Palestinian queer groups and their allies in the BDS movement gave a call last year to boycott the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival, asking international filmmakers to withdraw their films from it.The TLVFest is sponsored by Israeli ministry of Culture and other entities deeply complicit in violations against Palestinians and international law. It is a platform for Pinkwashing- Israel's cynical use of LGBT rights to distract world attention from its crimes against Palestinian people.
Respecting this appeal, a wave of cancellations hit the TLVFest last year. This year as well five participants have already withdrawn from it.This year, an Indian director's film is part of the TLVFest Indian queer groups approached her reconsider this decision. Upon receiving no response, they put together this open letter, joining the Palestinian queers' call to boycott TLVFest. Read the full letter here:
We are writing to you to express our concern over your participation in the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival, taking place between 31st May and 9th June, 2018. Your film, Naughty Amelia Jane, features as an Indian entry on the schedule. Palestinian queers and their allies in the BDS movement have called for a boycott of this year’s TLVFest, and we as Indian LGBTIQA+ organisations and community members/activists respect and endorse this call. We would like to share with you what brings us to this decision.
TLVFest is one among the many concerted efforts of Israel to distract the world from its violations of Palestinian human rights. The Ministry of Culture, which is one of the sponsors for this fest, launched the Brand Israel project in 2005 to systematically use art and culture to whitewash the reality of Israel’s illegal occupation, apartheid and colonisation of Palestinian lands and people. TLVFest is a platform for Pinkwashing- Israel’s cynical use of LGBTIQA+ rights to appear progressive while it kills, maims and denies fundamental rights to Palestinians. Just in the last couple of months, Israeli forces have killed over 100 and injured thousands of people in Gaza, most of whom are refugees, as they marched demanding their UN-mandated right to return to their homes. In this context, it is even more urgent that artists and cultural practitioners do not allow their work to be used as a tool by Israel to cover up for this massacre.
Artists and directors associated with the LGBTIQA+ movements have been cancelling participation in the TLVFest as a mark of protest against Israel’s Pinkwashing, and as solidarity to Palestine. While last year, a wave of cancellations hit it, this year the Brazilian trans performer and activist Linn da Quebrada is joined by directors from Brazil, France and Pakistan’s Aks International Minorities Festival in respecting the Palestinian queers’ call to boycott the fest. In other aspects of art and culture, the Palestinian call for cultural boycott of Israel is growing. This year, the artistic director Portuguese National Theatre, Tiago Rodrigues, cancelled his participation in the Israel Festival. Last year, an Indian theatre artist refused to participate in the same festival. The call for cultural boycott has been endorsed by several notes figures such as Roger Waters, Mira Nair, Ken Loach. India has its own campaign for academic and cultural boycott of Israel since 2010. The consensus on refusing to help mask Israeli apartheid, occupation and colonialism through art is growing strength by strength.
Many of us from the Indian LGBTIQA+ movement respect this call and are dedicated to fighting pinkwashing. Our fight for equality and justice is deeply connected to the Palestinian freedom movement. It is morally unjustifiable for us to let our struggle be co-opted by Israel to cynically use is it as a propaganda tool. Our struggle in fact stands squarely in opposition to it. We therefore urge you to reconsider your decision to participate in the TLVFest. Join us and respect the Palestinian picket line, Risheeta.
Karnataka Sex Workers Union
Alternative Law Forum
Me and My World
Meena Saraswathi Seshu, Activist
Aarthi Pai, Lawyer
Rituparna Borah, Queer Feminist Activist
Nishagulur, Trans Activist
Arpan Kundu, Research Scholar
Moulee, Queer activist
Pushpa Achanta, Journalist
Maya Sharma, Activist
Rajesh Umadevi, Activist
EswarAruru , Transperson