BDS Movement Adds ‘Insult’ To Boycott List

Director of “The Insult’ once filmed in Israel

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement in the Palestinian territories has pressured the municipality of Ramallah to cancel a planned screening of the French-Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri’s new movie, “The Insult”, because of Doueiri’s ties to Israel.

The movie, which takes place during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-90) and focuses on clashes between Palestinians and Lebanese, was supposed to be screened during the Palestinian film festival “Days of Cinema”. The lead actor in “The Insult,” Kamel El-Basha, a Palestinian, won the best actor award at the Venice Film Festival last month.

BDS, which promotes boycotting Israel economically and culturally, has had it in for Doueiri since 2012, when he filmed part of  “The Attack” in Israel. That movie was based on a novel by Algerian author Yasmina Khadra and tells the story of an Arab-Israeli surgeon whose wife carries out a suicide bombing attack in Israel.

“Since Ziad Doueiri is still defending normalization [with Israel], the screening of his films by Arab festivals, including Palestinian ones, will only encourage him to continue with [t]his destructive approach,” the BDS movement announced in a press release.

When reached by The Media Line, BDS leaders in Ramallah refused to comment.

For his part, actor El-Basha stressed that the anti-Israel movement has no right to ban any intellectual work, especially since “The Insult” has nothing to do with the Jewish state. “This is a ban on freedom of expression. Today they will ban this movie and tomorrow a book—this is unacceptable.”

“The Attack” was also censored in Lebanon, and Doueiri was briefly detained and questioned about his work in Israel in 2012 when he arrived in Lebanon last month. Beirut prevents its citizens from visiting Israel or having business dealings with Israelis.

A Palestinian film producer who has worked with Doueiri in the past told The Media Line, on condition of anonymity, that all artistic works should be viewed. “When Doueiri filmed ‘The Attack,’ he used an Israeli production company. On top of that the movie premiered at the Jerusalem International Film Festival. This is unacceptable.” But, the producer continued, “Palestinians should not boycott ‘The Insult’ because of Doueiri’s misguided actions in filming ‘The Attack.'”

In Ramallah, activists had planned protests against the screening and launched a social-media campaign against Doueiri. But not all Palestinians were in agreement.

Ala’a Barghouthi, 22, opined to The Media Line that people should be given a chance to watch the movie and then judge and discuss it in a civilized way. “Even if it was a Jewish movie and promoted normalization, it should be screened so people can understand how Israel thinks and promotes its story.”

Dina Azouni, a Palestinian blogger, told The Media Line that she agreed with this point of view and that banning “The Insult” was unfair to the Palestinian community. “I understand that the director, who is Lebanese, visited Tel Aviv about five years ago to film a movie. However, I believe that it is up to the viewer to decide whether they like or dislike it.”

Azouni understands that the BDS movement is important to the Palestinian cause, but is realistic about its limitations. “Let’s be real, anyone who wants to see a movie can see it when it goes online. So, what are we achieving when we ban a movie? Didn’t we all see movies directed by Israelis? Isn’t it important to see movies directed from different viewpoints?”

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