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A core group of largely Toronto-based Jewish filmmakers is accusing the festival of playing into “the Israeli propaganda machine” with its inaugural “City to City” program, which it says excludes Palestinian voices from the 10-film program.
The group is circulating a letter of protest and has drawn support from more than 50 artists around the world including American writer Alice Walker, Canadian writer and activist Naomi Klein, U.K. filmmaker Ken Loach and American actor Danny Glover.
“Looking at modern, sophisticated Tel Aviv without also considering the city’s past and the realities of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip would be like rhapsodizing about the beauty and elegant lifestyles in white-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during apartheid without acknowledging the corresponding black townships of Khayelitsha and Soweto,” the letter states.
The letter goes on to accuse the festival of being unduly influenced by the Israeli government’s year-long Brand Israel campaign, which it says is geared towards sanitizing Israel’s controversial political and military history.