When the boycotters are boycotted
all the demons are out dancing ...
The following is (an unauthorized) translation of a part in a recent article by Ben Dror Yemini. It concerns the question of boycotts and what seems to be a double standard in certain Israeli media when it comes to upholding the principle of Freedom of Speech:
"Mohammad Bakri, the man who manufactured and keeps distributing a blood libel against Israel, called “Jenin, Jenin”, was invited two years ago to present one of his films at the Israel Film Festival in Paris. The festival was supported by the Israeli embassy in France, that is, by the Foreign Office. Culture Minister Limor Livnat made a speech on the occasion. Many of the invited artists were not Likud supporters. We are talking Ram Levi, Ronit Alkavetz, Benny Torati, Sekander Copti, Ari Fullman, Eiran Rickles, Yossi Sidar and others. Some of them are actually members of the anti-Zionist camp. But Israel, true to her genuine democratic ethos, does not snub her maligners. They are still her children.
Charlie Zerihan, the Festival organizer, told me this week in Paris that Bakri was supposed to arrive but at the last minute he demanded an extra flight ticket. This somewhat strange request was rejected and the man did not arrive. And then, on the eve of the opening of the Festival, Bakri became one of the initiators of the call to boycott the event. The pretext given was the participation of Culture Minister Livnat. The public call contained all the usual hackneyed arguments about the refusal to be part of the Zionist propaganda, the occupation and Apartheid state apparatus bla bla bla. Interesting, since the Bakri film slated to be screened was about the Nakba, from Bakri’s point of view. So let’s be accurate about it: the State of Israel generously finances the Palestinian propaganda machine. Bakri’s response? ‘"The whole story is manufactured and I have no comment”.
Let’s move to Tel Aviv. The extra-parliamentary group “Im Tirtzu” demanded that a play put on by “Tzavta” be banned because Mohammad Bakri participates in it. The Culture Minister permitted herself to express a critical view about Bakri*. The demand to ban the play elicited angry reactions, against Livnat as well, even though she said not one word in favour of the ban.
“Tzavta”’s general manager, Moshe Tene, clarified that we need to make a clear distinction between the criticism of “Jenin, Jenin” and the actor Bakri. This is a correct distinction. Except that this same Tene, according to the Uri Heitner’s blog, clarified in the past about “Tzavta”: “Here no Right wing people or settlers will ever find a place to congregate. Never. I will them the date is already taken”. This is our civilized and enlightened world. Against the boycotting of Bakri. For the boycotting of Naomi Shemer. As Heitner reminds us.
Let’s return to Paris. Bakri was not alone in his opposition. Across from the Festival location, a wild demonstration by scary Islamists was taking place. Some of the rioters managed to invade the building. They did not protest the occupation. Or human rights. This was a gang of bloodthirsty antisemites and racists who would have liked to carry out the massacre themselves. Bakri was not one of them. His blood libel against Israel, however, enthused them well. But do not worry. Next time he is invited, at the expense of the Israeli taxpayer, he will ask for an extra ticket.
To Bakri’s credit let it be said that even five extra first-class tickets would not have prevented his call for boycotting the Festival. Because if there is one thing he and his cohorts excel in, it is spitting into the same well from which they drink.
Nonsense, Ochovsky style
And still on the same subject. Gal Ochovsky, on his television show, conducted a terrible racist interview with Ronen Shoval from “Im Tirtzu”.** “You are such an Ashkenazi , he told him “with blue eyes”. And that really is wrong that this young man with his Aryan looks should behave like the barbarians and the Feiglins. In the mind of the enlightened Ochovsky in order to be a dangerous racist you need to be dark skinned, dark-eyed. Though, in fact, Feiglin has blue eyes, too. This won’t do any good. Ochovsky has solid opinions about blond blue-eyed people. For him they are über alles and that was just for starters. There was no interview there, only an unleashed fulmination, cringing support for and self-ingratiating to Bakri, the great actor, and analogizing “Im Tirtzu” to McCarthyism and the benighted thirties. So said the man who loves the Aryan look.
The problem does not spring from Ochovsky’s opinions. The problem is his shallowness. It was Bakri who called for a boycott against Israeli culture, and not just at the Paris Festival. Is there a chance that Ochovsky would turn Bakri into a Nazi or a McCarthyite? Not bloody likely. Ochovsky was one of those who aligned himself with the boycotting of Hall of Culture at Ariel. So there. He is for boycotts but will tag as Nazis ("The thirties”) those who call for boycotting Bakri.
It is all right for Ochovsky to have his own television program in which he sprays his agenda. Freedom of Speech and all that. How come, though, that there is not a similar television program which promotes the antithesis to Ochovsky?"
(Additional explanations provided by CC)
* "They have appealed to a person they see as their ally, Culture Minister Limor Livnat, and she has replied, as can be expected of a culture minister in a democratic society, that "the ministry, and of course the minister, cannot intervene in the artistic choices of cultural organizations supported by the ministry, even if they are controversial." However, she also said that "the ministry would expect the Tzavta administration to have exercised further independent judgment before putting on a production starring a person whose film was described by Supreme Court justices as slanderous calumny aimed at distorting reality in order to defame IDF fighters and depict them as war criminals."(Source)
** The interview is in Hebrew. The interviewer started the interview by expressing surprise that such a fair, blue eyed Ashkenazi lad, from a good home, would be a member at Im Tirtzu. Later on he yells at him that his call on Tzavta to withhold the stage from Bakri reminds us of the "thirties" in Germany. He takes it somewhat back later on, but then he refers to the interviewee as a monster, a McCarhtyite, etc etc.