You know, it is getting pretty tiresome to read these jokers. The twists and turns of misrepresenting history, the deceit or at least serious confusion involved in claiming they are the victims of some insidious campaign, the mysterious link to Palestine House and the constant harping on Israel’s supposed crimes while ignoring the Palestinian side of things is simply bad form. It’s propaganda, but couldn’t they at least deal with the issues with more integrity?

Today’s media circus comes from Kathy Wazana. I haven’t a clue who she is. One website says about her,

“Kathy Wazana is a food writer and cooking instructor, a translator and an editor, a festival programmer and a budding filmmaker who has lived in Morocco, France, Canada and Israel-Palestine. She is currently in transition between all of these spaces and places. A life-long human rights and peace activist, Kathy has spearheaded several joint Jewish-Arab community-building initiatives, including the Playgrounds for Peace Fund, the Just Peace Seder and Mimouna, and Cooks for Peace. Her current work focuses on Jewish-Arab relations in Morocco and in Israel-Palestine.”

Cool, she’s Moroccan.

But somebody still needs to tell her there is no such place as “Israel-Palestine.”

Here’s the only photo of her I could find.

Here’s a recipe she published for Moroccan chicken with olives. Yum!

Before I forget, here is our own ck’s mom’s superb shakshouka recipe.

Here’s an article Wazana published in the Toronto Star today where she pretends it’s tough to criticize Israel. It’s entitled, “To criticize Israel is a dangerous thing in today’s Canada.”

Ah, Wazana is clearly not just a cook, a filmmaker and a human rights activist, or a member of the original signatories on the protest letter to Toronto International Film Festival for showing the Tel Aviv slate of films, she is also a master of drama. Danger indeed! She writes,

In the week since the publication of the letter [the open letter protesting TIFF’s inclusion of a program of films from Tel Aviv] , the authors of the letter have been called hypocrites, censors and, worse, anti-Semites. A ludicrous charge: five of the eight are Jewish and one is an Israeli.

These accusations seek to intimidate us into silence and shut down substantive discussion. This, ironically, is the very charge that is being levelled at us.

It’s hard not to see these attacks as part of a deliberate strategy to divert attention from the real issues, namely Israel’s gross violations of human rights and disregard for international law and, in this instance, the hijacking of Toronto’s premier cultural event and putting it at the service of Israel’s political agenda.

Um, wrong.

Nobody is trying to “silence” anybody or shut down “substantive” discussion. You folks are being called out for taking an extreme position on issues that are far from clear cut and where in some cases you have, through omission, made claims that are unjustifiable.

You folks are being criticized for encouraging censorship, whether you admit that you seek such censorship or not. A letter that compares Israel to South Africa and Israel’s actions to South African apartheid in the context of criticizing a slate of films at a film festival, is not a letter that merely seeks to bring up some history. It is a call to action. It is also a warning to any other film festivals and their directors who seek to put on Israeli films that they will encounter fierce criticism in the media.

The targeting of Israeli films shown in a program at a major film festival is also a call to audiences to view those films as your group wishes them to be viewed and not as they would be viewed without your politicization of those films. Your group has set the agenda and nobody who will enter the cinemas to watch those films will be able to disengage your criticisms of Israel from their viewing. You have damaged the work of these filmmakers by doing this.

You have also falsely connected their films to the “destroyed Palestinian villages” upon which Tel Aviv supposedly resides. Never mind that this is highly misrepresentative of Tel Aviv’s history – the bulk of its land was never Palestinian land or was purchased outright – or the manner in which these “destroyed Palestinian villages” fell into Israeli hands (the villagers abandoned them before the ’48 war even began). Anybody reading your group’s letter will enter those films with false impressions.

You have created the terms of the debate, ugly and false terms, but now you wish to present yourselves as victims of those who would respond.

Your article in the Toronto Star twists and distorts facts. The “deliberate strategy” is not your critics’, because it is clear that they/we are individuals responding individually to your GROUP. On the other hand, your well-organized group (you can see the 2008 Youtube videos where Naomi Klein opens the meeting for Toronto Jews who were planning, as she said in her speech – I’m paraphrasing – to ensure that there would be no celebration of Israel’s longevity and that such celebration should be met with confrontation) is not only functioning as a group but appears to be backed by a Palestinian organization, Palestine House, which may have ties to the Palestinian Authority. Who possesses the “deliberate strategy” again?

This “deliberate strategy” is intended to politicize the City to City program and to put all film festivals on notice about putting on Israeli films in the future. It is YOUR GROUP’s “deliberate strategy” to “hijack Toronto’s premier cultural event” and to “put it at the service of the Palestinians’ political agenda.”

Your steps echo everything I’ve now read about what took place in Toronto just a few months ago when the people you apparently work with at Palestine House helped to “politicize” a cultural exhibition of Dead Sea Scrolls. There, too, a “premier cultural” venue was involved in something that related to Israel and there too suddenly there was politicization of an event that had nothing to do with politics.

Well, I guess it is political if somebody wants to hide that these 2000 year old documents from the Judean Desert are written in Hebrew and contain biblical books. Who would be interested in covering that up?

So please spare us the misrepresentations about who politicized what.

Wazana adds the obligatory,

“TIFF singled out Israel for a celebratory spotlight, and its timing could not have been worse, in view of the ongoing settlement and colonization of Palestinian lands, of the continued construction of the wall that is enclosing the Palestinian population of the West Bank in a series of claustrophobic, prison-like enclaves, of the daily acts of humiliation and violations of the rights and the dignity of old and young alike, and, most recently, of the lethal assault on Gaza that left 1,400 Palestinian women, men and children dead.”

We’ll disagree about this. The timing for the program is perfect. Tel Aviv is a miracle and it is celebrating 100 years of that miracle. The rest of your claims are put to rest by the simple fact that Israel offered peace and a state to the Palestinians in 2000, 2001 and 2008 (also covered in another post).

It is Palestinian terrorism and violence toward Israelis that have created the Security Barrier, the stifling checkpoints and the “prison-like” enclaves. Without such measures, hundreds and probably thousands more Israelis would be dead – prior to Israel’s return to the areas that were under Palestinian control in the West Bank, Palestinians were averaging about 150 murders of Israelis each month (take a look at the stats for the first three months of 2002). In fact, what made Israel finally go back in was the March, 2002 massacre of over 30 Jews who were attending a Passover seder in a hotel.

But it is your final sentence in that paragraph that is emblematic of your group’s entire campaign. Why do you call the Gaza campaign a “lethal assault” without mentioning the thousands of lethal assaults by Hamas and other Gazan groups upon Israel civilians in the Western Negev that preceded Israel’s attack? Why do you not mention the years that Israel waited before launching this “assault” to stem the rocket attacks on its civilians? Why do you not mention that Hamas had advanced its technology to the point where its rockets reached Ashdod and Beer Sheva, two of Israel’s largest cities? Why do you list 1400 “women, men and children” when the vast majority of the Palestinians killed were young men most of whom were Hamas fighters of which many fought the Israelis from within a civilian population as part of Hamas’s strategy? Do you not care that Hamas cynically put its own civilians at risk to elicit sympathetic media or misleading accusations such as yours? Why do you not mention that even left-wing groups like B’Tzelem have disavowed the Palestinian casualty figures, never mind the IDF’s stats which claim only 1100 were killed, three quarters of whom were Hamas fighters, or the ICT center in Herzeliya which uses the Palestinians’ own figures and thereby reveals that even using their inflated claims, around three quarters of the dead were young men who fit the profile of Hamas fighters?

At the very least, the misrepresentation of facts and the omission of other pertinent facts, smack of propaganda. That you actually claim to be a victim after your group launched this campaign, appears to be nothing less than a cynical desire to extend the debate and gain more media exposure.

Naomi Klein, from your group, is quoted in today’s Toronto Star as saying she is not promoting the destruction of Israel.

Here are questions that somebody needs to ask Klein and Wazana and Greyson et al:

1. Are you affiliated with Palestine House, as the phone number for the media contact on the protest organizers’ press release indicates?

2. If so, why do you hide this fact in your open letters, interviews and press releases?

3. If your group is affiliated with Palestine House in Toronto, why are you involved with a group that openly advocates (as seen on their web site) a single state solution?

4. How aware are you that the timing of Palestine House’s actions with another cultural event in Toronto indicates they either work with or are strongly influenced by the Palestinian Authority, whose charter refuses to concede that Israel is a Jewish state or that Jews have a history in the region?

5. Are these views reconcilable with one of your group members, Naomi Klein’s, claims that your group is not advocating for the destruction of Israel?

6. Or was this simply another semantic game by your group and what Klein meant was that you do not seek the destruction of Israel as a state but you have no objection to its demise as a Jewish state?

Here you are, Kathy Wazana, facing some simple questions. I won’t hold my breath for a response, but if you want a “substantive discussion,” we have an open forum here where you can tell us whatever you like.

Shabbat shalom.

For more Jewlicious reading about this:

Is The Toronto Film Festival Protest Organized by Palestine House, an Investigative Report

Exposing Naomi Klein’s Denials About Trying to Censor or Boycott Toronto International Film Festival. No, no, no, it was just our imaginations

Response to the “protest” letter against TIFF, 2009

Response to John Greyson’s letter to TIFF, 2009

Olmert’s offer to the Palestinians

Abbas choosing to stall on peace talks. Again.

The PA did not change its charter as per their Oslo obligations. This was recently publicly confirmed before the Fatah conference by two of Fatah’s leaders including Dahlan.

Israel’s peace offer at Taba.

Six Day War Anniversary Post

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