Israeli College Cancels Screening by Peace Group After Right-wing Activists Protest

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A public forum for Zochrot in Haifa 2015.
A public forum for Zochrot in Haifa 2015.Credit: Rami Shlush

Oranim Academic College has cancelled the screening by an Israeli leftist organization of two films that was scheduled for Friday, under pressure from right-wing activists.

The screening by Zochrot, part of the Sheikh Abreik Festival, was to be held at a community center near the northern Israeli town of Tivon, but it was moved to the college after pressure from right-wing activists led the community center to withdraw permission.

Zochrot is an Israeli organization whose main goal is to raise awareness among Israelis of the Palestinian Nakba, or catastrophe, their term for Israels War of Independence and the flight or expulsion of some 700,000 Palestinians in 1947-48.

The two films are Khirbet Khizeh, a TV movie by Ram Loevy based on the S. Yizhar novel, and Dani Gals Imagined Midya, which relates to Loevys film.

Other peace organizations, including Women Wage Peace and Combatants for Peace, will present films at the festival.

The President of Oranim Academic College, Yaarah Bar-On, said that she withdrew the invitation after receiving complaints that allowing Zochrot to present its program would constitute support for the global boycott, divestment and sanctions mvement.

Zochrots primary work is with the Israeli public. We work with Israeli institutions, so it is a little strange to claim we support BDS, Yael Messer of Zochrot told Haaretz. Our website also says nothing directly about boycotting Israel. We are a registered nonprofit in Israel, and these are our activities. Right-wing activists delegitimize us by saying we support the boycott of Israel or the return of Palestinian refugees. We do this among the Israeli public and not outside it. Right-wing activists dont want this voice to be heard. Our voice speaks of the Nakba and calls for taking responsibility for it, she said.

In a conversation with Haaretz, Bar-On said the college withdrew permission for Zochrot in light of the storm surrounding the organizations participation and the fact that the festival was not intended for the Oranim community.

We werent given time to study the components of the event and the organizations conduct, Bar-On said, adding, We would be happy to consider inviting Zochrot as part of an academic event that we organize and can take responsibility for.

In a response, Zochrot said that to ignore the Nakba is to ignore the foundation of Israeli society. The surrender of cultural and educational institutions to rightist pressure is part of a racist policy that favors one people over another.

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