Manhattan Jewish Community Center Official Advocates Boycott of Israel (UPDATE)
by Zach Pontz
In a blog post published Thursday, an official at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan wrote that “the importance of the use of boycott” to pressure “Israel to end the occupation is unquestionable”— as long as it’s not his film festival being boycotted.
Isaac Zablocki, Director of Film Programs at the JCC in Manhattan, and Executive Director of The Other Film Festival, which claims on its website to be “a vehicle for cultural change and social insights into the nature of Israel as a democracy and the complex condition of the lives of its minorities that are living in the Jewish Sate (sic),” published the article on the Huffington Post.
“In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nonviolence is a welcome form of protest for the region, and the importance of the use of boycott to get international attention towards pressuring Israel to end the occupation is unquestionable,” he asserted.
Zablocki objects, however, to applying the anti-Israel boycott to “art, culture and education” saying it “brings up dangers in the realm of freedom and evolution of thought.”
According to Zablocki, who fails to distinguish further between what, in his opinion, should and shouldn’t be exempt from boycott, “Some messages can positively impact our world, and should not be thrown out because of a blanket boycott. Israel needs to see films made by Palestinians. Palestinians need to see films by Israelis. Otherwise, both sides will remain with only their own narrative and never truly see the humanity of the other side.”
“The BDS movement fights against the normalization of the occupation of the State of Israel and pushes to exclude Israel from any international program as long as it is violating the human rights of Palestinians,” Zablocki wrote further.
Last year, one of the most vehement and public proponents of anti-Israel activism , Professor Norman Finkelstein, made clear in an interview that the BDS movement counts the destruction of Israel among its objectives, by advocating for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
UPDATE: In an email sent to The Algemeiner Monday Zablocki claimed that despite clearly writing otherwise in his Huffington Post blog post, he actually does not support boycotts of Israel.
“I want to clarify my position on BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions). I do not support BDS as has been claimed,” he wrote, “I oppose it in all forms. In my article, I only intended to assert the obvious, which is that while people have the right to boycott, I do not support it when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”