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October 14, 2008

Boston Arts Scene’s Palestinian Propaganda Festival

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Palestinian films have falsely portrayed Israel as the culprit of the Palestinian refugee problem, portrayed terrorism as legitimate activity against Israel and miscast Israel’s security measures as “oppression.” What’s new is that these films have become wrapped in a cloak of heightened respectability thanks to the entanglement of established local entities as sponsors and presenters of Palestinian film festivals. The list of sponsors of the Boston Palestine Film Festival (Oct. 3-12) includes these members of the Boston area’s arts and academic communities: Department of Cinema Studies at Northeastern University, Coolidge Corner Theatre and Harvard Film Archive (HFA). The festival’s co-presenters are HFA and the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA).

Are the sponsors and presenters not concerned about such warning signs as the presence of at least one obsessively anti-Israel festival advisory-board member (Leila Farsakh), or the formal honoring of the festival in May 2008 by the notoriously anti-Israel American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)?


Among the festival’s approximately 55 films screened at various locations, one featured film is "SlingShot Hip Hop", which “follows [some] young artists as they grapple with the day-to-day physical boundaries imposed by the occupation, not to mention the more subtle forms of division that conspire to restrict their lives … from internal checkpoints and the Separation Wall …" The other featured film, "Bab al-Shams: The Departure" (135 minutes, 2004), "spans five decades, starting in the years just before the Nakba (or 'Catastrophe') when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes and land."

Several of the films deal with the theme of the Palestinian view of Israeli security measures. In addition to "SlingShot," this is the theme of shorts such as "Bethlehem Checkpoint, 4am" (2007) and "A Day In Palestine" (2007). However, such films tend to expose only the pro-Palestinian propagandized view of Israel's security barrier and checkpoints. But these security measures have saved many Israeli lives as a result of the dramatic decrease in suicide bombings. These measures have saved the lives of many Palestinians as well, since they have eliminated the need for large scale Israeli incursions into the West Bank to root out terrorists, as in 2002.

The Boston area’s main newspaper chimed in with an article promoting the festival while failing to scrutinize the questionable validity of the festival’s focus, which falsely blames the Palestinian refugee problem on Israel.

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Scene from "Slingshot Hip Hop"

Leslie Brokaw’s Sept. 28 Globe article, "Palestine festival’s date with history," said:

This year's focus is on the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, which the festival describes as "the expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948." The expulsion occurred during the establishment of the state of Israel.

Clearly, Israel is cast as a villain in this festival but Ms. Brokaw’s article constitutes a disservice to Globe readers, not only by failing to provide the necessary context to enlighten readers as to what the “Nakba” was really all about, but even more egregiously, by reinforcing, in her own words, the focus’s falsity that the establishment of Israel caused “the expulsion” of Palestinians. There is not a word in the article about the fact that the vast majority of Palestinians who fled in 1948 did so of their own accord or due to pressure from Arab leaders and propagandists. Likewise, no mention is made of the massive 1948 expulsion of Jews from Arab countries. As has been extensively documented, the number of these Jewish refugees actually exceeded the number of 1948 Palestinian “Nakba” refugees.

Ms. Brokaw would do well to read any of several CAMERA Web site articles which provide a balanced perspective of the “Nakba” such as the postings of August 6, 2008 and March 13, 2007 and May 31, 2006.

Posted by MK at October 14, 2008 10:21 AM

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