Tel Aviv University invitation for Nakba-themed film festival sparks controversy

The university's official email account was used to send students information about submitting films for a festival promoting "the return of Palestinian refugees."

By HAYAH GOLDLIST-EICHLER
April 29, 2015 17:39
2 minute read.
Tel Aviv University campus

Tel Aviv University campus. (photo credit: PR)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Im Tirtzu, a Zionist student organization, has demanded that Prof. Joseph Klafter, president of Tel Aviv University, “strongly and unequivocally condemn” the call for film submissions to the Zochrot film festival, which was sent out to TAU film department students and graduates.

The festival in question is the third International Film Festival on Nakba and Return, which, according to the Zochrot organization, is “designed to raise public awareness of the crimes of the Nakba and of the return of Palestinian refugees as critical issues that should be on the agenda of the Israeli public.”

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Zochrot is a Tel Aviv-based organization that works to promote the idea of Jewish- Israeli accountability for the Nakba, with the end goal of establishing the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Im Tirtzu, calling Zochrot an “anti-Israel organization” in its letter to Klafter, stated that “No one disputes that flooding the State of Israel with millions of Palestinians means not only turning the state into an Arab country but also into a battlefield between different religious communities, just like what is happening in the Middle East.”

The letter went on to state that “the massive distribution of this message by the university on its official mailing list to students and graduates is in our view a matter of grave concern. This action encourages university students to take part in propaganda festivals calling for the destruction of Israel and its citizens.”

The Zochrot organization responded by applauding TAU for “believing in academic freedom – as is fitting for a self-respecting institution of higher learning.” It stated that the choice to participate should be made by each individual according to his ideology and not forced upon students by the academic institution at which they chose to study.

Its response went on to react to the Im Tirtzu organization, stating that “the letter from Im Tirtzu suggests censorship, limiting freedom of expression and art, and limiting academic freedom. This isn’t surprising, of course, from an organization that the courts have declared as having fascist characteristics.”



The reference to the courts is based on a ruling from 2013, in which the court denied most of the case Im Tirtzu brought against leftwing activists who opened a Facebook group calling Im Tirtzu a fascist organization.

The judge stated in his decision that certain similarities exist between the ideology of Im Tirtzu and aspects of fascist ideology.

Zochrot concluded its response by inviting members of the Im Tirtzu organization to attend the film festival in question.

TAU responded by stating that the film department routinely receives information and invitations meant for students, and the information is passed along by the secretaries without consultation with anyone else in the faculty.

“The university has no connection to the advertising of the ‘open call,’ and informing the students in no way indicates a university opinion on the issue of the ‘Nakba.’”

Related Content

Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak.
July 17, 2018
Ehud Barak: Netanyahu must be stopped

By GIL HOFFMAN