A pro-Palestinian film will be screened at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on Monday night, despite Israel's vehement opposition.
Delegates and envoys of member nations have been invited to view the debut of Miral, a film based on Palestinian writer Rula Jebreal's novel about an orphan girl growing up in East Jerusalem during the Intifada. The movie includes a number of scenes depicting Israel Defense Forces acting cruelly against the Palestinian population.
Swiss diplomat Joseph Deiss, the current president of the GA, had initiated the event and approved the screening in the plenum hall. Israeli diplomats had approached him and demanded that he rescind the plans, but Deiss denied their request on the grounds that the film was a story about peace.
In an interview with Haaretz, the deputy chief of Israel's delegation to the UN, Haim Waxman, called the whole matter a "scandal."
"This is a clearly political and one-sided film, which advances the Palestinian agenda," Waxman told Haaretz. "It is difficult to understand the intolerable ease with which the decision was made to screen a commercial film in the GA hall – something which it itself is unusual and unacceptable."
Waxman, who sent a letter of complaint to Deiss over the matter, called the matter a "severe incident" undertaken by "a very senior member of the organization's echelon, who by nature of his position is obligated to clarify irascibly and without bias the content which he chooses to present to the United Nations."
Waxman added that over the course of efforts to prevent the screening of the film, senior UN officials were asked whether they could remember any previous times when a political film was screened in the GA hall – and none could.
"We respect the filmmakers' freedom of expression, but it clear that this is an attempt to advance the Palestinian agenda," he said.
The fact that the film was being debuted in the GA hall meant that it would be given "central stage, again, to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which already receives too much attention at the UN," added Waxman.
Jubreal and the Jewish American director Julian Schnabel will take part in a panel discussion following the screening of the film.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now