Israeli ambassador to skip Paris film festival over screening of ‘Foxtrot’


An Israeli soldier does a mock dance with his rifle in “Foxtrot.” (Sony Pictures Classics)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s ambassador to France will not attend the opening night of an Israeli film festival in Paris which will screen the controversial film “Foxtrot.”

Ambassador to France Aliza Ben-Nun reportedly had asked the festival organizers to choose a different film, saying it “hurts the feelings of some in the Jewish community,” but was rebuffed, Haaretz reported. The Foreign Ministry is a sponsor of the festival, and had transferred the money to the festival before the opening night film had been selected.

Israel’s culture minister, Miri Regev, returned on Sunday from a visit to Paris. During the visit she met with Ben-Nun to discuss a project to promote cultural connections between Israel and France, and became aware of the scheduled screening of “Foxtrot.” She is now pressuring the Foreign Ministry to withdraw its funding.

“Foxtrot” centers on parents’ grief for their son who is killed during his service in the Israel Defense Forces. A final scene in the film shows Israeli soldiers killing and then burying an Arab family.

Regev has blasted the film and has admitted to not seeing it.

“It is inconceivable,” Regev has said, “that movies which shame the reputation of the Israel Defense Forces … and that are supported (financially) by the state …  are selected to showcase Israel cinema abroad.”

It won the Silver Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival and swept the Ophir Awards, Israel’s version of the Oscars, with eight wins.