Israeli filmmaker rejected from Oslo festival due to boycott of Israel

Ben Sales

(JTA) — A film by Roy Zafrani, an Israeli filmmaker, was rejected from an Oslo film festival because it dealt with Israeli subject matter but did not address the Palestinians.

The film, “Other Dreamers,” is about disabled children in Tel Aviv. The film was rejected last week from the Human Rights Human Wrongs festival, which screens political documentaries, according to the New York Times, because it concerned Israel but did not deal directly with Israel’s occupation of the West Bank or discrimination against Palestinians.

Zafrani said he sees the decision as tied to the broader movement to boycott Israel, and opposes cultural aspects of that boycott.

“I think the larger issue is that there is a boycott — which I can understand and not understand,” he told the Times. “I’m not political. But I think we should suspend it for some things.”

The decision to boycott Zafrani drew criticism even from Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement, which encourages boycotts, divestment and sanctions of Israel. Barghouti said the boycott should target Israeli institutions, not individuals.

“Mere affiliation of Israeli cultural workers to an Israeli cultural institution is therefore not grounds for applying the boycott,” Barghouti wrote in an email to the Times. “If, however, an individual is representing the State of Israel or a complicit Israeli institution, or is commissioned/recruited to participate in Israel’s efforts to ‘rebrand’ itself, then her/his activities are subject to the institutional boycott the B.D.S. movement is calling for.”

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