A call to the Ankara Film Festival: Reject sponsorship from Israel

Dear organizers of the Ankara Film Festival,

Before the ink is even dry on our call to the Istanbul Film Festival and Istanbul Music Festival to boycott Israel, we have learnt with regret that Israel will again be a sponsor of a major festival – this time, the 29th Ankara Film Festival, which will run from 19 to 29 April. First of all, let us note that it has not escaped our attention that you left the announcement regarding sponsors until the very end and that the sponsors’ logos on the festival site are far smaller this year in comparison to previous years.

Given that dozens of Palestinians have been killed and hundreds more have been wounded by Israeli soldiers during peaceful Great Return marchesin Gazaover the last three weeks, we have great difficulty in understanding your insistence in accepting Israel’s sponsorship and your indifference to the boycott calls from Palestinians.

We will never grow tired of reiterating what has occurred: There are any number of states whose actions toward people cannot be approved, but Israel is in a league of its own. On the historical lands of Palestine, Israel has slaughtered the Palestinians and created an occupying state by removing them from their homes and sending them into exile. It is also a bandit state that, during its long period of occupation, has completely ignored countless UN resolutions, as well as international law. Today, almost all of the Palestinians’ historical land is under Israeli occupation, while two-thirds of three generations of Palestinians are refugees.

As Gaza struggles under the most humiliating siege since 2008, a wall of discrimination known as the “Apartheid Wall,” which is twice the height of the Berlin Wall and three times its length, is rising in the West Bank, turning Palestinians’ lives into hell – all in spite of rulings from the International Court of Justice, which has declared it illegal and demanded its demolition. Meanwhile, Palestinians who are Israeli citizens – people whom Israel failed to drive from their territory despite all manners of oppression – are subjected to racist policies in terms of education, employment, property ownership and every other aspect of life. Even people who have compared South Africa’s apartheid regime and Israel’s current measures against the Palestinians note that Israel’s actions are worse than Pretoria’s under racist white rule.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which was founded by Palestinians and includes many Jews who criticize the Israeli state and its policies, as well as the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), call on all conscientious people who oppose occupation to boycott Israel until the country ends its occupation, allows Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and ends its discriminatory policies against Palestinians who are citizens of Israel.

By sponsoring academic and cultural events, Israel is attempting to conceal its massacres, racist policies, wall of discrimination and siege of Gaza. It is attempting to provide a sense that it is a normal state while also advertising itself as the “only democracy in the Middle East.” But we know that no film, song or cultural event will erase the existence of a people under occupation, pregnant Palestinian women who die in childbirth because they cannot pass checkpoints or the dozens of Palestinians killed by Israeli snipers during recent peaceful marches. Accepting Israel’s sponsorship of cultural and academic events is perceived and condemned as whitewashing the world over.

Accordingly, we call on you to avoid becoming an accessory to Israel’s attempts to conceal and absolve itself of its crimes and instead show solidarity with the Palestinian people, support the cultural boycott campaign against Israel and reject the sponsorship of the country and its diplomatic representatives.

BDS Turkey