Signers To Anti-Israel Toronto Film Festival Declaration Should Follow Jane Fonda's Lead
New York, NY, September 15, 2009 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged responsible signatories to a letter organized by anti-Israel activists criticizing a focus on films featuring Tel Aviv at the Toronto International Film Festival to follow the lead of Jane Fonda in acknowledging the letter is one-sided and unconstructive. Ms. Fonda was touted as a high-profile signatory to the so-called "Toronto Declaration," which accused the prestigious festival of being "complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine" with its City to City spotlight on Tel Aviv, featuring films by Tel Aviv filmmakers and the city.
"We welcome Jane Fonda's reconsideration of her involvement in this unabashedly anti-Israel effort," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "We urge the other responsible signatories to follow Ms. Fonda's lead of public recognition of the inflammatory, one-sided and unconstructive nature of the Toronto Declaration."
On September 10, Mr. Foxman wrote to Cameron Bailey, the Co-Director of the film festival to commend the "Toronto International Film Festival's decision to feature films from Tel Aviv…and for rejecting the calls by signatories of the so-called Toronto Declaration who have attempted to politicize this feature and use it to delegitimize Israel, Tel Aviv, and its artistic community." In the letter, Mr. Foxman asked Mr. Bailey to clarify his statement in his August 28 "Open Letter on City to City: Tel Aviv" which, while rejecting criticism of the feature, referred to Tel Aviv as being "contested ground." Mr. Foxman wrote: "There is simply no basis for such a conclusion. The only people who contest Israel's sovereignty over Tel Aviv are those who question the legitimacy of the State of Israel and believe that the Jewish state should not exist."
The Toronto Declaration includes incendiary assertions, including a reference to Israel as an "apartheid regime." Using language usually reserved for areas that are the subject of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, such as the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to describe Tel Aviv (which it erroneously describes as being built on "destroyed Palestinian villages") leads to the impression that the signatories question the legitimacy of the city of Tel Aviv and consider the State of Israel itself illegitimate, whatever its borders.
In her article posted on The Huffington Post, Ms. Fonda said that the Declaration included "words that are unnecessarily inflammatory" and wrote that, "I signed the letter without reading it carefully enough, without asking myself if some of the wording wouldn't exacerbate the situation rather than bring about constructive dialogue." Ms. Fonda also noted that the document omitted "any mention of Hamas's 8-month-long rocket and mortar attacks on the town of Sderot and the western Negev to which Israel was responding when it launched its war on Gaza."
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.