, an overwhelming majority in Palestinian civil society called for an all-encompassing BDS campaign based on the principles of human rights, justice, freedom and equality [7]. The BDS movement adopts a nonviolent, morally consistent strategy to hold Israel accountable to the same human rights standards as other nations. It is asking artists to heed the boycott call until Israel withdraws from all the lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; removes all its colonies in those lands; agrees to United Nations resolutions relevant to the restitution of Palestinian refugees rights; and dismantles its system of apartheid. [8].

Conscientious Irish citizens, among them the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, have already voiced their opposition to Filmbase’s hosting of this Israeli propaganda exercise, drawing attention to the fact that respected Irish filmmakers and actors have pledged to boycott Israel, while most recently, John Michael McDonagh declined an invitation to be present at the screening of his film at the Haifa Film Festival, in protest against Israeli politics. [9]. While Riverdance ignored our boycott appeal and crossed our picket line, the group’s set designer, Rabert Ballagh, set an example in solidarity when he heeded the boycott. [10] Since August 2011, more than 200 Irish filmmakers and other cultural figures have signed the pledge to respect the cultural boycott of Israel. [11]

We urge you to reconsider your decision to allow Filmbase’s good name to become a cover for an apartheid regime! We look forward to hearing of the cancelation of “Israel Days” at Filmbase.



[2] E.g.!/IsraelinIreland/status/136034682503577600
[4] In its most recent session in Cape Town, South Africa, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine concluded that, “Israel’s rule over the Palestinian people, wherever they reside, collectively amounts to a single integrated regime of apartheid."
[5] For more on the official “Brand Israel” campaign see:

Posted on 18-11-2011

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