I was a little surprised when I read that the Toronto Film Festival's first City to City choice would be Tel Aviv. The festival is running right now (Sept. 10-19). "That's an unusual first choice, especially considering so many leftists despise Israel, and I suspect that includes not a few in the film industry," I thought. Reaction was swift and nasty. A director withdrew his film and began circulating a petition to "protest TIFF's complicity with the Israeli propaganda machine." You don't say! (And we all know what a splendid job that propaganda machine is doing.)
In his pathetic, simpering response to this opening shot, TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey capitulates to the leftists by agreeing that Tel Aviv "remains contested ground." Contested by whom? By the Islamists and leftist extremists who believe Israel has no right to exist. And Bailey feels the need to acknowledge such extremist views? Consider the source, and his field of work, I suppose.
The petition critical of TIFF's choice of Tel Aviv gained traction and 50 signers, including Jane Fonda, Danny Glover and Alice Walker. After heavy criticism of the petition from Hollywood heavyweights (and Big Jews) Jerry Seinfeld, Natalie Portman and Sacha Baron Cohen, Fonda apologized. The petition says in part, "[W]e object to the use of such an important international festival in staging a propaganda campaign on behalf of...an apartheid regime."
Here we go again.
And "regime," of course, is a code word for "totalitarian dictatorship."
It seems like comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa is a new development because The Worthless One President Jimmy Carter sealed the comparison with his 2006 book title Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. (During his subsequent book tour Carter conceded the Israeli government does not practice apartheid. Liar? You tell me.) I remember in the late 80's pro-Israel advocates trained us students how to combat and debate such comparisons. There were five main laws that set up apartheid in South Africa. The African National Congress, Nelson Mandela's opposition party, wanted those five laws repealed. Obviously, Israel never had any such laws and gives its minority Arab citizens more rights than they would enjoy in any Arab state.
The nasty, visceral reaction to Israel at every turn--academia in London, a film festival in Toronto--calls the liberal agenda's integrity into question especially when liberals are strangely silent on real human rights violations elsewhere around the globe. Burma/Myanmar and Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest? This should be a cause célèbre (with celebrities), but Suu Kyi's democracy movement is almost a secret in the West. North Korea's prison work camps? Worth investigation and publicity; only briefly famous because Pyongyang got lucky when it captured two pretty American women, thus forcing a visit by a former president. China's illegal occupation of Tibet and gradual elimination of Tibetan culture? The People's Republic considers Tibet an internal matter, and no one seems to mind.
And that's just Asia.
Israel's neighbors are some of the worst human rights violators in the world. Penalty for wearing a cross necklace in Saudi Arabia: flogging. Penalty for Driving While Female in Saudi Arabia: flogging. Penalty for being outed as a gay man almost anywhere in the Arab world: torture and public execution. (Yet you see a Queers for Palestine sign at every anti-Israel rally. The cognitive dissonance is astounding.) Arranged marriages of underage girls. Female genital mutilation. Honor killings. No consequences for rape. These are all common in the Arab world and duly noted by the State Department's annual Human Rights Report. No one seems to care.
The organizations that are supposed to care are the Non-Governmental Organizations, or NGO's. They are repeatedly shown to have the same nasty anti-Israel bias that is prevalent across the West. They are silent on terrorist war crimes against Israel but fire up their laptops at the first sign of Israel daring to defend itself. "You're shooting back? No fair!" This is how Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch operate. HRW suffered two recent embarrassments: a discovery that it raises funds in Saudi Arabia by promoting its anti-Israel work; and a discovery that an analyst at HRW is a Nazi memorabilia collector. After initially defending Marc Garlasco, HRW suspended the analyst today.
In apartheid South Africa and the Jim Crow American South, we saw how racial/ethnic hatred prevailed over economic self-interest. South Africa suffered serious economic pain due to its apartheid system and the subsequent worldwide boycott. Societal segregation gave white Southerners the lowest quality of life of anyone in the U.S.--except for their black neighbors. Now, human rights advocates ignore their own principle and ideology to attack Israel...just because.