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Canadian filmmaker boycotts Tel Aviv's queer film fest

Canadian filmmaker boycotts Tel Aviv's queer film fest

Greyson protests Israel's actions in Palestine
Canadian filmmaker John Greyson is pulling his documentary Fig Trees from the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival to protest Israel's actions in Palestine. Yair Hochner, the artistic director of the festival, is surprised by the move and thinks that this boycotts hurts both Arab and Jewish queers.

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Comments

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
More and more entertainers are joining in on the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel - until the state changes its apartheid practices against the Palestinians. Kudos to Greyson and also to Roger Waters and his recent tour of the apartheid wall. He has said he won't play Israel again until the wall comes down. BooUrns to Madonna and Pet Shop Boys for playing Tel Aviv - they now are complicit in the suffering of thousands.
Discrimination.
Shows how he knows nothing about Israel other than what he sees through the biased reports of the media. There are no gay rights in Gaza nor in the majority of countries in the middle east, where homosexuals get hanged on the streets. Absolutely ridiculous.
Support Palestinian queers
I don't understand why criticizing Israel so often results in people comparing its record on LGBT rights to that of Arab countries. First of all, you can be good on LGBT rights and still suck at other things (like human rights of Palestinians). Secondly, why compare Israel to Islamic states? Palestine isn't an Islamic state because Israel doesn't allow it to form a state of any kind (not to mention a significant number of Palestinians are Christian). Maybe if Israel allowed Palestinians to live under a state instead of occupation, Palestinian queers would have a chance of fighting for some rights.
Please enter the Cairo Gay FIlm Festival...
...oh, sorry, there is no Cairo Gay Film Festival, since they imprison lgbt people and censor all film Hmmm, maybe you should try Jeddah. No, guess not huh. Amman? Maybe not. How about either of the Palestinian territories? I'm sure they would love to see your film. Or try Teheran. I know they will welcome you and then offer to provide you with sex reassignment surgery. Mr. Greyson - there are problems in Israel. Duh. Grow up and live in the real world.
politics vs honesty
I have always liked John Greyson's work... especially Zero Patience. However, I find it sad that he has allowed his political agenda to get in the way of admitting SOME of the facts. According to the French magazine Tetu,(directly quoting Palestinian gays themselves) Israel is on record as having given Palestinian gays refuge in Israel, since returning to Gaza or the West Bank could easily mean beatings, torture or even death - sometimes at the hands of their own parents. The very fact that Israel has been willing to give refuge to its enemies' children points out that it is HARDLY the "apartheid" régime that the leftist press would have us believe. Greyson says "What about the gay rights of those killed in Gaza?"; but Israel didn't kill anyone because they were gay... that can be left up to the Palestinians themselves to do! A little logic would be nice here, John! As far as I'm concerned, pointing fingers in only ONE direction will never solve the Palestinian issue. Hamas is brutal - not only towards Israel, but to anyone within Gaza who doesn't accept THEIR way of seeing things. When some Palestinians pointed out(on French television that Hamas was using hospitals and schools as shields (and were therefore partly responsible for the civilian deaths) - they had to do so anonymously for fear of reprisals. When a Palestinian explained that the death toll published by Hamas in one highly-reported incident was twice the real figure - he got a threatening visit immediately from Hamas. Why is is so hard for Greyson and others to admit - and perhaps even protest - the thuggery on the other side? And if we are going to talk about GAY RIGHTS... well, I'm sorry, but Israel wins hands down in that division. That Toronto's major gay activists are joining the enemy who would - once Palestine is "freed" - immediately repress any and everything homosexual in Palestine is the height of absurdity!
Good on Greyson!
I'm glad to see Greyson take a principled stand on this issue. Human rights are human rights, and we can't start dividing our movement for rights from other movements. Alex: Greyson answered your question in the first few seconds of his video. We've been trying dialogue and engagement for over 30 years, and look where it's gotten us! Israel continues to expand its illegal settlements, build a wall that has illegally redrawn the borders of Israel/Palestine -- encircling villages to create open-air prisons, and recently in Gaza we all know what happened. As Greyson said, your arguments were the same ones used against a South African boycott. The reason why boycotts work is because they force a country to feel the effects of its actions. It's completely non-violent, so I support this tactic. Naomi Klein, the prominent Jewish Canadian writer, has written a great sort of FAQ on this boycott that responds to a lot of these criticisms. You can read it here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jan/10/naomi-klein-boycott-israel Anyway, I'm glad this discussion has started in the queer community. Whether you support a boycott or not, it's raising our consciousness of what's going on around the world. (The comments about El-Farouk Khaki above I don't understand, though. Anyone who knows the work he does both professionally and as an activist, knows that he is outspoken against homophobia in Islam and in Islamic countries)
Israel has acted abominably
Israel has acted abominably (and this week is no exception with their continuing policy of settlements in contested areas and resistance to Obama's push), and I can support a "principled stand" but I'm not sure how this (or academic boycotts of Israel for that matter) really help. How does cutting contact with other queers/liberal intelligentsia in any way move things forward? Where there is a chance for dialogue, at a film fest or a university conference, should that not be encouraged? I also despise 'queers' who rationalize a protest alongside those who hold signs supporting Hamas or Hezbollah. Many countries of the Islamic world are the worst places on earth to be openly gay or lesbian. Israel should not be shielded, but I think Mohammed perhaps overstates the case somewhat, and I would like to know which "we" he refers to in "we do not shy away." Salaam perhaps? True. Salaam is great. But many other groups out there are virulently anti-Israel while remaining mum on human rights abuses in the Muslim world. City councillor and former activist Kyle Rae was scheduled this spring as the key speaker at an urban affairs/developers conference in Abu Dhabi in the UAE - and there they forcibly arrest and treat 'queers' and have the death penalty on the books for homosexual acts. That went uncommented on by anyone, to the best of my knowledge, El Farouk and Xtra included.
The state of Israel is the real hypocrit
Kudos to John Greyson for taking a principled stand against occupation and apartheid in Palestine. If the state of Israel wants to hold itself out as a Western style liberal democracy, then it should be judged against this standard. In no other modern democracy would we permit racist, illiberal and authoritarian actions by state actors, yet the international community allows for all this and more to happen in the Occupied Territories. Why? Because we have come to accept the racist logic that Palestinians only understand the language of force, and are not worthy of rights. For those who point out that homosexuality is criminalized under Islamic law, and is not accepted in Muslim culture, I couldn't agree with you more. That is why El-Farouk Khaki and the queer Muslim organization that he founded, Salaam, have been criticizing the actions of Muslim governments and working towards progressive reform within Muslim communities since 1993. Mr. Khaki stands for the principle that human rights are universal, and Israel should not be shielded from criticism, just as we do not shy away from challenging the criminal excesses of Muslim states with respect to queers.
Simple-minded hyprocrisy
I'm a fan of Greyson (despite his most recent movie, Fig Trees) and I would have expected a more reasoned response from a university professor. His boycott and association with Queers Against Apartheid is mind-bogglingly foolish. While I support efforts to establish a Palestinian state, framing the argument to suggest queers are somehow welcome allies in their struggle is hypocrisy. In most parts of the middle east, you're more likely to be lynched for being gay than you are to be praised. Being an immigration, QAA mouthpiece El-Farouk Khaki should know this. Israel is an oasis for LGBT rights in the black pit of Islamic hate. Sadly, people like Greyson only see only some crimes and not others.
They're better off
Fig trees was an over-indulgent, excruciating film to watch. Saw it an Inside Out, and was one of my biggest disappointments, having enjoyed some of Greyson's previous work. Where he had a wonderful opportunity to tell the stories of two important men, Greyson's operatic overlays and singing squirrels seemed more important to him. The queers of Tel Aviv are better off without it.
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