Updated: Friday, 10th July 2020 @ 2:49pm

Jewish Film Festival boycott: Cornerhouse must 'reject Israeli donations'

Jewish Film Festival boycott: Cornerhouse must 'reject Israeli donations'

| By Sian Broderick

A pro-Palestinian group have written an open letter to Manchester cinemas involved in the Jewish Film Festival, urging them to pull out.

Manchester Jews for Justice for Palestine said although they welcome events celebrating Jewish culture and history, they oppose the festival accepting sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy. 

The activists claim that events sponsored by the Israeli State ‘implicitly support the militaristic, expansionist policies of that state'.

The group wrote: “By accepting sponsorship, it furthers the well-funded international propaganda campaign orchestrated by the Israeli state that makes the fraudulent claim that Israel and Israeli culture speaks for and in the name of all Jews. We challenge that claim.

“Events sponsored by the Israeli State implicitly support the militaristic, expansionist policies of that state. The statements of the organisers of The Jewish Film Festival in London, in response to criticisms of Israeli funding, show, even more clearly, the overt support for present day Israeli military policy," said the group.

“The receipt of Israeli sponsorship offers no choice for the many Jews in Manchester who want to enjoy current Jewish culture, but want to distance themselves from Israel’s wars and military occupation of Palestinian lands."

UK Jewish Film, the organisation behind the annual three week festival also hosts screenings in numerous cities across the globe, including Hong Kong for the first time this year.

Since the festival's inception back in 1996, they have had over 150,000 visitors, and exhibited work from filmmakers across more than twenty countries.

The group also added: “We also want to stand in solidarity with the call for boycott from Palestinian civil society. For 50 days in July and August Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip murdered over 2100 Palestinian people, mostly civilians. Over 500 were children.”

The Jewish Film Festival will run from November 6 - 23 and will be hosted by Manchester Cornerhouse, Cineworld Disdbury and Menorah.

TRULY GLOBAL: San Francisco's Jewish Film Festival has been running for 32 years and leads the way with over 1,300 films screened (© Steve Rhodes, with thanks)

But protesters are urging those involved to reject funding that could go towards helping those affected by war in Palestine.

“The relentless expulsion of Palestinians from their homes is increasing. Just last week, Israel  announced that a further 1000 Jewish Israeli housing units will be built on confiscated Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem, in defiance of the UN human rights committee. Yet a major film festival is taking funding from such a state?," said the protestors.

“Palestinians like any other groups of people deserve to live in peace.  Over 300 Jewish Holocaust survivors and their descendants wrote an open letter to the New York Times, in which they unequivocally condemned “the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine.”

It ended with a call to join the boycott movement. 

“We must raise our voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. ‘Never again’ must mean never again for anyone.”

All images courtesy of Steve Rhodes, with thanks