HOT DOCS, JUST SAY NO! TO BRAND ISRAEL AND ISRAELI DELEGATION
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival is “North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market”. As part of its 2012 Festival, Hot Docs is hosting official delegations from a number of countries and regions including Israel, which has a long history of violating Palestinian human rights and international law.
As part of the global movement in support of the rights of Palestinian people, we call on Hot Docs to end its collaboration with Israeli state sponsored institutions. The festival’s celebration of this delegation as an achievement for the progressive arts and film community does not erase Israel’s systematic and ongoing violations of human rights and international law. In the last year alone these have included:
* Ethnic Displacement Policies: 222 Palestinian homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem demolished in 2011 by Israel, displacing 1,094 people including 609 children under the age of 18.
* Military killings: 115 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in 2011,a full three years after the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008-09 when Israeli forces killed 1,390 Palestinians.
* Imprisonment and Collective Punishment: 4,386 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli prisons, including 320 held without trial in Administrative Detention, and 473 prisoners and their families currently affected by an absolute ban, in place since 2007, on all visits to prisoners from Gaza.
* Increased Illegal Settlement Activity: Approval for construction of 1,100 settlement homes in September, 2011 and approval of three settlement outposts just yesterday. The Secretary General of the United Nations reiterated yesterday that “all settlement activity is illegal under international law.”.
Hosting Israeli state-supported delegations is an act of whitewashing, not an occasion for cultural celebration. Israel’s state funded rebranding campaign deliberately attempts to “show Israel’s prettier face” as a means to hide these ugly facts. It involves pursuing partners to create venues that shift the focus from six decades of Israel’s deadly violations of international law to Israel’s achievements in medicine, science and culture.
Hot Docs’ 2012 delegation is implicated in Israel’s rebranding campaign, and it represents a troubling continuation of the festival’s institutional cooperation with Israeli state-funded organisations. In 2005 Hot Docs hosted “Spotlight on Israel”, a program which received direct sponsorship from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Consulate General of Israel in Toronto. And in 2011 Hot Docs sent an official delegation to Tel Aviv to participate in a co-production forum funded by the Israeli Film Council and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Despite Hot Docs statement that they “cannot endorse or oppose any one political position or cause”, their exchange of official delegations with Israel means they have effectively “taken sides”. Likewise, they have taken sides by ignoring the call to boycott Israeli state funded co-production organizations issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) in 2009 following Israel’s deadly war crimes in Gaza.
This complicity has not gone unnoticed. Members of the Palestinian community, filmmakers and the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid met with Hot Docs last year to ask that the festival respect the cultural boycott of Israel by ceasing to work with institutions supported by the Israeli state. And in a letter to Hot Docs opposing its 2011 delegation to Israel, 51 members of the film and arts community stated that “this trend of promoting Israel puts progressive filmmakers and artists who support Hot Docs in an increasingly compromised position.”
We are not calling for a boycott of Hot Docs, because we believe that Hot Docs can achieve its goal of supporting documentary filmmakers and expanding its co-production relationships without supporting Israel and other oppressive states responsible for human rights violations. As supporters of Hot Docs’ progressive ideals and of Palestinian human rights, we once again call upon the festival to end its collaboration and choose not to work with institutions sponsored by the Israeli state.
ONE MINUTE ACTION IN FIVE EASY STEPS
STEP 1: Cut and paste into subject line: “Hot Docs, Just Say No! to Israeli delegation
STEP 2: Cut and paste into body of e-mail (modify as you wish):
To the Co-Chairs of Hot Docs Board of Directors,
As a long-standing supporter of Hot Docs and a supporter for Palestinian human rights, I am writing to express my concern about your ongoing partnerships with Israeli state-sponsored institutions.
I understand that Hot Docs has invited an official Israeli delegation as part of this year’s International Co-Production Day, and that you sent an official delegation to Tel Aviv last year to participate in a co-production forum funded by the Israeli Film Council and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Last year 51 members of the film and arts community wrote to you stating their concern that “this trend of promoting Israel puts progressive filmmakers and artists who support Hot Docs in an increasingly compromised position.” As a member of the broader community who supports progressive venues for documentary film-making and cultural production, I share their concerns.
For all of these reasons I am asking that you reconsider your partnerships with Israeli state-sponsored institutions in the future, until Israel stops its violation of Palestinian human rights and conforms to international law.
Name, Affiliation, City, Country
STEP 3: Cut and paste addresses for Hot Docs Co-Chairs and Chris McDonald, Executive Director into To: line of your e-mail:
STEP 4: Cut and paste CAIA into “Bcc” line:
STEP 5: press Send
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