Open letter from Montreal filmmaker Malcolm Guy to the Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québecois

February 14th, 2008 | Posted in Boycott, Lebanon, Palestine, Politics, Resistance, Solidarity
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    behind the prize “for tolerance” hides intolerance…

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    public letter from Montreal filmmaker Malcolm Guy

With this letter I would like to officially withdraw as a member of the jury for the 2008 Prize of the Alex and Ruth Dworkin Foundation for the Promotion of Tolerance through Cinema (2008 Prix annuel de la Fondation Alex et Ruth Dworkin pour la promotion de la tolérance à travers le cinéma) at the Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québecois.

For those who may not be aware, this prize, which includes a grant of $5000, “goes to a producer representing the production team which has best demonstrated, in the winning work, a message of comprehension and tolerance”.

I accepted the invitation from the Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québecois to join this year’s jury in good faith. But after examining in more detail the political and financial basis of the prize I must refuse to have my name associated with it. Behind this noble sounding “award for tolerance” hides a story of intolerance, division and discrimination.

Firstly, I quit the jury because the Prix annuel de la Fondation Alex and Ruth Dworkin is an initiative of the Congrès juif canadien, Région du Québec, an organization which I consider to be a vehicle for the Israeli propaganda machine and fundamentally intolerant of dissent and difference, particularly when it comes to Israeli government policies.

One case in point is the refusal of the national leadership of the Congrès juif canadian (CJC) to accept a recent membership application from the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians (ACJC).

ACJC members “joined together to create a cross-Canada alliance of Jewish anti-occupation forces… whose views are not represented by the government of Israel or by the uncritical positions taken by the leadership of the major Jewish organizations in Canada.”

In an open letter to the Jewish communities of Canada signed by over 100 members and supporters the ACJC states: “Israel continues to pursue a primarily military strategy while claiming to speak in the name of Jewish people around the world. … Canadians, especially Jewish Canadians, seeking a peaceful resolution to the seemingly endless Israel-Palestinian conflict should no longer remain silent in the face of Israel’s actions in the Occupied Territories.”

Secondly, I quit the jury because I have discovered that Alex and Ruth Dworkin are major backers of the Jewish National Fund (JNF). On the JNF web site they are listed among a select group of people “who have demonstrated an enduring commitment to Israel and JNF” by contributing $1 million and above to this Zionist institution.

Much has been written about the role of the JNF, but suffice it to say that this organization, under the guise of reforestation and land purchase, has been used by the Israeli state to cover up and legitimize the massive displacement of the Palestinian people and the occupation of their land. One example is Canada Park, located a short distance from Jerusalem. In a documentary widely shown on Canadian television entitled “Park with no peace,” it was revealed that this JNF-sponsored park, using tax-deductible money raised in Canada, was built on the remains of the Palestinian villages of Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba.

CBC TV’s the fifth estate stated that some 10,000 Palestinians were forcibly removed by the Israeli armed forces from the land that was eventually turned into Canada Park. As a former member of the Israeli parliament who was interviewed put it, “Canadians were used to cover-up a war crime.”

I cannot be associated with people who finance such forms of intolerance and oppression. This is particularly so as Israeli troops lay siege on the people of Gaza causing intolerable shortages of electricity, fuel, food and other basic necessities — a situation which I protested along with hundreds of other Montrealers last Saturday.

I believe that the Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québécois should drop its affiliation with the Alex and Ruth Dworkin Foundation and the CJC. This award and award money is tainted, thus casting a negative light on the Festival.

My desire to withdraw from the jury is not a comment on the films that have been nominated for the “prix de la tolérance”. I am sure the nominated films are a fine example of what the best of Quebec cinema has to offer and the filmmakers and producers were guided by a true sense of justice and tolerance. But I do hope that they will take into account the points I have raised in this letter and will be guided by their conscience.

    Malcolm Guy
    Filmmaker / Producer
    Montréal, Tuesday, February 12, 2008

* MALCOLM GUY is a director and producer of documentary and fiction films, President and Co-Founder of Productions Multi-Monde. Malcolm is active in immigrant rights organisations and in the independent film community and sits on several Boards of Directors. He contributed to establishing the international film fest Rencontres International du Documentaire de Montréal (RIDM), the Observatoire du Documentaire, the new distribution company Les Films du 3 Mars, and is active in DOC (the Documentary Organisation of Canada). Malcolm’s films look at a variety of local and international issues, with a particular interest in the Philippines. He is a founding member of the Centre for Philippine Concerns in Montreal.

4 Comments »

It is with great sadness that I read you letter.You could not be more wrong in your accusations against the state of Israel.It seems that you have deliberately neglected the underlying issues which have placed Palestinians in their current condition.
Hamas and other Palestinian organizations are an example of why Palestinians have no future.This has very little or nothing to do with Israel.In fact if Palestinians were led into a world without violence by their leaders and instead co operated as good neighbours with Israel than there would have been a very prosperous Palestinian population.The crime is to neglect what an alliance between Israel and Palestinians could produce.But this will never happen as long as there are those who would rather promote self serving ideologies,as is the case for Hamas and their coomon allies,such as Irans Ahamadinejad,Hezbollah and co.

Ironically your editorial has been published by one of the most venomous hate sites that exists against Jews and Israel.MONA BAKER is an example of an organization that actually promotes hate and bias against Israel no matter how distorted.

As for your belief that Jwish voices in Canada are being muted andactually support your position in referring to Israel as a ZIONIST STATE which you equate ZIONISM with some type of oppression ,could not be further from the truth..Jews in Canada overwhelmingly support Israel and its right ro exist.Further to this Jews in Canada do not deflect the truth in the manner that you have in your letter.Jews know that there should be a place for Palestinians,but unlike your position,they also are aware of the evil and self serving ambitions of Palestinian leaders and those countries that support the ongoing terror tactics that hurt Palestinians as well as theuir intended targets being JEWS in Israel.

I find your position to be quite biased and prejudicial.If I were you I would be concerned that organizations such as Mona Baker are using you as a weapon against Israel instead of a tool to bring about peace.I remind you again that Mona Baker has included some off the most racist and biased accounts of Israel.

One example is how MONA BAKER diminished the significance of the JEWISH HOLOCAUST by referring to it as an “excuse for Jews”.Yet in the same breath MONA BAKER uses a less than credible NORMAN FINKLESTEIN as a trophy being the son of a HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR who has chosen to attack both Jews and Israel.
So on the one hand using the holocaust is considered to be bad,but when it serves the interests of hate groups such as MONA BAKER than it is OK!

SICK

i WILL FORWARD YOUR LETTER TO MEDIA OUTLETS ACROSS CANADA AND THE U.S
Thank yoiu

Comment by Ahmad Yaqeen — February 15th, 2008 @ 11:14 AM

Dear Mr. Guy,

I applaud your stand not to associate your name with a group whose objective was and still is the displacement of indigenous people and replace them with their own.

Unfortunately, Zionists use good and noble words as a cover up to their hideous goals. In your case, it was a prize for tolerance from those who don’t know the meaning of tolerance.

Israel’s war crimes over the last 40 years are innumerous. But for those who still support its cause and propagate its claims about peace; can you explain why your peace loving nation still militarily occupy lands from three of its five neighboring countries? Why that peace loving nation didn’t accept the Arab Peace Initiative that was unanimously adopted by all Arab countries in 2002, was adopted by the Organization of Islamic Countries; an organization of 57 Islamic countries in 2006, and was again unanimously reconfirmed by all Arab countries in 2007?

Once again, Mr. Guy, let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for your high moral values and your courage to stand against oppression, occupation, and intolerance.

Sincerely,

Amro Gamal
Ottawa, Ontario

Comment by Amro Gamal — February 20th, 2008 @ 11:34 AM

Dear Mr. Guy,

I would like to commend you on your courage shown in the public letter above, and for your action against intolerance.

Nelson Mandela wrote a letter to Thomas L. Friedman (columnist, New York Times) some years ago. In that letter he stated the following: ” If you follow the polls in Israel for the last 30 or 40 years, you clearly find a vulgar racism that includes a third of the population who openly declare themselves to be racist. This racism is of the nature
of “I hate Arabs” and “I wish Arabs would be dead”. If you also follow the judicial system in Israel you will see there is discrimination against Palestinians, and if you further consider the 1967 occupied territories you will find there are already two judicial systems in operation that represent two different approaches to human life: one for Palestinian life and the other for Jewish life. Additionally there are two different approaches to property and to land. Palestinian property is not recognised as private property because it can be confiscated.
Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of
Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law.”

Davoud Zelman

Comment by Davoud Zelman — February 21st, 2008 @ 3:55 AM

Monsieur Guy,

Bravo ! Je vous félicite de votre décision de vous retirer de tout lien avec ce prix … votre retrait a du poids, je me ferai le courroie de diffusion de votre lettre vers mes ami.es qui oeuvrent d,une manière ou d’une autre, de près ou de loin, dans ce domaine du documentaire, et plus généralement du cinéma.

Je vois dans les réactions à votre retrait qu’il y a encore des gens qui veulent débattre et comparer des atrocités, etc. J’en ai marre de toute cette attitude et du comportement de cour d’école des plus vociférateurs défendeurs de l’État Israélien.
Celui-ci, vu de nombreux milliers de km, semble étonnament avoir passé à côté de la leçon de compassion et d’empathie et d’acceptation à laquelle les naïfs des régions éloignés (ceux et celles pour qui un juif est tout à fait exotique, puisque les plus près vivent à un millier de km de chez nous, soit à Montréal…) à laquelle on se serait attendu de leur part.

Les excuses, les défaites, les dates et les détails impertinents que nous servetn les Israéliens comme arguments, on ne veut plus les entendre, ils sont irrecevables à côté tdu comportement de l’État Israélien et de sa proximité malsaine avec les GRAND terrisiste : les États-Unis. Les Israéeliens traitent mal les Palestiniens, impunément entre autres à cause du Canada, et ces actes sont sans excuses. Les attentats que subissent Israël sont tout à fait comrpréhensibles, vu l’extrémité dans laquelle on repousse les Palestiniens, vu le traitement qui leur est quotidiennement infligé et, désolée pour les juifs qui veulent s’obstiner là-dessus, ça fait assez longtemps que ça dure pour qu’on puisse se faire une opinion … La mienne n’en a que faire des micro-justifications à l’Israélienne pour leur comportement de brutes trop souvent sanguinaires envers les Palestiniens, alors que le désespoir qui fait mourir les Palestinien, LUI, est qualifé de terrorisme …

Vue de la Côte-Nord, même vu de Montréal, vue d’un simple personne qui n’est PAS experte en politique internationale mais qui fait très fort dans la compassion et l’humanisme, il y a une brute et une victime : la première c’est l’État (et surtout le gouvernement) d’Israel, acoquiné aux terrorisme états-unien; la seconde, ce sont tous les Israeliens de bonne volonté (et ils et elles sont nombreux, dont les victimes des ripostes désespérées et violentes de la part des Palestieniens) et, bien sûr, tout le peuple Palestinien, ses hommes, ses femmes, ses enfants, ses territoires, sa sruvive, son honneur, sa fierté, sa culture ………….

Merci M. Guy de vous tenir debout pour la justice et vos principes et de donner un exemple ce faisant aux autres Québécois !

LCB :-)

Comment by Bergeron, Louise Caroline — February 27th, 2008 @ 6:13 PM

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