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Monday, January 22, 2007

Berlin festival shuns Israel

Berlin festival shuns Israel

Officials funnel funds to events that have wiped Israel off the map
Eldad Beck Published:  01.21.07, 21:51
BERLIN - Does Germany indeed recognize Israel's right to exist? Officially, there have been diplomatic ties between the two countries for the past 41 years. German governments have reiterated their commitment to Israel's right to exist. In the corridors of power in Jerusalem, the mantra that Germany is Israel's second most important ally after the US is incessantly being sounded.
However, these facts are slow to penetrate the consciousness of significant parts of the German public, including government officials and the intellectual elite. Take, for example, the Berlin International Film Festival, which has been consistently undermining Israel's existence in recent years.
Political correctness still obligatory
The festival's management is careful, of course, to invite Israeli films to participate. After all, political correctness is still obligatory. However, those in charge of making the selections usually prefer more controversial films – preferably with an anti-Israeli tone, if not anti-Zionist. The controversy of several such films that reached the festival in recent years covered for the lack of cinematic quality.
 The war of attrition is continuing this year as well, despite the invitation of an Israeli film to the official festival after several years of absence from this prestigious event. The notification announcing the festival's official panel of judges noted that members would include "the Palestinian actress, film director and scriptwriter," Hiam Abbass, who starred among other movies in the controversial film Paradise Now, and in the problematic TV screenplay of The Gate of the Sun," where Zionists and Israelis were compared to Nazis.
Abbass, a talented actress, was born in 1960 in the Galilee – 12 years after the founding of the State of Israel. As far as I recall, the Galilee still belongs to Israel. Although Abbass has been residing in Paris for the past 20 years, she still holds Israeli citizenship. According to Abbas, she is maintaining her Israeli citizenship for reasons of convenience only – so that she can travel internationally – but as long as she carries an Israeli passport, she is deemed an Israeli citizen for every purpose and intent.
Is this true friendship?
Are these facts not clear to the organizers of the Berlin festival, which is also financed by governmental funds? Obviously not. Abbass has every right to define herself as she sees fit. However, the organizers of the event don't have the right to erase the State of Israel's existence.
Complaints leveled at the festival's conduct towards Israel have been rejected out of hand in the name of freedom of speech and art. Even government officials funding the festival are shirking responsibility lest they be accused of censorship. Yet despite this, we should no longer ignore the fact that Israel is being systematically erased throughout German cultural institutions.
 While spokespersons representing the Berlin government openly condemn the Iranian president's statement calling for "wiping Israel off the map," German government officials are funneling funds to public events that have already wiped Israel off the map, while replacing it with "Palestine." Is this true friendship?

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