French New Wave pioneer Jean-Luc Godard joins Israel cinema boycott
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French New Wave pioneer Jean-Luc Godard joins Israel cinema boycott

Filmmaker joins industry professionals who say festival next month is effort to redress Israel's 'increasingly hard-handed policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians'

In this file photo taken on June 19, 2010 Swiss film director Jean-Luc Godard attends a debate at the Cinema des cineastes in Paris. (AFP PHOTO / Miguel MEDINA)
In this file photo taken on June 19, 2010 Swiss film director Jean-Luc Godard attends a debate at the Cinema des cineastes in Paris. (AFP PHOTO / Miguel MEDINA)

The French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard joined dozens of other film-industry professionals from France who vowed to boycott an event celebrating Israeli cinema.

Godard, a pioneer of the 1960s New Wave cinema and an avowed Marxist who has fought accusations of anti-Semitism, added his name to a May 4 petition calling for a boycott of the France-Israel Season event by the Institut Francais. The state-run organization for furthering French culture abroad scheduled next month’s event in cooperation with Israeli government officials.

“Posing as an event for cultural exchange,” the petition reads, “this effort is meant to boost Israeli reparation, tarnished by its increasingly hard-handed policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians.”

The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism on Tuesday accused the cosignatories of “trying to discriminate against the only Jewish democratic state” while “staying blind, deaf, and mute when it comes to Palestinian anti-Semitic culture in which theaters, cinemas, and music are used to propagate this hatred in schools” in the West Bank and Gaza.

In addition to Godard, the maker of “Breathless,” the petition also was signed by Eyal Sivan, an Israel-born director who in 2001, amid anti-Semitic assaults in France, said that “Jewish Agency agents have one way of increasing aliyah: Burning synagogues.” He also said Jews in France were paying the price for “the colonial and murderous situation that has prevailed for more than fifty years in Israel-Palestine.”

The philosopher Alain Finkielkraut called Sivan a “Jewish anti-Semite,” leading the director to sue Finkielkraut for libel. Sivan lost the trial. In 2013, Eyal said that “Zionism runs France.”

Godard has faced accusations of anti-Semitism in France. He has denied this allegation, stating his father was anti-Semitic but he is merely anti-Zionist.

Godard worked in 1970 on a film titled “Until Victory,” depicting the “Palestinian struggle for independence,” partially bankrolled by the Arab League. It was never completed. It features alternating images of former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and Adolf Hitler.

Richard Brody, in a 2008 biography of Godard, wrote that “Godard’s obsession with living history … has brought with it a troubling set of idees fixes, notably regarding Jews and the United States.” Idees fixes is French for biases or irrational conceptions.

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