From Cecilie Surasky, Jewish Voice for Peace deputy director:

Below, you’ll find links to two fact sheets that I invite you to distribute widely responding to numerous lies and distortions being spread about the protest letter signed by 1,000 plus artists and filmmakers -including many Palestinians and Israelis- regarding the Toronto International Film Festival’s celebratory spotlight on tel
aviv . Many of JVP’s advisory board members have signed it- and the
backlash has been terrible and very hard on a number of people. read the fact sheet and you’ll see the institutional jewish and right wing pile-on. jimmy carter redux.

From Racheli:
I’m also enclosing an email sent to its membership by J street, in a dishonest effort to make gains. It’s not a formal J street communication, but when it’s organized and sent out by some of the people at the very top of the organization, the difference isn’t huge.

From: Jeremy Ben-Ami <>
To: ‘Jeremy Ben-Ami’ <>
Sent: Thursday, September 10, 2009 10:11 PM
Subject: Pro Israel Pro Peace Community Responds to Toronto Film Boycott

Jeremy Ben-Ami and Lilly Rivlin (as individuals) are collecting signatures on the letter below regarding the Toronto Film Festival. We feel it is very important for the pro-Israel, pro-peace community to clearly articulate the lines that we will defend when it comes to actions that de-legitimize the state of Israel itself. If you would like to join us in this statement, please email your approval to add your name (and affiliation for identification
purposes) to the letter to Isaac Luria (

We are trying to gather the names of 100 prominent Jewish Americans who are writers, academics, rabbis, activists and prominent thought leaders of our community.

We intend to deliver the letter by Monday and to apprise the media of the signatory list.

Please feel free to pass this effort along to others of your colleagues/acquaintances whose voices would add to the scope of this call.

Thanks so much for your consideration.

September 9, 2009

Paul Atkinson, Chairman of the Board
Piers Handling, Director and CEO
Toronto International Film Festival
2 Carlton Street, Suite 1600
Toronto, ON M5B 1J3 CANADA

Dear Messrs. Atkinson and Handling,

We, the undersigned, thank the Toronto International Film Festival for choosing Tel Aviv for its inaugural City-to-City spotlight and to indicate our support for you as Jews who support a just and speedy two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel’s growing and internationally recognized film industry, centered in Tel Aviv, is rightly a source of pride for many Israelis and others, like us, who care about Israel. Through their art, Israeli filmmakers are presenting the world with a rich picture of Israel’s complex and layered society that goes deeper than simplistic headlines.

We find protests and criticism such as that leveled at the Toronto International Film Festival’s decision to showcase Tel Aviv’s film industry shameful and shortsighted.

The cause of peace will not be served by demonizing Israeli film and filmmakers as being part of the “Israeli propaganda campaign.” In fact, anyone who actually watches popular Israeli films would know that the films are often vigorously critical of Israeli government policy.

Some critics say their objection is to the Israeli government’s role in promoting the films and not the films themselves.

Israel, like some European governments, supports its film industry financially and does not employ any political litmus test to determine which films receive funding. Some of your critics, it appears, would have us believe that Benjamin Netanyahu personally selected these films for maximum propaganda effect. That, of course, is absurd.

We must also, however, express our dismay at the statement by the Toronto International Film Festival’s co-director that Tel Aviv is “contested ground.” Just as we firmly believe that a Palestinian state must be established in territory beyond the pre-1967 borders, we hope that Tel Aviv’s legitimacy as an Israeli city has been long established. Recognizing both these facts is essential to realizing a two-state solution, which is the only way to secure Israel as a Jewish democracy and provide the Palestinians with a state of their own.

We urge those protesting Tel Aviv’s selection to reconsider their actions. And we urge the Toronto International Film Festival to stand strong in the face of efforts to turn their artistic celebration into a political fight.