Recent protests in the United States against the Israel Ballet Company (and last year against the Batsheva Dance Company), as well as the brouhaha at last year's Toronto Film Festival over its spotlight on the city of Tel Aviv in its centennial year, raise the prospect that BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) activists may target Israeli films. Those who support BDS need to consider whether attacking this film industry, boldly liberal in its exposure of current and historic flaws in Israeli society, is the way to go. Moreover, the targeting of cultural entities in general (including universities) comes across as an attack on Israelis as a people, and not just against the often repressive policies of the government of the State of Israel.In the meantime, last weekend's Haaretz magazine has published a long analysis of the effectiveness of economic boycotts as an international strategy. It recounts a profoundly mixed record, which usually boomerangs against the intended impact. For example, while the South African example was something of a success, the Arab boycott against the pre-state Yishuv and then the State of Israel, was begun for protectionist reasons and in the long run helped bolster Israel into an economic powerhouse. This is a complex subject matter, treated intelligently and in depth.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Films and boycotts
My celebratory overview of Israeli films, "Israeli Cinema Continues to Shine," published in the May/June issue of Tikkun, is now available on its website. This article focuses upon the recent feature films, "Ajami" and "For My Father," and concludes with the following plea against boycotting Israeli cultural products: