Joint press release on the Israeli Film Festival boycott and attempted police ban


Human rights supporters continue their call for a boycott of the Israeli Film festival, despite NSW Police seeking to ban the protest planned for the opening night of the event on Thursday 21 August at the Palace Verona Cinema in Oxford St, Paddington.

Despite the notification being lodged with police within the stipulated time frame last Thursday 14 August, police lawyers sought an adjournment today, Monday August 18, in the Supreme Court of NSW to enable them to prepare documentation. This was granted till Tuesday 19 August.

In the wake of the latest horrific attack on Gaza and the death of some 2,000 Palestinians (many of them civilians and children), a coalition of Australian groups seeking justice for Palestinians have called on the Palace cinemas to end their support for the Israeli Film Festival. The film festival is sponsored by the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE) – a body supported by the Israeli government and sponsored by the Israeli Embassy in Australia.

“AICE’s activities, including this film festival, are part of a deliberate public relations strategy by the Israeli government and its supporters to present Israel in a favourable light and to disguise its oppressions of Palestinians and theft of their land,” said Vivienne Porszolt, from Jews against the Occupation Sydney, one of the groups organising Thursday’s protest.

“Over 1000 people have signed a petition calling on Palace cinemas to cease their association with this Festival, which is directly linked to and funded by the Israeli government via their Embassy here. As such, it is a vehicle used to whitewash the crimes that this government is responsible for,” added Ophelia Haragli, another protest organiser, from the Sydney Palestine Action Group.

“In line with the call from Palestinian civil society for a global cultural, academic and economic boycott of Israel, Australians are increasingly supporting the BDS strategy as a lawful, non-violent and effective strategy that people of the world can use to defend Palestinian rights,” said Nick Riemer from Sydney Staff for BDS, a University of Sydney staff group that promotes the boycott of Israel and is helping organise the protest.

Organisers are planning a peaceful and lawful demonstration on Thursday evening. They condemn the police’s effort to deny their freedom of assembly and expression.

Organisers have stressed that the protest is against an activity sponsored by the Israeli government and local supporters. It is in no way against Jews or Israelis as such.

“Where Western governments, especially the US and our own government in Australia have totally failed to hold Israel to account, indeed have supported their defiance of international law, civil society is obliged to act,” said Damian Ridgwell from Palestine Action Group.

Link to petition:

For further information, contact:

Vivienne Porszolt (Jews against the Occupation) 0411 366 295

Ophelia Haragli (Palestine Action Group) 0410 782 263

Nick Riemer (Sydney Staff for BDS) 0481 339 937

Damian Ridgwell (Palestine Action Group) 0408 369 182

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