Pro-Palestinian activists in New Zealand bought tickets to the screening of a new film about Israel’s founder and first prime minister David Ben-Gurion, then detonated stink bombs and shouted anti-Israel slogans, forcing the invited audience to leave the hall, Hadashot News reported Thursday.
The incident in Auckland followed a similar one in New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, where protesters chained a bleeping black box to a seat, according to Newsroom, a New Zealand-based news and current affairs site.
Peace Action Wellington said it had targeted the screening because the film, “Ben-Gurion, Epilogue,” was “racist propaganda” and because the Israeli embassy had paid for director Yariv Mozer to fly to New Zealand.
Mozer told Hadashot News Thursday that the Auckland incident also saw protesters distributing pictures of Layla Ghandour, an eight-month old Gaza baby who died close to the Gaza border last week, purportedly after inhaling tear gas during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops.
After her death made headlines across the world, her family acknowledged she had a congenital heart disease, which a Gaza doctor indicated to the Associated Press was the more likely cause of her death.
Mozer said that security personnel were called to the hall where they detained the protesters.
The film is due to be screened a second time in Auckland and the demonstrators have threatened to disrupt it again, Hadashot News said.
The film is based on six hours of interview footage from 1968 — a year after Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem during the Six Day War.
It was discovered in a Jerusalem archive and includes Ben-Gurion, then 82, and living in the Negev, expressing his views about making peace with the Arab world.
In the Newsroom interview, Mozer invited the protesters to watch the film, saying they would be “surprised.”
“Ben-Gurion was against keeping the territories. It was always his view that Israel would have to withdraw back to its pre-1967 lines if it was to have a lasting peace,” said Mozer.
“He had a clear vision that we would end up where we are today if that didn’t happen.
“He considered that there was enough land in the Negev desert for all the Jewish settlers and offered to give back the occupied areas including the whole of Jerusalem in order to have a two-state solution.
“He thought having a country was more important than having Jerusalem.”
Mozer said those calling for a cultural boycott of Israel were “ignorant” and worked against the chances for peace.
“The whole reason we [documentary-makers] are doing these films is so people can get a better understanding and see different points of view. If the boycott movement shuts artists down or makes us silent, it stops dialogue,” he added.