Dora McPhee (VIC) responds to McGreal’s article “Israel’s PR push divides stars at film festival” The Age, 19Sep09 September 19, 2009

The Age: “Israel’s PR push divides stars at film festival” by Chris McGreal, The Age, 19 September 2009

Jane Fonda’s U-turn protest indicates either a caving into pressure or a lack of moral clarity as it beggars belief that she did not read what she was so publicly signed up to.

The Israeli government has made no secret of its “Brand Israel” campaign as a political tool to change negative perceptions about Israel and using the Toronto Film Festival’s showcasing of Tel Aviv to do so. The protest letter Fonda initially signed could not have been clearer. This was a protest specifically against the use of a cultural forum to whitewash Israel to the world in the wake of Israel’s brutal occupation culminating in the shocking assault on Gaza.

Even now, as Justice Richard Goldstone’s damming report confirms and reinforces multiple previous reports that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed, Israel is putting pressure on the US to shield it from censure. And the US envoy to the UN, Ambassador Susan Rice is already indicating the US will do just that, which would mean once again a damming
report of egregious human rights violations will find its way to the dustbin of history.

Goldstone’s report indicates not just war crimes but crimes of such a degree that they go beyond the victims and harm humanity as a whole. This makes Jane Fonda’s back down highly significant as her excuse that the protest was “unnecessarily inflammatory” shows her inability to see such crimes warrant a courageous stand to speak truth to power to shake people out of their apathy or complicity, particularly when our governments are loathe to bring Israel to account.

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