For several years now the Documentary Edge Film Festival has accepted sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy. This stance has put them at odds with Palestinian human rights organisations who argue that accepting funds from the Israeli government normalises a state with an appalling record of breaches of human rights and international law.
This year, in the wake of the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh, there have been even more urgent calls from the Palestinian community in Aotearoa for filmmakers and the public to boycott the film festival until it refuses the support of the Israeli Embassy.
The Palestinians in Aotearoa Co-ordinating Committee (PACC) asked organisers of Doc Edge 2022 to refuse the sponsorship deal only to have their request rejected. A spokesperson from PACC said,
“Doc Edge has the Israeli Embassy listed as a supporter at a time when Israel is unlawfully occupying Palestinian territory and subjugating Palestinians to a catalogue of human rights abuses.”
“We support the call from PACC to boycott Doc Edge. With regret, we won’t be attending any of their events,” said Neil Ballantyne, Co-Convenor of the human rights organisation Justice for Palestine.
In response to the request to refuse Israeli funding the Film Festival Chair, Glenn Johnstone, issued a statement claiming the festival was “apolitical” and that it would not agree “to censor content on the basis that a film takes a point-of-view with which the group disagrees.”
Commenting on the Doc Edge statement, Ballantyne replied that:
“Let me be clear, this isn’t some far left political agenda. Michael Lynk, the United Nations own expert on human rights in the Palestinian territories has stated, in a recent report, that Israel is an apartheid state and must be held to account by the international community.”
Commenting on the nature of documentary filmmaking, Chris Huriwai, activist and co-producer of the documentary “Milked”, said “The motivation of documentary-making is to help create a better world. The decision of Doc Edge to accept funding from an apartheid state goes against the very spirit of the festival. I urge filmmakers and members of the public to join me in boycotting Doc Edge until they stop accepting Israeli sponsorship.”
The international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement have stated that “Israel has always used culture as a form of propaganda to whitewash or justify its regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid”. The BDS movement calls on all international festivals to show solidarity with the Palestinian people by rejecting any form of sponsorship from the Israeli government. Thousands of artists across the world now refuse to accept funds from Israel or perform in Israel, including a host of global superstars such as Lorde, Roger Waters from Pink Floyd, Lauryn Hill and Chuck D.
The Documentary Edge Film festival is “The home of storytelling that changes your world.” Unless you happen to be Palestinian. In which case accepting sponsorship from the apartheid state of Israel just art washes your oppression. #boycottdocedge @Docedge @PACBI— Justice for Palestine (@Just4Pal) June 7, 2022