The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) is disappointed to learn that Hot Docs has partnered with the Israeli organization “CoPro Documentary Marketing Foundation” to organise a Canadian Delegation to CoPro 13, a forum for international documentary co-productions to be held in Tel Aviv from 23 – 30 May, 2011. According to Hot Doc’s December 2010 press statement “Canadian producers will pitch to Israeli broadcasters, funders and co-producers, and will be provided with assistance towards the cost of travel and accommodation.”
CoPro 13 is organized by CoPro Documentary Marketing Foundation whose funders include the Israel Film Council, an official part of the Israeli Ministry of Science, Culture and Sports, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Golan Heights Winery, which operates illegally in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. CAIA calls on Hot Docs to respect the cultural boycott of Israel and to cease working with cultural institutions supported by the Israeli state and illegal settler organizations.
CoPro13 is part of a “rebranding” Israel campaign to take the focus off Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and its aggressive wars, and refocus on achievements in medicine, science and culture. This is evident in the support it gets from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in the fact that in 2005 CoPro was awarded the Knesset Chairman’s Prize for its work in promoting Israeli film around the world.
Partnering with an organization that promotes Israel in such a manner is, at best, an implicit endorsement of its persistent violations of international law and Palestinian human rights which include, most recently, the brutal military assault on Gaza in 2008/9 that left over 1,440 Palestinians dead, the May 2010 attack on the Mavi Marmara and the ongoing siege of Gaza. Behind these extreme assaults there is the ongoing backdrop of the military occupation of the West Bank, illegal settlement building, displacement of the Palestinian population of Jerusalem and the denial of the right of return of millions of Palestinian refugees.
In the face of decades of such unrelenting oppression, Palestinian civil society has called upon people of conscience throughout the world to take a stand in support of their struggle for freedom and the realization of their inalienable human rights by boycotting Israeli academic and cultural institutions. Virtually all Palestinian filmmakers, artists and cultural figures stand behind this call to non-violent action as have many international figures such as filmmakers Sophie Fiennes, Ken Loach, Haim Bresheeth, Jean-Luc Godard and Jenny Morgan , writers John Berger, Arundhati Roy, Amiri Baraka, Naomi Klein, and Eduardo Galeano, and musicians Brian Eno and Leon Rosselson. In 2009 the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), issued a statement requesting an international boycott of CoPro events for the reasons stated above.
The cultural boycott is directed against institutions supported by the Israeli state. Hot Docs has a long and impressive tradition of programming the best of both Palestinian and Israeli progressive documentary cinema (such as “Arna’s Children”) – films which are committed to social justice and share our critique of the Israeli state. This tradition should, of course, continue. We are calling on Hot Docs, and their documentary filmmaker partners, to refuse collaboration with institutions, like CoPro, which are supported by the Israeli state. We are not calling for a boycott of Hot Docs. We are encouraging Hot Docs to find alternative ways of engaging both Palestinian and Israeli progressive forces, while bypassing the Israeli state, in a principled stand of cultural solidarity.
We are asking filmmakers, artists, organisations and individuals to write to Hot Docs Executive Director Chris MacDonald at email@example.com and demand that Hot Docs stop working with cultural institutions supported by the Israeli state. A sample letter can be found here.
Please send a copy of your letter to:
Elizabeth Radshaw – Hot Docs Forum and Market Director at firstname.lastname@example.org
and to CAIA at email@example.com