A Celebration of Solidarity: Filmmakers respond to TIFF: Sept 14 @ 7 p.m., Ryerson

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A Celebration of Solidarity: Filmmakers respond to TIFF: Sept 14 @ 7 p.m., Ryerson

WHERE: Ryerson University, 80 Gould Street

WHEN: September 14th at 7 p.m.

COST: Free!

INFO: http://torontodeclaration.blogspot.com

On September 2, 2009, a group of Canadian and international cultural producers in the film, culture and media arts communities issued a statement called the Toronto Declaration.

In opposition to the Toronto International Film Festival's celebratory spotlight on Tel Aviv this year, artists from around the world sent a strong message that occupation anywhere will never be celebrated.

Despite a week of attacks on the signatories of this letter, the Toronto Declaration is unstoppable. Since its initial release, the letter has continued to gather signatures. Now more than 1000 people from around the world — including many Israelis — have signed on in protest of TIFF's City-to-City Spotlight on Tel Aviv.

New signatories include music and cinematic legends Harry Belafonte and Julie Christie. Actor Viggo Mortensen, who will be attending this year's festival, just added his name. Leading intellectual figures Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler and Anne McClintock have also recently endorsed the declaration, along with prominent Canadian writers Rawi Hage, Joy Kogawa, Dionne Brand, and Kerri Sakamoto. Celebrated local filmmakers Velcrow Ripper, Min Sook Lee and Lynne Fernie have also signed the letter.

International support for the declaration continues to grow despite denunciations, unfounded personal attacks on earlier signatories Jane Fonda, Danny Glover, and Naomi Klein, and despite an aggressive campaign of misinformation regarding the letter’s content.

Come out this Monday, September 14th at 7:00 p.m. to see some of the names behind the Toronto Declaration, with messages of solidarity and responses to their critics.

For more information, and to read the Toronto Declaration and the full list of signatories, visit: http://torontodeclaration.blogspot.com

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

This is going to be big.

I hope they have plenty of security lined up.


I notice Atom Egoyan hasn't signed..


M. Spector wrote:

This is going to be big.

Let's hope so! :)


Read this everyone:

This is in reply to your article posted in rabble.ca.  Your introduction and your general comments on racism are accurate and thoughtful.  But by the middle of your first section, you started piling distortion upon falsehood in a continuous crescendo till the very end.


You say (my emphasis):


This is particularly evident in the Middle East, where there is no historic tradition of anti-Semitism.


Really?  Evidently, you never lived in a Muslim country.  But you could have learned about the long history of Islamic animosity against Jews, even during the so-called “golden age” of Al-Andalus; the supremacist attitude of Islam against Jews and Christians, entrenched in Koranic injunctions; the segregation of non-Muslims, firmly established in the “Dhimma” covenant, as researched extensively by Bat Yeor in her book Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide; the importation to the Middle East of the anti-Jewish Nazi ideology by Hassan al-Banna of the Muslim Brotherhood and by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin el-Husseini, who admired Hitler, actively supported his genocidal views, and was eager to start his own program of extermination had it not been for the Nazi defeat at El-Alamein in 1942; the glee with which Arabs massacred Jews in Iraq (the “Farhud” in 1941) and elsewhere with the rallying cry of Yitbah-al-Yahud (“Behead the Jews!”); and the present manifestations of anti-Jewish rage overtly voiced in the Palestinian media, mosques, schools and Charters.  Sure, Islamic anti-Semitism never reached the horrors of the Holocaust.  But is that a reason why it should be whitewashed so clumsily?


The Israeli government insists that its wars and its oppression of the Palestinians are actions of the Jewish people as a whole, defending their interests as Jews. The world media repeat this lie. It is not surprising that many victims of Israel’s crimes blame the Jews. The Israeli government’s actions create a hearing for anti-Semitism.


If you really attach meaning to your words – rather than “repeating the lies” hammered day and night by Palestinian Arabs, and conveniently projecting them on Israel in a well known psychological mechanism of self-defense to cleanse the atrocities of the people you defend – you would have to define “Israel’s crimes” and its “oppression of the Palestinians”, and do so factually, rather than stupidly parroting the tiresome resolutions of the UN Human Rights Council, which has turned into a laughable circus since its inception.

The most effective response for progressive Jews is to insist, loud and clear, “Not In Our Name” – and for all of us to work for an end to Israel’s wars and oppression.


I would have been surprised if the baseless cliché of “oppression” did not appear at least twice in rapid succession!  The NION crowd of brainless puppets believe that repetition of nonsense makes it believable, which is probably true when they address crowds of their same intellectual calibre.

Today, the Canadian government condemns the campaign to defend Palestine.


The Canadian government is absolutely right – not because it “condemns the campaign to defend ‘Palestine’” (whatever ‘Palestine’ means) – but because it is a campaign aimed at denigrating, delegitimizing and demonizing Israel without any shred of evidence.

There is nothing anti-Jewish in Israeli Apartheid Week: it is an educational event on political issues of concern to us all. They say my homeland is Israel. And here I thought it my homeland was Canada!


When Palestinians and their hapless supporters target the ‘collective Jew’ that Israel represents, and they focus their condemnation exclusively and selectively on Israel (while ignoring the unspeakable atrocities inflicted by the Palestinians themselves on both Jews and their Arab brethren), it is without a doubt anti-Jewish.  If only a fraction of this slander were directed against, say, Italy, then the Italian-Canadians would feel the same outrage at having their homeland denigrated, even though they are as Canadian as anyone.  But if you find this slander “educational” you must be by now irredeemably brainwashed, to the credit of the Palestinian propaganda peddlers and their masterfully conducted campaign.


The Canadian government says that to criticize Israel is an attack on the Jewish people. This is absurd. Criticism of Israel is not prejudice.


The real absurdity is in failing to distinguish criticism of policies from denial of the national Jewish character of Israel.  The latter is called anti-Zionism and this is exactly what the Palestinians regularly engage into and what you seem too blind to recognize.

As for singling out Israel, the Palestinian solidarity movement simply applies to Israel the same standards used for any other country. It is Israel that singles itself out, by carrying out crimes, like the siege of Gaza, with no parallel elsewhere in the world.


Fiction here reaches new heights! Let’s review recent events and observe how even-handedly the “Palestinian solidarity movement” reacted: every week, there are scores of Muslims killed by other Muslims in Iraq; the Saudis built a wall inside Yemeni territory and along its Iraqi border to prevent infiltration; Muslim Pakistanis kills Muslim Taliban by the hundreds with the assistance of the U.S. Air Force; China represses the Uighur Muslims, killing hundreds of them; the Lebanese Army attacks a Palestinian refugee camp in Nahr-al-Bared, displacing 30,000 people.  But did we hear any semblance of a protest from any “progressive” group that is solely focused on the putative “Israeli crimes” against the Palestinians?  And what are those “crimes”, actually?  Nothing more than a protracted military action of self-defence against thousands of Hamas rockets hitting Israel for the past four years, a Palestinian aggression that has, indeed, “no parallel elsewhere in the world.”  How could you invert reality in such a grotesque fashion?  The answer is simple: in the realm of pure fiction, there is no need to account for reality.


It is argued that we in the Palestinian solidarity movement do not accept the existence of Israel. So let us be clear. Israel exists That does not mean that this country must be ethnically exclusive. What we do not accept is Israeli apartheid -- that is, a state based on the oppression of a subject people.


So, “Israel exists”, but it should not exist as an “ethnically exclusive” country, which means it should not be a Jewish nation-state, as it was intended from the beginning and recognized as such in international law back in 1920.


Ms. Weiss, your indignation would be more credible had you extended the same opposition to ethnically-exclusive Japan, Poland, Iceland and many other nation-states which never expressed any desire to be multicultural states.  But I suppose you must direct your wrath at Israel exclusively, to keep your “solidarity” with the “Palestinian movement” and to include, for the third time, the notion of “oppression” and the red herring of “apartheid.”


When Arabs constitute 20% of the current Israeli population and these Arabs find their place in the Knesset, in the judiciary, in the Foreign Service, in hospitals, in universities and, in some cases, in the Army, no one other than the maliciously obtuse would call Israel an “apartheid” society.  On the other hand, when the Palestinian Arabs insist on dismantling all Jewish settlements in the “West Bank” to make it Judenrein, I wonder why the term “apartheid” no longer comes to your mind.


And then you propose three measures to end “Israeli apartheid”:


1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands, dismantling the Wall and freeing all Palestinian and Arab political prisoners;


Here, you show your sheer ignorance of law, history and current events, not to mention semantics.  How do you define those “Arab lands” which Israel should cease to “occupy”?  If these “Arab lands” – wherever they may be – are indeed “occupied”, perhaps you could enlighten us by responding to the following questions:


1) Occupied from whom? Every occupation presupposes the prior existence of a legitimate sovereign power, as when Germany occupied sovereign France.  So, which legitimate power held these lands prior to the so-called Israeli “occupation”?


2) When did these “Arab lands” become Palestinian?


3) When was such a “Palestinian nation” born and when did it disappear, now that everyone is eager to have it reborn?


But of course, Ms. Weiss, no one is holding his/her breath waiting for a coherent explanation from you.  Because the minute you realize that the answer to those questions throws your crafted fiction into utter disarray, you would experience that most unpleasant feeling of having been used as the proverbial useful idiot.


As to the “Palestinian and Arab political prisoners” who should be “freed”, let me remind you: a) that Israel has freed thousands of Arabs from its jails in a most lopsided exchange that should have shamed any Arab leader conscious of such undignified balance sheet; and b) that none of those convicts were “political prisoners” but hardened criminals, a third of whom resumed their murderous activities soon after being released.


2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality;


You should understand that citizenship is not a right but a privilege bestowed by the sovereign according to laws it freely adopts.  Israeli Basic Laws granted citizenship to its Arab residents.  Citizenship provided Arabs with the right to vote, to elect their deputies and to enjoy basically all the same rights as their Jewish fellow citizens.  But with citizenship also come obligations, the most important of which is the respect of the state and its laws.  So, when Sheikh Raed Salah, an Israeli citizen and the head of the Northern Islamic Movement, gathered 30,000 followers three years ago in the stadium of Kfar Kana (an Israeli Arab town in lower Galilee) and, to raucous applause, the Sheikh urged the crowd to "save Jerusalem from the hands of the Jews" and assured them that "Jerusalem will soon be the capital of the world Islamic nation, and it will be governed by a caliph", one should pause and question the loyalty of a substantial part of the Arab citizenry.  And this, from only a small portion of the Israeli Arab population, in a small village of Galilee.


3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in U.N. General Assembly resolution 194.


There couldn’t be a complete account of Palestinian grievances without the mandatory mention of the “right of return of the refugees” because this is the cornerstone of the Palestinian agenda: the eradication of the Jewish state of Israel.  And to buttress this non-right, Palestinians and their supporters do not hesitate to rehash the UNGA Resolution 194, as many leftist scholars did (with a straight face, I must add, even though I wonder whether they have read the full Resolution) at the recent “Israel/Palestine” conference held at York University last June.


Let me show you the vacuity of your argument:

  • General Assembly Resolutions are not binding and do not constitute international law.
  • Resolution 194 was rejected by all Arab countries.  It is then preposterous for them, 60 years later, to hail this document as essential.
  • The article which refers to the refugees (Art. 11) is just one among 15 which deal primarily with a "Conciliation Commission" aimed at resolving all the issues pending between Arabs and Israelis, something the Arabs were obviously not prepared to do then and probably not now, with some rare exceptions.
  • Article 11 does not specifically mention the "Palestinian Arab” refugees.  If the question of Jewish refugees is included (at it should normally be), then the "responsible Governments" that Art. 11 refers to would be at a far greater disadvantage for any "compensation for loss of property", given the much larger assets that the Jews left behind when they were expelled from Arab countries.
  • Restricting the return to those “who wish to live at peace with their neighbours" (Art. 11) evidently  bars the majority of the Palestinian Arabs who were actively hostile to Israel even before May 14, 1948, and still are today according to most polls.
  • Article 11 not only mentions the “return" but also the "resettlement and economic rehabilitation" of the refugees wherever their present location may be, something the Arab states (with the exception of Jordan) have been reluctant to do to this day.  The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has opposed any termination of the "refugee status" of the Palestinian Arabs even after the third or fourth generation of refugees, contrary to the usual practice of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which applies to all other refugee groups in the world.


And this is your assessment of the three measures you proposed:


None of these measures is in any way prejudicial to the rights of Jewish people in Israel or elsewhere. Indeed, these demands are in the best interests of Israeli Jews as well as Palestinians.


This is way beyond fiction; it is nothing short of insanity.  Free thousands of Arab criminals with blood in their hands; acquiesce to the seditious calls of Israeli Arab citizens; let millions of Palestinians swamp the land of Israel.  But we should all trust your comforting thoughts: it is not “prejudicial” to the Jews of Israel; it is even in their “best interests”!  I would not expect such rhetoric coming from the most hopeless asylum.


Finally you conclude with this pearl of doublespeak:


The struggle to liberate the Palestinians goes hand in hand with opposition to anti-Semitism. In a broader sense, the movement against Israeli apartheid is directed against the fountainhead of anti-Semitism: the racist ideology that still permeates our society.


That’s it!  Why didn’t we think of this before? Destroy the Jews and their State to eliminate anti-Semitism at its source.  Long live George Orwell!



Uh, yeah.  Okay, this thread isn't the letters to the editor section.  And NoDoucheParty is clearly an anti-Muslim troll, so he's banned.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/publish/article_1212.shtml]Jewish Voice for Peace[/url] has endorsed the Toronto Declaration and devotes space on its website to countering the lies and distortions about it put forward by the media and the Zionists.

This U.S. based peace group has about 90,000 supporters.


This was posted in another thread but jane fonda has renounced her participation in the toronto declaration



M. Spector M. Spector's picture


The coalition of artist and activists opposed to the TIFF focus on Tel Aviv - because it seems to coincide with an Israeli government plan to promote Israeli arts and sciences - held a public meeting at Ryerson University, attended by some 300 people.

They gave standing ovations to Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman and Canadian director John Greyson, whose decision last month to pull his short documentary from TIFF's 2009 lineup was the catalyst for the current controversy, a standing ovation.

Although the protesters insist that they do not intend to boycott or censor Israeli films per se, most of the people who have signed the group's letter of protest are part of the much broader boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign aimed at weakening the Israeli state.

However, Mr. Suleiman warned the audience to be careful of the boycott weapon, saying it has to be applied selectively.

The protesters so-called Toronto Declaration, posted online with an open request for additional signatories, has so far drawn 1,500 supporters.

The two-hour meeting, which included videotaped and written statements from Canadian activist Naomi Klein, filmmaker Ken Loach, novelist Alice Walker and Israeli filmmaker Uri Aloni was on one occasion - when Mr. Greyson was speaking - interrupted by hecklers from the Jewish Defence League. After repeated warnings, the hecklers were escorted out by security personnel.

On the other side, some major names in show business, including Natalie Portman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Kudrow Monday signed their names to a statement applauding TIFF for "including the Israeli film community in the Festival's City to City program. Anyone who has actually seen recent Israeli cinema ... knows they are in no way a propaganda arm for any government policy. Blacklisting them only stifles the exchange of cultural knowledge that artists should be the first to defend and protect."


M. Spector M. Spector's picture

miles wrote:

This was posted in another thread but jane fonda has renounced her participation in the toronto declaration

She seems to regret having signed it, but only because she disagrees with some of the wording. She has not repudiated the protest itself, and indeed her statement shows she is still sympathetic to it. She says the declaration has been misunderstood and distorted by its opponents.


Prominent US Rabbi Denounces TIFF Protest


"A prominent US Rabbi has entered the fray, strongly condemning a growing international protest against the Toronto International Film Festival's decision to highlight Tel Aviv in its City to City program. Rabbi Marvin Hier, named by Newsweek as the most influential rabbi in America labelled the protest by more than 65 artists and filmmakers "nonsense" and "a recipe that calls for the destruction of the state of Irael."

Canadian filmmakers including David Cronenberg, Norman Jewison and Robert Lantos also spoke out against the protest.."

More info on Rabbi Marvin Hier:




Yup, it was standing room only last night.  It was a really great evening, lots of people showed up.  And really strong statements from the participants. 

Just one security incident when they had to lead an obnoxious JDL disrupter from the room (to great applause and whistles).  But then, that's what Apartheid supporters are like.  Judy Rebick told the crowd that she had received so much hate mail since this TIFF thing that it gets overwhelming to take any sort of stand at all publicly that supports Palestinians.  Some freak even called her a "capo".  And yet, the apartheid supporters claim that Palestinian supporters are supporting censorship?

Yeah, I feel bad for Fonda, actually.  Considering what kind of hate mail Judy's been getting, I'm sure she's been getting far worse.  The artists and writers who spoke yesterday talked about how difficult it is to take a stand on this issue, because you get nothing but hate, and you have to go up against the Israeli apartheid propaganda machine which encourages it, falsely labels you an anti-semite, etc.  And it can actually affect your livelihood - they all saw what happened to Vanessa Redgrave for speaking out.  And one of them was saying that she had spoken to a number of celebrities who privately support what the declaration said, but they're just too afraid to say so publicly.  It's no wonder Fonda backed off a bit.  But you know, she didn't back off from the main point, which is that the Palestinians are being persecuted by Israel.

So yeah, miles, you guys won a partial victory with Fonda.  But you didn't with the others who showed up last night.


Skinny Dipper

It's great knowing that the Ryerson event went well.  I found out today that the United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto published a petition supporting TIFF's position and artistic expression.  However, I remember about three years ago their friends at B'nai Brith and the Canadian Jewish Congresw wanting to get a book banned from schools.  That book was Three Wishes by Deborah Ellis.  The book included thoughts from both Palestinian and Israeli children.  So much for free expression.  See my blogpost for more information: http://skinnydips.blogspot.com/2009/09/uja-blacklisting-them-only-stifle...

Skinny Dipper

Just to let everyone know that while I was typing on one computer, I was also watching on another computer an Israeli movie called Love and Dance.  It's a beautiful charming movie that I hope everyone will be able to see in Canada either on television or DVD. I have a PAL version which the dialogue is mostly in Hebrew with a little bit of Russian; the subtitles are in German.  I still understand the meaning of the story even if I don't understand the oral or written languages.

Love and Dance trailer (YouTube)


Michelle wrote:

Yup, it was standing room only last night.  It was a really great evening, lots of people showed up.  And really strong statements from the participants. 



Yeah and judging from the pictures, it was a who's-who of fat, ugly, bitter, homosexuals and feminists.  Way to go!


He's gone.



M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=http://www.rabble.ca/news/2009/09/open-letter-robert-lantos-defence-toro... open letter to Robert Lantos: In defence of the Toronto Declaration[/url]
by John Greyson, September 15, 2009

I especially liked this part:


You say that I'd end up dead if I showed my queer-themed films in Ramallah. Well, I guess you'll be surprised to learn that I've been invited to screen my films in Ramallah this coming year. You're welcome to attend -- you might find your sweeping generalizations about gay rights, the Arab world, Israel, Islam and homophobia don't even start to capture the complexity of what's going on.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=http://www.rabble.ca/rabbletv/program-guide/2009/09/features/canadian-je... filmmaker Elle Flanders slams TIFF's spotlight on Tel Aviv[/url] (YouTube)


Protest Toronto Film Festival Collusion with Israeli Regime


"One of the more scurrilous attacks was launched by Canadian film producer and fervent pro-zionist Robert Lantos, who accused the protesters of being "professional liars," regurgitating "terrorist slogans," "acting effectively as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's local fifth column" and having "taken a page straight out of the fascist propaganda hand-book.."

emails and contacts for TIFF and Lantos production house - express yourself


Michelle wrote:

So yeah, miles, you guys won a partial victory with Fonda.  But you didn't with the others who showed up last night.

Michelle did Miles help plan the counter stuff?

Interesting because Miles has on this board only been in favour of a 2 state solution. never thought he was an organizer

martin dufresne

Wow, TIFF organizers must have been real desperate to line up credible progressists! They have now been exposed by the CBC as having LIED about Neil Young's attendance - and performance! - at an outdoor screening of his concert film:

...Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young says he didn't cancel an appearance at the Toronto International Film Festival - because he never planned on being there in the first place.

Young, 63, has other commitments on Monday, when the new concert movie The Neil Young Trunk Show is scheduled to be screened outdoors for free at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square, according to a report in the Toronto Star.

"This is the first time I ever heard I was supposed to be there," Young told the Star, speaking from his California ranch.

The singer is notoriously eccentric about making public appearances, and representatives for the concert film confirmed he never agreed to come.

The official TIFF schedule and publicity materials had said Young would attend the outdoor screening and promised a performance afterward.

Now TIFF organizers are saying they'll line up a new musical act for the Monday screening....


Skinny Dipper

Here's my theory about TIFF's City to City program:

The City to City program is really an infomercial package for film goers.  TIFF buys a package of films at a subsidized rate (perhaps free) from Brand Israel.  These films are promoted by both TIFF and Brand Israel through the City to City program.  The two groups promote them as artistic ventures, but in reality the films are really infomercials promoting Israel.  TIFF gets the films cheaply; Brand Israel gets to promote Tel Aviv and the rest of feel good Israel.

I don't think TIFF got duped by Israel and I don' think TIFF is purposely promoting Israel.  TIFF has found a way to purchase a package of films cheaply and promote them in a collective campaign such as the City to City program.

Next year, TIFF will promote another city where it can purchase films cheaply through subsidies from another country brand campaign.


M. Spector wrote:

[url=http://www.rabble.ca/news/2009/09/open-letter-robert-lantos-defence-toro... open letter to Robert Lantos: In defence of the Toronto Declaration[/url]
by John Greyson, September 15, 2009

I especially liked this part:


You say that I'd end up dead if I showed my queer-themed films in Ramallah. Well, I guess you'll be surprised to learn that I've been invited to screen my films in Ramallah this coming year. You're welcome to attend -- you might find your sweeping generalizations about gay rights, the Arab world, Israel, Islam and homophobia don't even start to capture the complexity of what's going on.

John Greyson was arrested yesterday in Cairo, along with London (ON) emergency physician Tarek Loubani. They were apparently on their way to Gaza. Hope they're ok.




What an awesome mobilization via social media to get Tarek Loubani and John Greyson freed!

While we wait for that to happen, please take 15 minutes to watch John Greyson's "Covered", which he pulled from the 2009 TIFF in protest against its "spotlight" on Tel Aviv. It's strong stuff.



2 Canadians Held in Egypt Getting 2nd Consular Visit


"...The men were heading to Gaza, where Greyson was to explore the possibility of making a documentary and Loubani was taking part in a program that involved the training of local doctors. They were arrested upon their return to Cairo. Egyptian officials have not given a reason for their detainment..."


Egyptian Authorities Continue to Detain Canadian Filmmaker and Emergency Physician



[url=http://www.podur.org/node/1026]Update: Replying to far-fetched allegations, calling for immediate release [/url]