100 anos de Tel Aviv – Boicote ao Festival de Toronto

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Comemora-se este ano os 100 anos da fundação de Tel Aviv, cidade portuária, próxima à multi-milenar Jaffa. Tel Aviv foi uma das primeiras cidades judias a ser fundada na Palestina, logo após o início da imigração ashkenazi para a Terra Santa. A “colonização” ashkenazita da Palestina foi favorecida pela compra de terras de proprietários árabes absenteístas. No entanto, Tel Aviv só obteve importância na eclosão revolta palestina de 1936, quando os palestinos aderiram a uma greve geral contra o mandato britânico e a imigração judia. Foi a oportunidade que os judeus tiveram para colocar em prática a ideologia do “trabalho judeu”, isto é, nas propriedades judias, somente os judeus poderiam trabalhar, o que significava que os ashkenazitas buscavam criar uma sociedade de classes exclusivamente judia, o “Estado judeu”, deixando implícito a ideia de limpeza étnica na Palestina. Com a greve dos palestinos, que não tardou em se transformar num levante nacional, o porto de Jaffa foi paralisado, no que os judeus aproveitaram para dinamizar o porto de Tel Aviv, que passou a substituir o porto palestino. O levante foi massacrado pelos ingleses, com apoio dos sionistas e com o silêncio dos árabes, em 1939. Mais de 5 mil palestinos foram exterminados, outros 10 mil foram presos ou deportados. Os palestinos foram proibidos de portarem armas, ao contrário dos judeus. Abria-se, com isto, o caminho para a Nakba (a catástrofe) de 1948.
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Em virtude do aniversário de Tel Aviv, a edição deste ano do Festival de Cinema de Toronto (Canadá) resolver homenagear a cidade israelense centenária, com a exibição de inúmeros filmes israelenses. Tudo ia bem até uma carta assinada por atores e cineastas americanos (muitos de origem judia), ingleses e israelenses para convocar a classe artística a boicotar o festival canadense pelo fato da homenagem a Tel Aviv não respeitar o sentimento do povo palestino, em decorrência da invasão e de ocupação de territórios palestinos pelos israelenses.
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A carta foi assinada pelos atores Danny Glover (Máquina Mortífera), Natalie Portman (israelense), Sacha Baron (o Borat), Udi Aloni (cineasta israelense), Lisa Kudrow, Jerry Seinfield (comediante), Naomi Klein (jornalista), Jason Alexander, Ken Loach, entre outros, incluindo, surpreendentemente, a atriz Jane Fonda.
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Nos anos 1960, Jane Fonda posou para uma foto ao lado dos vietcongues durante a Guerra do Vietnã, sendo odiada pelos soldados americanos, recebendo o título pejorativo de Miss Hanói (capital do Vietnã do Norte, comunista). Em 1977, Jane atuou ao lado de Vanessa Radgrave e Jason Robards, no filme Júlia. Radgrave ganhou o Oscar de melhor atriz pelo filme, mas na entrega do prêmio, nos agradecimentos, transmitido para bilhões de pessoas em todo mundo, homenageou os palestinos e a OLP (Organização para a Libertação da Palestina). Desnecessário dizer que a homenagem teve péssima repercussão em Hollywood para a atriz inglesa, que jamais ganharia outro Oscar, sendo marginalizada pelo cinema americano até que Tom Cruise a escalou para Missão Impossível (1996), quase 20 anos depois. Jane Fonda, entretanto, preferiu escolher outro caminho. Em 1982, quando Israel invadiu o Líbano, ela fez a mesma pose ao lado dos soldados, mas, desta vez, “do lado certo”, como disse a atriz americana na época, ou seja, ao lado dos israelenses. Outros atores americanos, como Sammy Davis Jr. e Kirk Douglas, também viajaram ao Líbano para homenagear os “bravos” soldados israelenses de Ariel Sharon que exterminaram mais de 20 mil árabes (libaneses, sírios e palestinos), em 1982.
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Jane Fonda assinou carta pedindo o boicote ao Festival que homenageia Tel Aviv, mas notícias recentes afirmam que a atriz americana voltou atrás no apoio ao boicote, pois não havia lido com cuidado o conteúdo do documento.
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A carta contrasta com o abaixo-assinado de 2006, onde inúmeros astros do cinema, TV e música dos EUA, tais como Nicole Kidman, apoiaram o “direito de defesa (sic)” de Israel no bombardeio ao Lïbano, no verão daquele ano.
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A carta de boicote ao Festival foi paga por organizações judaicas de Los Angeles e Toronto. O produtor de cinema Marvin Heir, um dos fundadores do Centro Simon Weisenthal, condenou o boicote, porém, afirmando que se trata de um “ataque ao coração a à alma de Israel”. O produtor disse que quem apóia o boicote é contra à solução de “dois Estados”, tendo, por isto, o objetivo de destruir Israel.
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O prefeito de Tel Aviv, por sua vez, negou que o Festival seja uma propaganda do governo de Israel.
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Mais informações nos sites abaixo:
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http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1114902.html
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Seinfeld, Sacha Baron Cohen and Natalie Portman slam Toronto Film Festival protest
By Natasha Mozgovaya and Itamar Zohar
Tags: TIFF boycott, Israel News
Jewish actors sign letter in L.A. Times and Toronto Star protesting boycott of festival over homage to Tel Aviv.

WASHINGTON – A number of Hollywood stars circulated a letter Tuesday protesting a petition calling for a boycott of the Toronto International Film Festival over a Tel Aviv-themed event.

The letter, which appeared simultaneously in the Los Angeles Times and the Toronto Star was signed, among others, by Jerry Seinfeld, Sacha Baron Cohen, Natalie Portman, Jason Alexander and Lisa Kudrow.

The letter, which was paid for by Jewish organizations in Los Angeles and Toronto, said, “Anyone who has actually seen recent Israeli cinema, movies that are political and personal, comic and tragic, often critical, knows they are in no way a propaganda arm for any government policy.”
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Film festival boycotters, which included culture critic Naomi Klein, and directors John Greyson and Richard Fung, said the Israeli films presented at the festival promote Israel’s recent publicity campaign, which seeks to show Israel and Tel Aviv as enlightened, liberal places, without conducting a dialogue on their treatment of Palestinians.

The Toronto festival’s management did not give in to pressure, and showed all 10 films in the City of City event, which spotlighted Tel Aviv. Among them were Ephraim Kishon’s “Big Dig,” Assi Dayan’s “Life According to Agfa,” and Keren Yedaya’s “Bride of the Sea.”

Meanwhile, Jane Fonda, who had initially opposed the spotlight on Tel Aviv at the festival, Tuesday released a statement that she had changed her mind.

“I signed the letter without reading it carefully enough, without asking myself if some of the wording wouldn’t exacerbate the situation rather than bring about constructive dialogue,” Fonda wrote on the huffingtonpost.com. She added that the suffering of both sides should be articulated.
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http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1112482.html
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Last update – 15:03 05/09/2009
Report: Jane Fonda joins boycott of Toronto film festival over homage to Israel
By Haaretz Service
Tags: Israel News, Danny Glover

Jane Fonda, Danny Glover and Eve Ensler have joined the growing list of artists who are boycotting the Toronto film festival over a program honoring Tel Aviv’s 100th anniversary, gossip blogger Perez Hilton reported on Friday.

The three have added their names to a letter aimed at festival officials claiming that Tel Aviv was built on violence, ignoring the “suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants,” Hilton reported.

Several Israeli films are being screened at the festival’s new City to City event, which this year celebrates Tel Aviv’s centennial.
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Culture critic Naomi Klein and director John Greyson are among those who had already announced their protest over the homage to Tel Aviv.

Two-time Oscar winner Rabbi Marvin Hier, who founded the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called the boycott “an attack on the heart and soul of Israel.”

“People who support letters like this are people who do not support a two-state solution,” he was quoted as saying on Hilton’s blog.

“By calling into question the legitimacy of Tel Aviv, they are supporting a one-state solution, which means the destruction of the State of Israel. I applaud the organizers of the festival for celebrating on the 100th anniversary of Tel Aviv. If every city in the Middle East would be as culturally diverse, as open to freedom of expression as Tel Aviv is, then peace would long have come to the Middle East.”

Fonda, 72, rose to fame as an actress in the 1960s, but has since become known for her political activism, including her opposition to the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

Glover, who is probably best known for co-starring with Mel Gibson in the four Lethal Weapon movies, has also been politically active since his student days. He made headlines in 2006 when he traveled to Venezuela with a group of celebrities to show solidarity with president Hugo Chavez.

Ensler, whose father is reportedly Jewish, is an American playwright and activist who wrote The Vagina Monologues.
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http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1112696.html
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Last update – 22:06 07/09/2009
Israeli filmmaker urges local artists to protest Toronto Fest
By Haaretz Service
Tags: Udi Aloni, Israel news

Left wing Israeli filmmaker Udi Aloni has called on top Israeli artists to step out of their “political closet” and protest the upcoming Toronto Film Festival over its spotlight on Tel Aviv.

Several Israeli films are being screened at the festival’s new City to City event, which this year celebrates Tel Aviv’s centennial. A growing number of American filmmakers, actors and influential voices have signed on to a petition to boycott the festival, claiming it was covering up the occupation and the plight of Palestinians.
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Aloni has directed his appeal specifically at directors Gal Uchovsky and Eitan Fuchs, whose film “The bubble” will be screened at the festival.

Uchovsky, a journalist and one of the judges on “A Star is Born,” and Fuchs, a film director and producer, are prominent activists in Israel’s gay community.

“The reason I chose to address you directly and publicly is, among others, the aggressive ‘outing’ campaign which you decided to run against Israeli celebrities during the large LGBT support rally in Tel Aviv last month,” Aloni wrote in his appeal to Uchovsky and Fuchs.

“Following the rally, I decided it was time for the political ‘outing’ of you two, addressing you once and for all with the question: Are you with us or with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs?”

Aloni urged the filmmakers to choose sides, stipulating that if they were to choose opposition to West Bank occupation, they should also sign the petition against the Toronto Film Festival.

Aloni called his petition a “challenge to an ideological debate,” following last month’s shooting at the gay center in Tel Aviv, which placed Uchovsky under the media spotlight as a leading spokesman for the gay community.

In his weekly column in Tel Aviv “Time Out” magazine, Uchovsky personally “outed” one of Israel’s top music performers. The column sparked many responses in Israeli media regarding the aggressiveness of Uchovsky’s “outing” campaign.

‘Just say no’

The petition to boycott the festival was drafted by an ad-hoc committee including Aloni, culture critic Naomi Klein and director John Greyson, who announced their protest over the homage to Tel Aviv.

Actors Jane Fonda, Danny Glover and Eve Ensler have also recently joined the growing list of artists such as Ken loach and Slavoj Zizek.
The three have added their names to a letter aimed at festival officials claiming that Tel Aviv was built on violence, ignoring the “suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants,” as reported on the Perez Hilton blog.

Two-time Oscar winner Rabbi Marvin Hier, who founded the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called the boycott “an attack on the heart and soul of Israel.”
“People who support letters like this are people who do not support a two-state solution,” he was quoted as saying on Hilton’s blog.

“By calling into question the legitimacy of Tel Aviv, they are supporting a one-state solution, which means the destruction of the State of Israel. I applaud the organizers of the festival for celebrating on the 100th anniversary of Tel Aviv. If every city in the Middle East would be as culturally diverse, as open to freedom of expression as Tel Aviv is, then peace would long have come to the Middle East.”
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http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1115032.html
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Last update – 17:51 16/09/2009
Tel Aviv mayor dismisses Toronto Film Festival protest
By Canadian Jewish News
Tags: Toronto Film Festival

TORONTO – The three-term mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai, chuckled as he dismissed a recent open letter that accused the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) of being “complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine.”

“Tel Aviv is a symbol of democracy, tolerance and openness, a city of arts and culture,” Huldai said in an interview with the Canadian Jewish News last week. “If this is propaganda, I’ll take the blame.”
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http://www.cjnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17634&Itemid=86
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Wednesday 16th of September 2009 27 Elul 5769

Uri Zohar portrays a womanizer
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Tel Aviv mayor dismisses film fest protest
By SHELDON KIRSHNER, Staff Reporter
Thursday, 17 September 2009
TORONTO — Ron Huldai, the three-term mayor of Tel Aviv, the world’s first Hebrew-speaking city, chuckled as he dismissed a recent open letter that accused the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) of being “complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine.”

Ron Huldai
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“Tel Aviv is a symbol of democracy, tolerance and openness, a city of arts and culture,” he said in an interview last week. “If this is propaganda, I’ll take the blame.”

Huldai, in Toronto on behalf of the Tel Aviv Foundation, was reacting to the so-called Toronto Declaration, which was drafted by a group of local residents objecting to the festival’s City to City program, which focuses on Tel Aviv as it marks its 100th birthday.

Decrying Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip last winter, the protesters said that they objected “to the use of such an important international festival in staging a propaganda campaign” on behalf of what they claimed was “an apartheid regime.”

Huldai said the City of City program was not affected by the protest and that all its tickets had been sold. “We’re still on the right track,” said Huldai, who attended a reception hosted here by Tel Aviv University’s department of film and television.

He said that while the City to City program was initiated by the festival, the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs was involved as part of its Brand Israel media and advertising campaign, which was launched last year.

Saying that the program was the first by a major film festival to focus on Tel Aviv, Huldai said its purpose is go beyond the Arab-Israeli conflict and show life as it really is in Israel today.

He added that neither he nor his staff met Cameron Bailey, its curator, during the visit to Israel to select the films for the program.

But Huldai bristled when he learned that Bailey, a co-director of the festival, had described Tel Aviv as “contested ground.”

“I have a problem relating to that,” said Huldai, a former combat pilot who has been mayor since 1998. “There is no dispute about the city of Tel Aviv. The founders of Tel Aviv bought the land. Only those who oppose Israel’s existence can speak that way.”

The 65-year-old mayor added, “Tel Aviv is a very vibrant, successful city which is celebrating its centennial with pride.”

In a jab at the protesters, he said, “Toronto exists on the grounds of an Indian settlement.”

Told that one of the organizers of the Toronto Declaration, writer and social activist Naomi Klein, is Jewish, Huldai said he was not surprised. “It was always in our history. I feel sorry for them.” Nonetheless, he noted that he respects freedom of speech.

Similarly, he respects the decision of Canadian filmmaker John Greyson to withdraw his documentary, Covered, from the festival on the grounds that Israel’s invasion of Gaza was “brutal.”

“He had a right to pull his film, but I don’t think it was the right thing to do. It’s his problem.”
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