The Brussels Jewish International Film Festival, which runs from 28 October to 2 November, is held under the slogal Sous Le Meme Soleil (Under One Sun), referring to the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis.
“It is with astonishment that the UPJB saw the Israeli and American embassies partnering in the festival of Sous Le Meme Soleil (Under One Sun)”, the UPJB wrote in a statement. “[Festival organisers] contact(ed) us to participate in this event, the purpose of which was to promote film productions that highlight the relationship between people who live on the land of Israel/Palestine. We agreed in principle. In no way did IMAJ (festival organisers) announce the involvement of embassies.”
The statement continues: “We discovered afterwards the patronage of the Israeli embassy...and the absence of the Palestinian embassy, the participation of which would have provided coherence to the overall theme of reconciling people living in Israel/Palestine. We felt trapped and have finally decided to cut all ties to the festival.”
“In no way do we endorse Israel as an occupying and colonising state”, the UPJB notes. The union “adheres to the international call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) aimed, as in the past vis-a-vis the South African apartheid regime, to exert peaceful pressure on Israel to force it to comply with international law. This does not prevent us from regularly organising, as we have always done, public events with Israeli artists, intellectuals and activists who interest us, for example because they criticise the government's policies. Boycott applies not to groups and individuals with Israeli citizenship, but to the occupation policy of the Israeli government and all it entails”.