Over 100 queer filmmakers have agreed not to participate in the Israeli Government-sponsored LGBTQI Film Festival over concerns of “pinkwashing” human rights abuses.

More than 130 people in the film industry from 15 countries have signed a newly established pledge committing to abstain from the 15th annual TLVFest, the Israeli government-sponsored LGBTQI film festival hosted in Tel Aviv.

Palestine’s queer community initially called for a boycott of the TLVFest due to its role in Israel’s pinkwashing agenda, which uses LGBTQI rights and representation to mask the Israeli Government’s violations of the UN-sanctioned human rights of millions of Palestinians.

Organised by grassroots Palestinian queer organisation, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and the cultural arm of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement, the pledge affirms that LGBTQI liberation “is intimately connected to the liberation of all oppressed peoples and communities.”

Those who signed the pledge have also vowed “not to submit films or otherwise participate in TLVFest”, or other Israeli Government-sponsored events “until Israel complies with international law and respects Palestinian human rights.”

 

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In the state of Palestine, political divisions and war have resulted in a fractured legal system where homosexuality is illegal in the Gaza Strip, but not in the West Bank. However, Palestinian Authorities banned any organised LGBTQI activities in the West Bank last year, with a police spokesperson describing them as “harmful to the higher values and ideals of Palestinian society.”

Furthermore, little protections are provided for LGBTQI people in Palestine, with reports of police intimidation and blackmail in exchange for acts of espionage including collecting information on other community members for law enforcement.

However, PACBI argues that queer Palestinian refugees are also treated poorly when seeking asylum under Israel’s current right-wing Government, led by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Palestinian refugees who enter Israel are typically subjected to abuses of human rights such as deportation and even deprivation of liberty while being kept under arrest for weeks or months.

Though support for LGBTQI rights and recognition is gaining popularity in Israel, lawmakers continue to block further advances of LGBTQI rights in the Jewish majority country.

Some of the most notable signatories  to the TLVFest boycott include Turner Prize winner Charlotte Prodger, Palme d’Or nominee Alain Guiraudie, award-winning Indian documentary filmmaker Harjant Gill and U.K.-based Touch of Pink director Ian Iqbal Rashid.

Other notable film scholars who have also signed the pledge include Alexandra Juhasz, Thomas Waugh, Alisa Lebow, Marc Siegel, Shohini Ghosh, So Mayer, Ingrid Ryberg and Michele Aaron.

Despite growing international condemnation against Israel’s continued human rights violations, Prime Minister Netanyahu managed to claim “a giant victory” in Israel’s third election,  after inconclusive votes in April and September dropped the Jewish state into political turmoil.

 

 

 

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