ZOA Condemns Jane Fonda, Danny Glover, Alice Walker & Others For Boycotting Toronto Film Festival Honoring Tel Aviv
September 9, 2009

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned actors Jane Fonda and Danny Glover, author Alice Walker and Canadian film director John Greyson for boycotting the Toronto film festival over a program honoring Tel Aviv’s 100th anniversary. The three have added their names to a letter aimed at festival officials claiming that Tel Aviv was built on violence, ignoring the “suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants” and that “Intentionally or not …the festival has become complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine” (‘Israel bashers in Toronto,’ New York Post, September 4, 2009). Other signatories have already included culture critic Naomi Klein, British film director Ken Loach, Scottish-American David Byrne, American playwright Eve Ensler, British film director Sophie Fiennes and American actor Wallace Shawn.


Greyson has called the honoring of Tel Aviv complicity with the Israeli “propaganda” machine (Michael Cieply, ‘Anger Over Israeli Presence Is Heating Up Toronto Film Festival,’ New York Times, September 4, 2009). He also claimed that the festival was showing “an ostrich-like indifference to the realities (cinematic and otherwise) of the region” and that honoring Tel Aviv was like honoring “Montgomery buses in 1963” and “South African fruits in 1991” (Ben Walters, ‘Toronto film festival hit by cultural boycott over Tel Aviv strand,’ Guardian [London], September 7, 2009).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We condemn these people for their boycotting of Israel at this film festival. Clearly, people like Fonda, who could go to North Vietnam to support its regime during the Vietnam War and Glover, who has visited Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela on a 2006 ‘solidarity’ mission, but who then boycott a film festival which honors Tel Aviv, are devoid of a moral compass and basic decency.


“These people claim to be concerned about justice and peace. But one never hears them criticize the Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or their rejection of the 2000 Clinton peace plan, or their resort to a wave of terror. They never issue statements demanding that the PA end terror and incitement to hatred and murder against Israel – the demonization of Jews does not disturb these haters of the Jewish state. They have nothing to say in condemnation of the terrorism that has claimed over 1,500 Israeli lives since 2000, the maiming of many thousands more or the deliberate targeting of civilians. No, their criticism is strictly reserved for Israel taking action in response to these attacks to defend its citizens. These people do not like Jews who defend themselves. They are actually promoting the PA, an entity that promotes hatred and violence, the very things they profess to be against.


“I did not see Glover criticize Chavez, who is subverting democracy and encouraging anti-Semitism in Venezuela – whose mentor, in fact, was the Argentinian Holocaust denier Norberto Ceresole. If Glover knows any of this, it has not stopped him supporting a vile, anti-American, anti-Semitic leader. But Glover has no problem displaying hostility towards a democratic, human rights respecting country like Israel.


“These Israel bashers are also deeply ignorant. They have been so thoroughly duped by poisonous Palestinian propaganda against Israel that they claim that Tel Aviv was built on violence. In point of fact, Tel Aviv was built on sand dunes north of Jaffa in 1909. Its development involved no violence or suffering of former residents. It had no former residents. (The predominantly Arab-populated port of Jaffa was only municipally joined to Tel Aviv after Israel was founded and many of its residents fled as a result of a war launched against Israel that went badly for the aggressors).


“Had these actors undertaken any research or given any serious thought to the issue, they would have understood that had Israel lost the 1948 war, Tel Aviv, instead of being the thriving and creative metropolis it has become, would have been destroyed by Arab armies. Is this what they would have desired? These actors should be celebrating Tel Aviv’s magnificent achievements, not boycotting a festival that seeks to celebrate it, citing spurious and dishonest moral considerations.


“These celebrities are clearly people who, because they are celebrities, enjoy unmerited influence and ability to publicize their political views. This places an even greater responsibility on them to think carefully before speaking on political matters, which they have clearly failed. They deserve to be condemned and shunned by the Jewish, pro-Israeli community and all other people of goodwill.”



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