Article in response | Trengove

 Writing to the upcoming Israeli LGBT Tel Aviv film festival, John Trengove wrote … “It is with sincere regret that I have to inform you that I will not be attending…” 

Clearly, there is a lot to regret for his decision.  The first is that he decided not to attend, following his being approached by “activist organisations” urging him to respect the cultural boycott against Israel.  

While parading as “human rights” movements, those calling for boycotts of Israel, have no problem also calling to “Shoot the Jew”, as the BDS movement did at a concert held at Wits University.   While in certain instances there may be a clear line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, this line is without failure, blurred by these “activist” organisations.  They have even been denounced by pro-Palestinian organisations for their stance against South African Jews. 

The second “regret” is that by supporting a cultural boycott against Israel, he is widening the gap between the parties to the conflict, rather than bringing the parties together.  The festival organisers have gone on record to say that the festival “strives towards equality and tolerance regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, or political view.” 

Not only, are cultural boycotts useless, but in fact they undermine genuine initiatives of peace by bringing people together and resolving conflicts. It is for this reason that leading artists from around the world of great moral stature continue to perform and support Israel.  

Our third regret is that Trengove did not see fit to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories, and see for himself the reality.  He would have gotten a very different view than the one fed to him by the “civil society” who approached him not to go.  Perhaps he would have gotten a first-hand account of the issues facing both sides and ways in which the parties themselves would like to see issues resolved. 

Our fourth regret is around the hypocrisy he is showing, specifically with regard in failing to highlight the real issues experienced by the LGBT community in the Middle East.  It is ironic that he is boycotting a country where LGBT rights are safeguarded by law.   This in light of the fact that LGBT communities continue to be murdered by ISIS and Hamas just 200km away from Tel Aviv. 

Ben Swartz

National Chairman of the SA Zionist Federation