WASHINGTON – A letter calling for a boycott of the Tel Aviv University student film festival lists James Cameron and Jane Fonda as signatories, but the world-famous director and actress are said to deny any connection to the effort.

“She had nothing to do with this letter and knew nothing about it and does not agree with it,” Fonda’s publicist, Pat Kingsley, told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday. “I am advised that someone sent this letter out as a joke – and a sick one at that.”

Cameron and his representatives could not be reached directly by the Post, but his colleague Simcha Jacobovici said Cameron told him that he “never saw it, never signed it and doesn’t agree with it.”

Jacobovici described himself as “shocked” when he heard that Cameron had supposedly signed onto a boycott. “When I heard the story that he had signed this, knowing him, I couldn’t believe that this could be true.”

The Emmy-winning filmmaker collaborated on two films with Cameron, whose recent movie Avatar has become the highest-grossing hit of all time.

The letter, addressed to film schools participating in the student film festival later this year by “concerned film teachers, scholars and filmmakers,” was apparently circulated a few weeks ago. It calls on festival backers to sign on to the boycott of the Tel Aviv event and drop any plans for participation.

“The urgent humanitarian crisis of Gaza demands urgent action. This is one way for all of us – students, teachers, filmmakers – to take a stand,” it says, dismissing charges that the effort is anti-Semitic or constitutes censorship. The only names listed as having signed onto the boycott call are Fonda’s and Cameron’s.

The two activists whose names appear in an e-mail accompanying the letter and forwarded on to the Post – York University film professor John Greyson and Canada-based filmmaker Kathy Wazana – did not respond to repeated requests for comment from the Post.

But in an e-mail seen to come from Wazana and obtained by the Post, Wazana referred to Fonda and Cameron having been included as a “joke.”

According to the e-mail, the copy of the letter was a draft – made clear by informalities and blanks in the text – and not meant to be sent out. “It was a terrible mistake and I am mortified at the implications,” she wrote.

It’s not clear how widely the letter was circulated before the issue of the false signatories came to light. It’s also not clear if anyone has dropped out of the festival as a result.

Tel Aviv University did not respond to requests for comment.

Sara Saber-Freedman, executive vice president of the Canada-Israel Committee, said she hoped the misuse of Cameron’s and Fonda’s names would reduce the credibility of the petition altogether.

“That really puts into question the credibility of the entire endeavor,” she said. “There’s a pattern of deceptiveness, and the reason is that it’s a propaganda exercise.”

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