OPEN LETTER to George Clooney: Say NO to Haifa International Film Festival

10/6/11

(above, the Haifa International Film Festival splashes Clooney’s film as its OPENING film, exploiting Clooney in a Re-Brand effort that has been effective but is still waning as Israel’s war crimes are in the forefront of the minds of people of conscience)

Dear George Clooney, 

Arts and culture have become an important weapon in the Israeli government’s public relations campaign, and in 2006, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched an initiative called “Brand Israel,” to salvage Israel’s deteriorating image abroad. 
The  Haifa International Film Festival is an arm of the Israel Ministry of Culture and Sport and the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, both of which are happy to exploit your good name as part of their effort to re-Brand Israel as a normal country by showing its “prettier face”–its vibrant cultural and artistic community.  Thus, Israel is portrayed as an enlightened center of arts and technology, thereby concealing the ugly facts about its occupation, racial discrimination and grave violations of international law and fundamental Palestinian rights.
It came to our attention that the film you directed “The Ides of March,” will be the “opening film” at the Haifa International Film Festival.  
Mr. Clooney, we urge you to follow the example of the renowned filmmaker Ken Loach, who declared in 2006 that he would decline any invitation to the Haifa International Film Festival, or other such occasions, as an acknowledgment of the Palestinian call for boycott, which Palestinians have been driven to pursue “after forty years of the occupation of their land, destruction of their homes and the kidnapping and murder of their civilians.” Loach was responding to the 2006 call by Palestinian filmmakers, artists and others to boycott state sponsored Israeli cultural institutions and urged others to join this campaign. 
Since the Haifa International Film Festival has made no attempt to dissociate itself from Israel’s apartheid policies, we can only assume the festival organizers and sponsors are happy to screen films under the patronage of the State of Israel and/or its institutions.  Meanwhile, the charges of war crimes against Israel hang thick in the air worldwide.
The apartheid wall, shown in these photos, is just one aspect of Israel’s illegal suppression of the other half of the population that is not Jewish.  That other half is oppressed in atrocious ways that amount to war crimes.  An estimated 7 million or more Palestinians  live as refugees.  Refugees that are denied their full legal right to return to their homes.  Refugees that live in poverty and squalor, through no fault other than that they are not Jewish.   They were expelled, in order for a jewish state to be formed.  That state, globally, more and more, is known as “Apartheid Israel.”  
George Clooney, please be on the right side of history, the side that eventually will win.  The side that contributes, each person in their own small way, to the abolishing of apartheid.
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