Photo: Instagram screenshot
German Film Festival

Film directors denounced alleged Israeli ‘apartheid’ as well as the ongoing ‘genocide’ in Gaza.

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

German politicians and Israel’s Ambassador in Berlin expressed disgust on Monday after the Berlinale annual film festival ended over the weekend with a series of speeches by film directors denouncing alleged Israeli “apartheid” as well as the ongoing “genocide” in Gaza at an awards ceremony.

One filmmaker — the American director Ben Russell, whose documentary “Direct Action” was shown at the festival — sparked particular ire when he took to the stage wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh scarf.

“Of course we also stand for life here and we stand against genocide and for a cease-fire in solidarity with all our comrades,” Russell declared to applause and cheers from the audience.

Another American director, Eliza Hittman, invoked her Jewish identity to condemn Israel’s defensive war in the Gaza Strip, triggered by the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in Israel that claimed the lives of more than 1,200 people.

“As a Jewish filmmaker who won the Silver Bear in 2020, it is important for me to be here,” Hittman said. “There is no just war, and the more people try to convince themselves there’s a just war, the more they commit a grotesque act of self-deception.”

Separately, Israeli director Yuval Abraham — who co-directed the film “No Other Land” with his Palestinian colleague Basel Adra — called for a “political solution to end the occupation.”

Said Abraham: “I’m Israeli, Basel is Palestinian. In two days, we return to a land where we aren’t equal. I’m living under civilian law, and Basel lives under military law. We live 30 minutes from one another, but I have voting rights. Basel does not have voting rights.” He added: “This situation of apartheid between us, this inequality has to end. We need to call for a ceasefire.”

On Monday, festival organizers said it planned to file criminal charges against a group of hackers whom they claim broke into their Instagram account to spread pro-Palestinian messages.

One post declared, “Genocide is Genocide. We are all complicit,” while another stated: “From our unresolved Nazi past to our genocidal present — we have always been on the wrong side of history. But it’s not too late to change our future.”

Responding to the scenes at the festival, Israel’s Ambassador in Germany, Ron Prosor, declared in a post on X/Twitter that the lessons from the 2022 Documenta art festival, where a series of antisemitic artworks were on display, had not been absorbed.

“Once again, the German cultural scene showcases its bias by rolling out the red carpet exclusively for artists who promote the delegitimization of Israel,” Prosor wrote.

In a separate statement, the Central Council of German Jews expressed regret that the festival — one of the most prestigious international events in the film world alongside the Venice and Cannes film festivals — was being “misused for ideological agitation against Israel and Jews.

“Hatred against Israel and Jews at German cultural events has become a terrifying regularity,” the council said.

German politicians who condemned the festival included Berlin’s Mayor Kai Wegner, who stated that “what happened yesterday at the Berlinale was an unacceptable relativization. There is no place for antisemitism in Berlin, and that also applies to the arts.” Meanwhile, the German capital’s minister for culture, Joe Chialo, said that the awards ceremony at the festival was “characterized by self-righteous anti-Israeli propaganda.”