“Le petit soldat” dancing on Palestinian graves?

The following is a 25 May 2008 open letter to filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard endorsed by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and a list of Palestinian and Arab filmmakers:

Palestinian artists were devastated to learn that you shall visit Israel soon to participate in a film festival in Tel Aviv, despite Israel’s decades-old colonial and racist policies against the indigenous people of Palestine. Your visit, particularly at this time of intensified Israeli war crimes in Gaza, can only help Israel’s incessant public relations efforts in covering up its persistent violation of international humanitarian law and universal human rights. Taking part in this festival is not art separated from politics, as if it can be; rather, it is a crude politicization of art, allowing it to become complicit.

Palestinians expect someone with your history, moral commitment and consistent support for the causes of justice — from Algeria, to Vietnam, to Palestine — to stand in solidarity with us against occupation and apartheid, not to help whitewash both, whether knowingly or not. Did you ever go to an Afrikaner film festival in apartheid South Africa? Why Israel, then?

Participating in a festival in Tel Aviv now can only be seen in the wider context of Israel’s celebrations of 60 years since its establishment over the ruins of another country, Palestine. In the process of creating this state 60 years ago, Zionist forces dispossessed and uprooted more than three quarters of a million Palestinians from their homes and lands, destroying more than 500 of their villages, thereby condemning them to a life of exile and destitution.

Israel at 60 is a state that is still denying Palestinian refugees their UN-sanctioned rights, simply because they are “non-Jews.” It is still treating its own Palestinian citizens with institutionalized racism. It is still illegally occupying Palestinian and other Arab lands, in violation of numerous UN resolutions. In the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel is continuing the construction of its colonies and massive Wall in direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of July 2004. It is still persistently and grossly breaching international law and infringing fundamental human rights with impunity afforded to it through unquestioning US and European economic, diplomatic and political support.

In 2006, virtually all leading Palestinian artists and cultural figures have called for an international cultural boycott of Israel. To date, many prominent international cultural figures, including Ken Loach and John Berger, and some artists’ unions, like the Irish Aosdana, have heeded the Palestinian Call and shunned Israel, just as they had boycotted South Africa during the apartheid era.

Your visit to Israel would not only violate the Palestinian call for boycott, it would betray a regrettable double standard, if not a negation of your once fierce commitment to human dignity and justice. We hope that, even at this late stage, you will take a courageous stand and cancel your trip to Israel.

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