antisemitism,  Israel

BDS: Dubai and South Africa

Here’s news of two disturbing cases of BDS in action.  The first is more uncertain, as Elder of Ziyon is now reporting that the International Federation of Television Archives (IFTA) is denying it has discriminated against Israel, so I’ll look out for further updates on the story.  But what has been claimed is that the creators of ‘Israel: A Home Movie’ were told their film had been dropped from an international film competition because Dubai, where the awards ceremony is to take place, has no diplomatic relations with Israel:

…Two months ago Bernstein was officially informed that the film, which is known as “Kach Ra’inu” in Hebrew and directed by Eliav Lilti, had made it to the finals. A jury chose it as one of the nine best movies and the film was in the running in the “Preservation and special use of archival material” category, against two competing movies. The notice invited the filmmakers to attend or send a representative to the October 26 award ceremony. The ceremony is held in a different country every year, and Dubai was chosen as this year’s location.

However, two weeks ago Bernstein was informed that the invitation had been withdrawn and his film had been removed from the competition. “This is an international organization of which Israel [through the state broadcaster Channel 1] is a member,” Bernstein said Thursday. “The total disqualification of the film followed pressure from the authorities in Dubai, which are hosting and funding this year’s conference,” he said.

The second case relates to protests from supporters of BDS South Africa at a concert given by Israeli musician Daniel Zamir at Wits University.  Although some protestors were peaceful, others were aggressive:

“You have the blood of Palestine children on your jersey,” shouted a protester to a woman who was walking in to the concert area.

“ You have blood on your hands. You think you can use our university to cleanse your image,” said another protester.

And some were unambiguously antisemitic:

At some point the protesters threw papers at concert attendees as they arrived. They also sang, “dubula e juda” (“shoot the Jew”), and chanted “there is no such thing as Israel” and “Israel apartheid” as the concert attendees were coming in.

Muhammed Desai, co-ordinator of BDS South Africa, could have roundly condemned these chants, or at least distanced his group from them.  But instead he tried to excuse them:

Desai said many African people in South Africa when using the word “Jews” meant it in the same way they would have during the eighties. “Just like you would say kill the Boer at funeral during the eighties it wasn’t about killing white people, it was used as a way of identifying with the apartheid regime”.

He said there was no evidence of Jews being harmed because of anti-Semitic impulses, – “the whole idea anti-Semitism is blown out of proportion”.  He said if there were anti-Semitic sentiments they would flatly challenge it even if it came from within their protest.

The ‘kill the Boer’ song has been judged hate speech by South Africa’s high court.  And I’m not sure at what point someone who doesn’t think ‘kill the Jew’ is antisemitic would start to ‘flatly challenge … anti-Semitic sentiments’.

Some BDS supporters have condemned Desai’s comments.


Thanks to Paul M, for locating this message (tucked away under an invitation to ‘read this message from Jan Muller’ in very small font!) from the President of FIAT/IFTA:

Recently FIAT/IFTA has been involved in a political discussion both within and outside the network with respect to FIAT/IFTA Archive Achievements Awards; annually given to the best archival productions in the world.

Due to political tension in the region, one of the nominees this year, IBA TV and Mr. Bernstein, director of ‘Israel: A Home Movie’, is not able to attend this year’s World Conference.

FIAT/IFTA deeply regrets this.

Nevertheless, FIAT/IFTA wants to emphasize its independency. FIAT/IFTA is a professional federation, without political or religious connections. It is not in the position to be involved in political judgments, neither will we issue political statements, opinions and comments.

I8A TV’s and Mr. Bernstein’s work is respected by FIAT/IFTA. As his nomination for the Archive Achievements Awards will be respected. At the conference his work will be brought to the attention; and since he cannot attend the ceremony, FIAT/IFTA decided not to award a prize in this category when his entry turns out to be the winning one. In that case, at next year’s conference in Europe, Mr. Bernstein will be invited to climb the stage and celebrate his work with the community.

Jan Muller, President of FIAT/IFTA.

This is an embarrassing (as well as embarrassed) equivocation from Muller.  Some effort is, in a sense, being made to compensate for the injustice of Bernstein’s exclusion, but refusing to put up with Dubai’s stance wouldn’t really amount to making a ‘political judgement’ – or at least, if you are going to stretch the term ‘political’ in that way then meekly going along (more or less) with Dubai’s bigoted treatment of Bernstein must itself be seen as a ‘political judgement’.

Hat tips: Adam Holland and Harvey