As J-Wire reported a week ago, AICE chairman Albert Dadon, a Moroccan-born businessman and philanthropist, received a letter of protest from an outraged member of the public, David Schulberg, who had attended a screening of the film, and was outraged by its depiction of Israel (which is glimpsed in the film's official trailer, video below):
'With reference to the film Inch’allah that is being shown at this year’s ‘Israeli Film Festival’, we should note that Inch’Allah’s writer and director, Anais Barbeau-Lavalette, in 2009, was one of 500 Quebec artists (including many filmmakers) “joining the international movement against Israeli apartheid” and publicly signing a petition calling for BDS: boycott, divestment and sanctions. This explains why Inch’allah is essentially a propaganda film; it was shot in Jordan probably because of her boycott of Israel....
During the Q&A session that followed the screening I attended in Melbourne on Saturday night August 18, there was a widespread view that this film should not have been part of the program as it was not an Israeli film in any sense. So much for suggestions of “well-meaning” film-making that the partisan presenter of the Q&A session put forward in his overly enthusiastic support for the film.
This is not bona fide Israeli cinema. The film was shot in Jordan by a French-Canadian consortium with a very tenuous association with an international production company July–August productions that has some Israeli backers. The director herself, because of her BDS affiliation, would be boycotting genuine Israeli cinema and as such would not want to be associated with Israeli product that she would in principle be boycotting. Ironically any Israeli Film Festival would be boycotted by her!
The audience witnessed a film that gravely misrepresents the situation that exists in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, highlighting the alleged suffering of Palestinians at the hand of the Israelis by distorting and distending the facts on the ground, using stereotypical symbols of Israeli brutality e.g. a jeep deliberately running over a stone-throwing youth (reminiscent of the story of Rachel Corrie), and a woman giving birth at an Israeli checkpoint and being refused emergency entry to a hospital. [Emphasis added]
I am thinking that we should now be calling this film festival the ‘Anti-Israel Film Festival’. Please provide an explanation for the inclusion of this film created by a self-declared BDS supporter.”Replied Dadon:
“Well received. I completely agree with you. The artistic direction for this film was in contradiction with our objectives. As a result I have asked Palace to pull off the film. I usually prefer not to get involved in artistic matters concerning the festival but in this instance (I had not seen every movie) the message of that film is completely at odds with what we are about.
All ads etc have been cancelled and the film has been cancelled from tomorrow for the rest of the festival next week.
Rest assured that such mistake isn’t about to reoccur.”
The Melbourne Age (not known for its love of Israel and long dubbed "The Spencer Street Soviet") reported:
'Tom Ryan, former Sunday Age film critic, moderated the Melbourne Q & A last Saturday. He said he had been impressed by the audience's "robust responses", "the diverse views on offer", and the "sharp intelligence" of Levy, but added he was "truly dismayed" to learn the film had been pulled. "I had been mistaken about what I'd perceived to be a genuinely democratic openness to ideas," he said.
Another festival patron, Sol Salbe [a well-known Jewish leftist and critic of Israel], who attended a Melbourne screening of Inch'allah, said he felt the removal of the film was wrong, and made for the wrong reasons.
Film critic and broadcaster Peter Krausz labelled the decision to withdraw the film from the program "appalling", claiming it "makes us a laughing stock around the world"....'Observed a former CEO of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Elizabeth Venzin:
".... For a decade, the diversity of values, views and opinions through screening extraordinary films, showing all aspects of Israeli life and society, has been its strength. But it appears Schulberg (and Dadon) do not accept this and now prefer to see a Zionist rose-tinted perspective....
What message has this given to the general population of Australia? Is to acquiesce to a few protests with such an undemocratic decision effectively not an insult to those who have already purchased tickets? Is it not anathema to any film festival? As thinking adults they had made a decision for themselves to watch the film. Instead, a censorial decision has patronisingly been made on their behalf and the film withdrawn. No thinking for ourselves allowed...."Wrote a communal personality in reply:
'.... Would you write the same letter of complaint if the Jewish film festival organizers (or any other denominational/nationalistic Film festival) ‘pulled’ a film by Goebbels promoting Nazism and murder of Jews, or is there no limits on the notion of ‘ absolute free speech’? (If so, then English and European law is in default by prosecuting anyone who yells ‘Fire!” falsely in a theatre, and Australian law immoral for legislating against racism). By the way, I have seen the film, and I think Goebels can indeed learn some subtle tricks from this film in honing skills of falsehood, defamation, slur, and demonization of Israel. Oh, I forgot, but it’s all about free speech. Personally I applaud Mr. Dadon for having the courage to defend the deservedly good name of my people.'Dadon himself noted:
'If this was an Italian film festival that was promoting a Korean film because actor were eating pasta in Italy would it qualify to be in the festival.
Why would it be any different here? It’s a Canadian movie with French money filmed in Jordan.
Our Israeli Film Festival is here to promote Israeli Films. Anything else is pure fantasy..And, as one robust Israel-supporter reflected:
"That tired old excuse about freedom of expression when it comes to demonizing Israeli/Jews just won’t wash....
It 's about time all Jews starting pulling together in the same direction, it's called self preservation....
Unlikely any Film even mildly depicting Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims in a bad light would ever see the light of day at any Arab Film festival.. perhaps that is why the Palestinians have the monopoly on Australian sympathy and winning hands down the PR war here ...."(Actually, not quite the monopoly, although a perusual of Green and leftist opinion certainly misleads to that conclusion: see this report in The Australian on the Liberals' plans to upgrade relations with Israel and ban more terrorist groups ...)