WILL NOT BE INSTRUMENTALIZED
TO WHITEWASH THE OCCUPATION
In July 2022, at the inaugural opening ceremony of the "Shomron (Samaria) Film Festival," a call was made to bring the Israel Academy of Film and Television "Ophir Awards" to the occupied West Bank.
The festival was supported and/or attended by Minister of Culture Chili Tropper, the heads of the Israel Film Council, the heads of the Rabinovich Film Fund, distributor Moshe Edery, and the Israel Screenwriters' Guild.
What stands behind this inaugural festival, as well as behind the recently-established "Shomron (Samaria) Film Fund," is not a love of culture but a politic aimed at erasing the green line and the distinction between military and civilian regimes [i.e. normalizing the settlements]. It is, therefore, not surprising that this political foundation is headed by Esther Allouche, spokesperson of the Shomron (Samaria) Regional Council, and Yossi Dagan, chairperson of the Shomron (Samaria) Regional Council. Both the foundation and the festival invite Israeli filmmakers to take an active part in whitewashing the occupation in exchange for production financing and prizes.
[** Shomron is the Hebrew word for Samaria – which is the Biblical name of the land currently known in the world as the northern West Bank. Referring to these areas as “Judea and Samaria” is a nomenclature developed and used by Israel's settlement enterprise and national religious movement.]
The establishment of the Shomron Film Fund was accompanied by statements regarding the need for diversity in the Israeli arts and the imperative of giving expression to marginalized voices. While this is a worthy goal, the term "diversity" becomes devoid of meaning when in practice it obfuscates systematic violence and serious violations of human rights. The Shomron Fund is not a pluralistic fund — it is part and parcel of the mechanisms of apartheid [**open to one ethnic group (Jews) and closed to another (Palestinians) living in the same geopolitical area (the occupied West Bank).]
Filmmakers bear responsibility for the image of the societies in which they live. In an ongoing reality of occupation, and a creeping process of annexation, we must draw a red line.
We, the undersigned, hereby declare that we will not cooperate with the Shomron Fund — neither now nor in the future. Not in its workshops, not in its selection committees, not in our filmmaking. Nor will we agree to hold the "Ophir Awards" in an area subject to military occupation.
We call upon the Israeli Academy of Film and Television, its leadership and members at large, not to turn Israeli cinema into yet another instrument in the oppression of the Palestinian people.