This weekend was a busy one in Brighton. On Saturday there was a commemoration of the Naqba, the Catastrophe for Palestinians in 1947-8 when over ¾ million were expelled from what became Israel in order that Israel could become a ‘Jewish’ state without officially becoming what it is now, an Apartheid state.
There was a stall at the Old Steine and then a march and a 70 Years Naqba sign placed on the beach. On the Sunday night there was a picket of the Israeli Seret Film Festival which took place at the Brighton Komedia Centre. This included a number of people who went in and disrupted the beginning. The performance itself was only half full and that included a number of Zionists from Sussex Friends of Israel who had bought tickets.
There is another performance this Thursday and there will also be another picket at 17.30. It is not known if there will be any Palestinian supporters who will be going to watch!!
The history of what has happened has been told in many books and articles such as Ilan Pappe’s Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and Benny Morris’s The Birth of the Palestinian Problem Revisited. When I grew up as a Zionist we were fed the story of how the Palestinians were instructed to abandon their homes and villages in 1948 in order to allow the Arab armies to invade Israel. In fact over half the Palestinian refugees had already been expelled by May 15th when Israel declared its independence.
We were also told how the Zionists begged the Palestinians to stay and in particular how the Mayor of Haifa had pleaded with the Palestinians to stay. What we hadn’t been told was how the Palestinians in Haifa had been shelled and mortared by the Zionist terror militias and how the main such militia, the Labour Zionist Haganah had used loudspeakers to warn of a terrible massacre if any Arabs stayed. Such was the panic that many Palestinians drowned in the sea at Haifa Port when boarding the boats to take them to safety.
Of course it would have been impossible to form a racial Jewish state if there had been an Arab majority in it. In 1961 two researchers, quite independently of each other, Walid Khalidi and Erskine Childers conducted research which involved transcribing the CIA and BBC reports and tapes of the Arab radio stations of the period. What they found was that these radio stations instructed the Arabs of Palestine to stay and indeed threatened them with dire consequences if they left. There was no evidence of any instruction to leave, contrary to the Zionist mythology and yet a whole lie has been built on a myth constructed in order that Israel could avoid implementing UN Resolution 194.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) calls on all participants to withdraw from the Israeli government-sponsored SERET Film and TV Festival taking place in London, Brighton and Edinburgh, from May 6 – 17.
Israel’s decades-old regime of military occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid desperately needs such propaganda festivals to art-wash its egregious crimes against the Palestinian people. Israeli army snipers are implementing a deliberate shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy in Gaza, killing dozens and maiming thousands of peaceful Palestinian protesters — including children, journalists, women and young men praying — who are demanding nothing more than their UN-sanctioned rights. The International Criminal Court Prosecutor has warned that these murders may constitute war crimes.
Israel continues to demolish Palestinian homes, ethnically cleanse whole Palestinian communities, especially in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev), and lock up Palestinian children.
In response to Israel’s “atrocities” in Gaza, the Oscar-winning star, Natalie Portman, has boycotted a ceremony in Israel that would have honored her.
The SERET festival tries to falsely project Israel as “a melting pot of cultures, religions and social backgrounds,” rather than as an apartheid and colonial regime that has more than 65 racist laws discriminating against its indigenous Palestinian citizens.
|Rozanski (left) and Simon Cobbs with the camera|
This is straight out of apartheid South Africa’s propaganda playbook and illustrates the way in which Israel uses the arts in the explicit attempt to deflect growing condemnations of its violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.
|One of the vilest racists - Shaiki Rozanski, an Israeli security specialist|
In addition to Israeli ministries and diplomatic missions, the festival is also sponsored by racist, anti-Palestinian, Israeli government-backed agencies, including the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency. Both play a pivotal role in the strategic and operational planning of racist Jewish-only settlements at the heart of Israel’s illegal land grabs in the occupied Palestinian territory, and by Leumi Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, both of which finance Israel’s settlement expansion.
|Cobbs of SFI - playing with his|
Thankfully, people of conscience and supporters of social justice worldwide are seeing through the smokescreen. As Israel’s popularity continued to dip worldwide, thousands of artists, including filmmakers Mira Nair, Ken Loach, John Greyson, The Yes Men and Mike Leigh, have heeded the Palestinian call, refusing to allow their art to be used to conceal Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.
Last year, a wave of cancellations and boycotts hit Tel Aviv’s LGBT film festival over Israeli government sponsorship, with a total of fourteen filmmakers, actors and other artists withdrawing or, if unable to do so, declaring support for the boycott.
By not performing or exhibiting their work in Israel and by refusing to take part in Israeli government-sponsored events, artists send Israel a clear message that as long as it continues to deny Palestinian human rights, the cultural community won’t engage in business-as-usual relations with its regime.
PACBI, as part of the growing Nobel Prize-nominated Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, calls on filmmakers participating in SERET to withdraw from this blatant propaganda festival and urges people of conscience to boycott it in its entirety.
Help us pull back the curtain on Israel’s crimes and end the impunity that has allowed it to carry on its oppressive and criminal policies for decades. As a first step, refuse to take part in whitewashing them.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was initiated in 2004 to contribute to the struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. PACBI advocates for the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, given their deep and persistent complicity in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law. Visit PACBI at https://bdsmovement.net/pacbi and follow us on Twitter @PACBI