An article in the New York Times last Tuesday reported a rejection by a Norwegian man called Ketil Magnusson of an Israeli entry to the documentary film festival titled “Human Rights Human Wrongs”. This is my open letter to Mr. Magnusson:

Dear Mr. Magnusson,

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I was born in Jordan to Palestinian parents. Members of my immediate and extended family were made refugees as a result of the conflict in both 1948 and 1967. No amount of reading or moral sanctimony can bring you closer to the conflict, its miseries and pains, than I.


I heard about your refusal to screen the Israeli film-maker Roy Zafrani’s film at the Norwegian Documentary Festival (Human Rights Human Wrongs) and wanted to share the following:

The Arab-Israeli conflict is not the only conflict in the Middle East. It is not even the primary conflict. Two camps face each other in the region:

- A camp that includes Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, some of the Gulf countries, the nascent Kurdish state, and many organizations and individuals (including Palestinians and Israeli Arabs) who, to various degrees, are working to promote coexistence, democracy, human rights, and international cooperation.

- A camp that includes the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic State, the Islamic Resistance Movement (aka Hamas), Hizbollah, Al-Qaeda, and other organizations (e.g. BDS) and individuals who, though violently disagreeing on many things, share the common goal of destroying Israel.

By excluding the sole Israeli entry from the festival, you have effectively joined the latter camp, the camp of rejectionists and war-mongers. With your refusal to include a film from the only functioning liberal democratic country in the region, you are waging war not only on Israel, but on all Arabs who would coexist with Israel, and who are trying to stem the tide of Islamic radicalism and revanchism in their own countries. With your action, you have made common cause with the theocrats, the misogynists, homophobes, the killers of Christians and Yazidis, and the recruiters of child-soldiers in the cause of anti-Semitism.

Setting aside for a moment the particulars of the charges against Israel you mentioned in the festival’s Facebook page, I ask you: Is the rest of the world, where the other films in your festival come from, an oasis of justice and human rights? If your answer is no, why do you not boycott those films? Why do you single out the work of an Israeli filmmaker to demonstrate your ostensible indignation at human injustice? Why do you ignore all human rights violations in the world, in Arab and Islamic countries, in Gaza itself, and focus exclusively on those allegedly committed in the Jewish state?

Your part of the world is infamous for its mistreatment of Jews. The ersatz indignation that Europeans like you display on behalf of Jew-hating Arabs obscures neither the native anti-Semitism of your continent nor the hypocrisy of that indignation.

Abe Haak
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