Palestinian civil society condemns normalization film on Jerusalem and producers’ disinformation

PACBI | 29 avril 2013 | Occupied Palestine, 24 April 2013 – Faced with the widespread popular boycott in occupied Jerusalem of their ill-conceived film project, producers of “24h Jerusalem”….

PACBI | 29 avril 2013 |

Occupied Palestine, 24 April 2013 – Faced with the widespread popular boycott in occupied Jerusalem of their ill-conceived film project, producers of “24h Jerusalem” resorted to disinformation to justify their failure to convince key Palestinian personalities and filmmakers to participate in the film.

Palestinian civil society had called for a boycott of the German-produced project due to its attempt to project Jerusalem as a unified city under Israeli sovereignty and its deceptive normalization [1] of Palestinian-Israeli relations, covering up Israel’s illegal occupation, ethnic cleansing and apartheid policies in the occupied city. The enthusiastic support for the film by the Israeli occupation authorities, particularly in Jerusalem, reveals the project’s real objectives.

In thinly-veiled racist overtones, the German producers went [2] as far as accusing the Palestinians of connecting everything “to the conflict,” as if living under occupation were an irrelevant matter that should be set aside to allow his film to proceed, and alleged, without a shred of independently corroborated evidence, that the film crew had received “menacing” threats from activists to force Palestinians to withdraw, as if Palestinians lack the faculty of reason and the moral compass that enable them to detect a flawed political agenda in a project like this. These thinly-veiled racist remarks are typical smokescreens often used by international artists who insist on violating the Palestinian-led cultural boycott of Israel to divert attention from their complicity.

The Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement does not call for or condone the use of violence or violent threats in advocating for the boycott against Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid and upholding the boycott guidelines.

Key entities in Palestinian civil society have from the start criticized the project’s deliberate politicization of art. By presenting the colonized and the colonizers as if on par and by accepting, as a given, the current illegal status of Jerusalem as a united city under Israeli sovereignty, the film serves Israel’s political agenda, covering up the reality of Jerusalem as an occupied city where the indigenous Palestinians live under a severe system of apartheid.

When the film producers insisted on maintaining this normalization aspect in the film, most of Palestinian civil society felt this project undermines the Palestinian struggle and particularly Palestinian rights in Jerusalem.

We met with the Palestinian filmmakers who insisted on participating in the project despite its obvious agenda to share with them firsthand our concerns about the normalization nature of the film. We also offered to meet with the German producers to explain to them the cultural boycott guidelines and why we expect international artists and cultural entities to respect them, at the very least. We never received a response from the producers.

As to the claim that if Palestinians boycott the film they will be the biggest losers, it is easily refuted by the fact that a Palestinian official admitted being subjected to official German pressure to allow the film to continue, which underscores the propaganda value of this film for Israel and its most loyal European partner and funder.

Despite suffering under the horrors of Israeli occupation and being deprived of resources, Palestinian artists can do without international platforms that ultimately help Israel to whitewash its violations of international law. Insisting on artistic integrity and cognizant of their moral obligation to contribute to the struggle against Israel’s oppression, the great majority of Palestinian artists have endorsed the cultural boycott call and refuse to sell their principles in return for personal gains. Many accomplished Palestinian artists have in fact reached prestigious international fora and festivals and presented their art without censorship and without accepting an Israeli dominant agenda. Our rights and our principles are not for sale.

With international cultural figures as prominent as Roger Waters, Naomi Klein, Judith Butler, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, John Berger, the Yes Men, John Greyson, Alice Walker, and Iain Banks, among many others, endorsing the cultural boycott of Israel, it can hardly be argued that Palestinians insisting on their rights under international law risk isolation in the world.

Our struggle for freedom, justice and equality will continue unabated, and BDS will be at the center of it, along with other forms of popular resistance. We hope that those who do not yet possess the moral courage to support this struggle or are not yet convinced of its need should at least respect the voice of the majority of Palestinian civil society which calls for BDS and refrain from undermining it. This is one of the main lessons of the cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa that we take to heart.

General Union of Palestinian Writers

The Civic National Commission in Jerusalem

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

Palestinian Cinema Group (PCG)