Culture and the Right Hand of the State: Lessons from Filmbase’s “Israeli Film Days”

This piece by Raymond Deane, cultural officer of Ireland’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign, reposted from Irish Left Review, includes a useful discussion of how to apply the criteria for cultural boycott.

Image of the protest at Filmbase during “Israeli Film Days” courtesy of Broadsheet.ie.

Between 24-27 November 2011, the Government of Israel held “Israeli Film Days” at Filmbase in Temple Bar, Dublin’s “cultural quarter”. In advance of this event, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) requested Filmbase to reconsider its decision to host the festival:

“At a time when Irish peace activists have been illegally imprisoned in Israel after their humanitarian ship the MV Saoirse was hi-jacked in international waters by Israeli commandos, hosting these ‘Israeli Film Days’ sends out the worst possible message: that Filmbase is indifferent to its exploitation as a site of propaganda for the state that perpetrates such atrocities.  To cancel the event at this point would… be perceived worldwide as an honourable gesture of solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people who have called for an international cultural boycott of the Israeli state.”

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) also issued an “Open Letter to Filmbase“, expressing its surprise

“that a prominent Irish cultural institution would allow the Israeli embassy to carry out this audacious ‘Brand Israel’ activity on its premises hardly two weeks after Irish peace activists were illegally apprehended by the Israeli navy in international waters, humiliated, and imprisoned in Israel…”

These approaches were rejected by Filmbase, despite much dissension among its employees, not all of whom supported the decision to host the event.

Read more.

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