Re: Toronto Film Fest

From: Peter Rosen (email suppressed)
Date: Sat Aug 29 2009 - 09:29:07 PDT

Palestinians are terrorists
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

-----Original Message-----
From: Matt Helme <email suppressed>

Date: Sat, 29 Aug 2009 08:23:34
To: <email suppressed>
Subject: Toronto Film Fest

*Please Post Widely*

Protest Toronto International Film Festival City-to-City Spotlight on Tel Aviv:
TIFF Celebrating Israeli colonialism, ethnic cleansing and apartheid!

Dear CAIA allies and supporters,

We urge you to write to the Toronto International Film Festival protesting its
decision to Spotlight Tel Aviv for its inaugural City-to-City program. The
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)
issued a statement urging all filmmakers and audiences to boycott this
Spotlight on Tel Aviv. For the full PACBI statement please see:

As the PACBI statement points out:

“The ‘diversity’ celebrated by the Spotlight is in fact based on the
erasure of the physical presence of the Palestinians, their culture, heritage
and memory. The adjacent Palestinian city of Jaffa and numerous villages were
emptied of their indigenous inhabitants to make way for Tel Aviv. Many refugees
from Jaffa and other destroyed villages that Tel Aviv replaced reside in
Toronto today, denied the right to return to their homes.

Such a celebration at this time, therefore, can only be seen by Palestinians
and supporters of a just peace around the world as an act of complicity in
whitewashing Israel’s war crimes and other grave violations of international
law. It is a cynical and immoral politicization of the TIFF.”

Please send letters of protest to TIFF co-director and City-to-City programmer
at email suppressed

A sample letter is provided below, though it is always better to draft your own
original letter.

For more information please email us at: email suppressed

In Solidarity,
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid


Re: City-to-City Spotlight on Tel Aviv

I am writing to you out of my concern about the Toronto International Film
Festival’s City-to-City spotlight on Tel Aviv.

According to your website, the spotlight “will showcase the complex currents
running through today’s Tel Aviv. Celebrating its 100th birthday in 2009, Tel
Aviv is a young, dynamic city that, like Toronto, celebrates its diversity”.
Nowhere in this description of Tel Aviv is there mention of the fact that Tel
Aviv is built on destroyed Palestinian villages. In 1948, the inhabitants of
these villages were forcibly removed in order to make room for the city of Tel
Aviv. Today, many of the former inhabitants of these villages and Tel Aviv’s
neighbouring city of Jaffa reside in Toronto because they are refugees who have
been denied the right to return to their homes.

In addition to ignoring Palestinian history, the spotlight is also part of an
Israeli propaganda campaign known as ‘Brand Israel’. In 2008, Israel chose
Toronto as a test city for ‘Brand Israel’. This campaign is an effort by
the Israeli government to improve its image globally. The campaign’s goal is
to draw attention toward Israel’s medical, scientific and cultural
accomplishments in order to shift attention away from its numerous crimes
against the Palestinian people. The ‘Brand Israel’ campaign is a blatant
example of how Israeli cultural institutions play a vital role in whitewashing
Israeli war crimes. Israeli consul general Amir Gissin said that the
culmination of the campaign would be a major Israeli presence at the 2009
Toronto International Film Festival. Whether or not TIFF sees it this way, the
City-to-City program is being viewed by the Israeli state as an important
aspect of its international propaganda campaign.

This past winter the world watched in horror as Israel launched a full-scale
military assault on the people of Gaza. Over 1400 Palestinians were killed in
this attack, including over 400 children. TIFF showcasing Tel Aviv and Israel
is equivalent to the festival choosing to showcase Cape Town at the height of
South African Apartheid. It is simply unacceptable and inexcusable.

In support of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of
Israel (PACBI) statement calling for a boycott of the Spotlight, I will not be
attending any of these films and will be encouraging others to do the same. I
strongly urge TIFF to reconsider its celebration of Tel Aviv and Israel – a
state that has been described as an Apartheid regime by prominent figures such
as South African Bishop Desmond Tutu and former US President Jimmy Carter.


For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.