Israel feels pressure as boycott movement gains global support
Gil Sima doesn’t support Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
But that hasn’t stopped filmmakers from dropping out of his Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival to protest the country’s policies toward Palestinians.
“We are a very human-rights-oriented film festival. Here in Israel, they think we’re left-wing queer weirdos,” Sima, its executive director, said. “But outside, it’s the same: ‘You’re from Israel, you’re right-wing, you’re an occupier.’”
Like many other entertainment and cultural events here, the film festival has been targeted by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign.
Founded in 2005, BDS calls for “recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.” It also advocates for the return of millions of Palestinians to the homes their ancestors left or were forced from when Israel was established in 1948.
Israeli officials allege the BDS movement is anti-Semitic and seeks to destroy the country. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has spent at least $15 million on combating BDS since 2015.