A New Front Against Israel Launched at Toronto International Film Festival

A New Front Against Israel Launched at Toronto International Film Festival

September 3, 2009

A new front against the very heart and soul of Israel has opened up in Toronto and I urgently ask you to give this your prompt attention.

Sixty-three actors, directors, and writers including some well-known celebrities from around the world have launched a protest against the organizers of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) which takes place September 10-19, 2009, because one of the evenings will showcase Tel Aviv as a “young dynamic city that, like Toronto, celebrates its diversity.”

The protesters say that by hosting this showcase, the 
Festival ignores the "fact" that, “Tel Aviv is built on destroyed Palestinian villages, and that the city of Jaffa, Palestine’s main cultural hub until 1948, was annexed to Tel Aviv after the mass exiling of the Palestinian population,” ... and that the festival is ignoring, “the city’s past and the realities of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip” adding, “we object to the use of such an important international festival in staging a propaganda campaign on behalf of what South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and UN General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann have all characterized as an apartheid regime.”

As soon as we became aware of this, the Center contacted the Festival Organizers to thank them for their wonderful initiative and then added this statement by Rabbi Marvin Hier, SWC Dean and Founder:

As a filmmaker and member of the Academy, I can tell you that this is nothing less than a call for the complete destruction of the Jewish State. There can be no other interpretation when the legitimacy of Tel Aviv is called into question. If every city in the Middle East would have the cultural diversity, the freedom of expression, and treat its citizens, Jews and Arabs, the way Tel Aviv does, peace would have come to the Middle East long ago.

Israel is accused of being an apartheid state because it did what every other country in the world would do – defend its citizens against an eight month rocket barrage launched by Hamas terrorists. Let’s be honest, the signatories to this protest may have been filmmakers, authors, directors and actors, but it is clear that the script they are reading from might as well have been written by Hamas.

The Toronto protest is just the latest front in the war to demonize and undermine the very legitimacy of the Jewish state by religious organizations like World Council of Churches, diplomatic maneuvers at the United Nations, regimes like Iran, and academics on both sides of the Atlantic. We need your help as we stand on the front lines of this multi-dimensional struggle.

Click here to see the declaration by the protesters and the list they claim have endorsed their campaign.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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