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Israeli Consul General and Frameline

Israeli Consul General and Frameline

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Published by Tom Léger
3/10/2011

COMMUNITY ACTION

RESPONDING COLLECTIVELY TO ONGOING THREATS OF COMMUNITY IDENTITY

As a community event with an annual attendance of 60,000, Frameline film festival is the most prominent and well-attended LGBT cultural arts program in the San Francisco Bay Area. An ongoing threat to boycott the Festival due to the inclusion and support of Israeli culture provides a community organizing model to learn from. This document provides a summary of how one organized Jewish community continu
3/10/2011

COMMUNITY ACTION

RESPONDING COLLECTIVELY TO ONGOING THREATS OF COMMUNITY IDENTITY

As a community event with an annual attendance of 60,000, Frameline film festival is the most prominent and well-attended LGBT cultural arts program in the San Francisco Bay Area. An ongoing threat to boycott the Festival due to the inclusion and support of Israeli culture provides a community organizing model to learn from. This document provides a summary of how one organized Jewish community continu

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Published by: Tom Léger on Mar 22, 2012
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04/26/2012

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3/10/2011
As a community event with an annual attendance of 60,000, Frameline film festival is the most prominent andwell-attended LGBT cultural arts program in the San Francisco Bay Area. An ongoing threat to boycott theFestival due to the inclusion and support of Israeli culture provides a community organizing model to learnfrom. This document provides a summary of how one organized Jewish community continuously responds andprepares for ongoing threats of identity in a peaceful and collective manner. Included in the following pages aresome of the published and unpublished statements and reactions. Additionally included are a few behind thepress interactions between community lay leaders and professional staff to comprehensively ensure thatgeneral support for this local festival continues along with the ongoing inclusion of Israeli programs.
 
C
OMMUNITY
A
CTION
 
RESPONDING COLLECTIVELY TO ONGOINGTHREATS OF COMMUNITY IDENTITY
 
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Standing with Frameline
ISSUE:
 
VOL.
 
41
 
 / 
 
NO.
 
10
 
 / 
 
10
 
MARCH 
 
 2011
The Israeli Consulate's past financial support of Frameline, the acclaimed and long-running LGBT film festival, touchedoff a dustup in the
Bay Area Reporter 
's letters to the editor. The calls by some LGBT filmmakers and other activists for a"cultural boycott" of this year's festival is misguided because it holds Frameline responsible for the government of Israel.We stand with Frameline in its past decisions to accept the support of the Israeli Consulate and we urge readers tosupport Frameline as well. Frameline is currently in the process of selecting films for this summer's festival and has notyet confirmed any from Israel.We support an important San Francisco LGBT institution
 –
Frameline
 –
as it endeavors to present some of the mostcutting edge and important LGBT films to its audiences. Frameline is an arts and culture organization, it does not takeformal political positions on any country or culture. A boycott to force Frameline to refuse grants from the IsraeliConsulate will not solve the differences between Israelis and Palestinians. Executive Director K.C. Price noted that thefestival's aim is promoting LGBT voices from around the world. Price also pointed out that Israeli films screened byFrameline often have highly critical points of view about their own country. Three years ago, Frameline screened (andnow distributes)
Citizen Nawi 
, a documentary about a tireless Israeli activist who champions Palestinians living in theSouth Hebron Hills.Frameline's mission is to strengthen and further the diverse LGBT world community by supporting and promoting abroad array of cultural representations and artistic expression in film, video, and other media arts. It usually receivesfinancial support from one or more consulates each year. Over the past decade, Frameline received funds from theIsraeli Consulate approximately four times, which was mostly used to pay for travel and related expenses to SanFrancisco for prominent LGBT Israeli filmmakers such as Eytan Fox (
Yossi and Jaeger 
) and Tomer Heymann (
Paper Dolls
).Last year the festival screened two feature length films from Israel, a narrative (
Eyes Wide Open
) and a documentary(
Gay Days
); and with a $1,500 grant from the consulate, Frameline flew in Yair Qedar, the director of 
Gay Days
.Significantly, Israel is the only country in the Middle East that affords legal rights to gays and lesbians. It has allowedopen military service for years. It has no sodomy laws or vague statutes like "offenses against religion" or "immoralconduct." In contrast, same-sex sexual activity is punishable in many Middle Eastern countries, where there is norecognition of our relationships, no adoption, and no anti-discrimination laws. Gays fleeing persecution in Palestineusually go to Israel.A cultural boycott of Frameline will only hurt the organization and not bring peace or settle long-standing disputes in theMiddle East. Life in Israel is undoubtedly not perfect for lesbians and gays
 –
just as it's not perfect for LGBTs in the U.S.
 –
 at least it is a democracy that struggles to support gay rights and is willing to submit to self-criticism by its citizens. If anything, Frameline, in its capacity as a film presenter, is able to foster open dialogue about the current politicalsituation in Israel.By reaching out to Frameline in previous years, the Israeli Consulate has shown a willingness to support out filmmakers,even those who may tell a story the government doesn't like. While gay and lesbian issues usually go unaddressed or arecondemned in the Middle East, Israel's support of Frameline is an example we'd like to see other countries emulate.

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