Police sue to stop pro-Palestinian protest at Jewish film festival

Marcy Oster

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – Police in Sydney launched a legal bid to stop a pro-Palestinian protest at the opening of the Israeli Film Festival.

Members of the Palestine Action Group are listed for a hearing Monday in the Supreme Court of New South Wales ahead of their planned protest outside the cinema on Aug. 21, officials claim.

The Guardian Australia reported it had seen the summons served to Damian Ridgwell, a founder of the group. New South Wales police have made an application under the Summary Offenses Act 1988 to “prohibit the holding of a public assembly,” according to the report.

Police declined to comment Sunday.

“This is an outrageous act of political censorship,” Ridgwell said in a statement. “It is legitimate to protest the event, and by attempting to ban the protest the NSW police is denying our freedom of expression and right to protest.”

The poster for the protest accuses the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange, which organizes the festival, of being a “front organization for the ruling Likud Party and supports their recent massacre in Gaza.”

Albert Dadon, the founder and chair of the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange, said protesters were invited “in peace” to come and watch “Self Made,” the opening -film about two women – one Israeli, the other Palestinian.

“They will be surprised to see that their views and their way of life are actually reflected in Israeli society – the only true, tolerant and democratic society in the Middle East,” Dadon said.

“We are a cultural group promoting Israeli and Australian culture in their diversity, as well as peace and harmony between Jews and Arabs,” he said. “We have held past festivals in Nazareth and Um al-Fahm but also in Sderot and Jerusalem.”

The Israeli Film Festival is in its 11th year, and will also screen in Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and Byron Bay.