Wellington Scoop

Protestors interrupt Israeli film at DocEdge screening

News from Peace Action Wellington
Today marks 70 years since the newly-formed state of Israel ‘ethnically cleansed’ Palestinian people and stole their lands. Yesterday in Palestine, tens of thousands of Palestinian people marked this anniversary. More than 55, including children, were killed while peacefully protesting.

Last night in Wellington, Peace Action Wellington held a protest at a Documentary Edge screening of Ben Gurion: Epilogue. This film received Israeli government funding for its production, as well as sponsorship from the NZ Israeli Embassy for the filmmaker to travel here. The filmmaker is not therefore an ‘independent’ filmmaker but a state-sponsored one. This is in clear breach of the Palestinian-led cultural boycott, which is similar to the boycott of South African apartheid.

“Doc Edge screening the film on this date, with Israeli government funding, ignores the 70 years of oppression and apartheid that the Palestinian people have been subjected to,” said Peace Action Wellington spokesperson Alex Davis.

One protester talked about the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and ongoing land theft as they introduced the film before it started. Cinema staff grabbed the protester and dragged them from the cinema. After the film started protesters disrupted the screening with noise and talked about the atrocities Israel is committing against the Palestinian people. One protester was assaulted by two cinema-goers who jumped on her and hit her in the head as she was filming. Other patrons intervened to prevent the assault.

“People keep talking about us censoring this film. But there are two issues here: first, screening the film on this date is a political move, and Palestinians are being killed right now because of the ongoing project of ethnic cleansing that started 70 years ago; and second, the government funding breaks the boycott of Israel. We wouldn’t have had a problem with the movie if it hadn’t been on this date and hadn’t had Israeli government funding. The funding generally means that artists sign an agreement to represent the Israeli Government and everything that comes with that – apartheid, oppression and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. We think it’s time for Doc Edge to cut all ties with the Israeli government”, said Davis.

“People didn’t like being made to feel uncomfortable when there were protests against South African apartheid either. But now people look back and are proud that New Zealand took a stance. We want Aotearoa to stand against apartheid once again.

“We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people on this, the 70th year since al-Nakba, the Catastrophe. We stand alongside Palestinians by continuing to demand the end to oppression, the blockade of Gaza and apartheid, as well as their right of return to their lands. We choose to do this through respecting the non-violent call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. At least 55 Palestinians were killed yesterday in Gaza – that’s what’s important here”, said Davis.

Ben Gurion was the first Prime Minister of the new state of Israel,which was built on the razed villages and mass graves of the Palestinians. He was known for his strident support for the Israeli state at the expense of the Palestinian people of the land, and in 1948, just after the initial ethnic cleansing, wrote “We must do everything to ensure they (the Palestinians) never do return.”


  1. Brian Marshall, 15. May 2018, 16:58

    Hmm, I recall it was after the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Rifles won the battle of Beersheba 100 years ago and then captured Jerusalem with British and Indian Forces in the lead. This led to the Balfour Declaration on which basis the state of Israel was formed. So to accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing is a misrepresentation on a grand scale. Tell me when did the NZ Peace Movement last protest against the activities of Muslim organisations such as the ethnic cleansing of Christians in Surabaya?

  2. Traveller, 15. May 2018, 17:26

    Brian may not have seen the widely reported images of Israeli troops shooting at unarmed Palestinians demonstrating against the occupation of their land. As Helen Clark said today: Shocking scenes of live ammunition used against protestors. This is disproportionate force. Never was it more obvious that occupation must end.

  3. Brian Marshall, 15. May 2018, 18:31

    Traveller, Have you ever been in front of such a mob? I recall the riots in Malaysia when Singapore became independent and Malay was fighting against Chinese ethnic people for racial reasons, to what end result – futility. The Palestinian people are an invention of political and geographic origin, so what right do they have to claim Israel as theirs? When you throw stones and bombs at fighting soldiers defending their border, what do you expect in return? Cuddles and kisses? Get real, the essence is that after the Holocaust, the Jewish people said “Never again!” and I for one, applaud their commitment to freedom and independence like my forefathers did 100 years ago and during WW2.

  4. BDS Movement, 15. May 2018, 19:26

    Our coordinator in Gaza: “For us Palestinians, the Nakba isn’t just a crime of the past. It never ended. My grandparents were violently expelled from their village & forced to live as refugees. Their beautiful village is so close I can almost see it, but I can’t reach it”. [via twitter]

  5. Peter Kerr, 16. May 2018, 11:01

    @Brian Marshall. Well done on such a concise four sentence historical synopsis of the fall of the Turkish Empire. There’s nothing like a quick efficient historical narrative to sort the story out.

  6. Dave B, 16. May 2018, 14:01

    There was no “ethnic cleansing” back in 1948 when Israel was formed in a small part of the territory previously administered under the British Mandate. There was a war, the day after the Jewish State was announced, when the surrounding Arab nations attacked it. This led to meny deaths on both sides. Then there were relocations, as many local Arabs (call them Palestinians if you want) elected not to continue living in the new Jewish State and left. Many ended up as refugees in neighbouring Arab countries which failed to this day to assimilate them. The rationale was that the new Jewish State would soon be destroyed, “and then they could all go back”. These people have been failed by their own brethren.

    But here is the crux: Many Arab families elected to (and were free to) remain in the Jewish territory and became what are now known as the Israeli Arabs. They were not forced out. They had the right to remain muslims, become citizens, even become members of parliament, and most have fared much better than those who opted to leave. And it should also be known that many Jewish families who previously lived in the greater part of the British Mandate territory which was granted to the Arabs (now the country of Jordan), were forced to leave their ancestral homes and relocate to Israel whether they wanted to or not. To this day, Jews are not welcome in most Arab countries and are certainly not at liberty to return to ancestral homes. But rather than harbour generational grudges as their Arab counterparts do, they just got on with life in the new Israeli State. So in all honesty, just which way has “apartheid” been applied here?

    To this day, Arabs, Palestinians, Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all, are free to enter Israel, work there, reside there and practice whatever religion they want there – as long as they do not come armed with bombs, weapons and hostile intent! This is the only reason Israel has thrown up walls, barricades and check-points, and the only reason it now vigorously defends its borders. The Jewish people are determined never again to let ethnic cleansing happen to them.

  7. Citizen Joe, 16. May 2018, 16:38

    David, and let’s not forget the bombing of your namesake hotel in 1946 by the Irgun. The King David Hotel in Jerusalem had been the headquarters of the British Mandatory Authorities and on July 22nd 1946, the Irgun (a militant Zionist group) blew the hotel up killing 91.

    Two years ago, at the sixtieth anniversary, the Begin Heritage Centre wanted to lay a plaque commemorating the hotel bombing and laying the deaths (92 i.e. including a bomber) at the feet of the British for not evacuating the building. Naturally, the British were not happy with this proposal.

    Not wishing anything similarly untoward to happen to the new US Embassy in Jerusalem. But history does have a habit of repeating itself in the Middle East.

  8. Dave B, 16. May 2018, 17:29

    Citizen Joe, agreed. I am not suggesting that the Jews/Israelis have been blameless through all of this. I was just trying to counter allegations of “ethnic cleansing” and “apartheid” that I believe are wrongly levelled against Israel.