MK vs. Mifal Hapayis: Reconsider support of film honoring Leah Zemel

“Mifal Hapayis merely awards the prize for marketing of the film selected to represent Israel at the Oscars,” the letter stated.

June 27, 2019 12:11
2 minute read.
Oscar trophies

Oscar trophies. (photo credit: TNS)


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Likud MK Eti Atiah sent a letter to the chairman of Israel’s national lottery on Tuesday asking that the organization reconsider its decision to award NIS 150,000 to producers of the film honoring Leah Zemel.

Zemel is an Israeli lawyer who for more than 50 years has been representing terrorists who have killed and maimed Israelis.

“I am asking you to please desist in supporting this film that is like sticking a finger in the red eyes of bereaved families who know no peace from all the struggles around the death of their loved ones, and therefore ask that you stop the large wave of cancellations of subscriptions to Mifal Hapayis on the part of concerned Israeli citizens,” Atiah wrote to Avigdor Yitzhaki, chairman of Mifal Hapayis. “Do not let this incident spoil the tens of positive projects that Mifal Hapayis does for the State of Israel.”

When knowledge of the prize money came to his attention, Ran Carmi Buzaglo – a member of the organization Determined Zionism – posted on his Facebook page his intention to cancel his subscription to Mifal Hapayis.

That post was reposted on the 404 news website’s Facebook page and led to more than 1,000 cancellations on the part of angry citizens within an hour. A source close to a senior staff member at the lottery said that he was told that the harm to Mifal Hapayis is “huge.”

In their acknowledgement of receipt of the cancellation of subscriptions, the letter from Mifal Hapayis stated that all prizes for artistic endeavors are chosen by a professional team not associated with the lottery, in this case, the Docaviv committee.

“Mifal Hapayis merely awards the prize for marketing of the film selected to represent Israel at the Oscars,” the letter stated. 

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev also asked Mifal Hapayis to distance itself from this film. The Ministry Spokesman told The Jerusalem Post that, “the Docaviv Festival is supported along with many other film festivals and the support is for artistic productions and not for entry into competitions. The prize is not part of our support and our ministry does not provide any budget for prizes. The prize is provided by Mifal Hapayis and is the responsibility of the local municipality and the Finance Ministry.”

Regev said that she has called on Mifal Hapayis “to distance itself from the prize awarded to a film that glorifies the name and actions of Leah Zemel as a lawyer and spokeswoman for terrorists with Israeli blood on their hands and that offends so many bereaved parents.”

In 2018, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences included Docaviv as a qualifying festival whereby the first prize winner is eligible to apply for the Oscar automatically.  The award provided by Mifal Hapayis supplements a 70,000 NIS prize provided by The Howard Gilman Israel Cultural Foundation.

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