Five Israeli films were screened at the recently concluded Toronto Palestine Film Festival (TPFF) in spite of calls from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to boycott all projects that involve Israel.

Three high-profile feature films from Israel were shown at the festival, which ended on September 24: Maysaloun Hamoud’s In Between, about three Israeli Arab women living in Tel Aviv, which just won two Ophir Awards, the prizes of the Israel Academy for Film and Television, for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress; Maha Haj’s Personal Affairs, about an Israeli-Arab family, which won the top prize at last year’s Haifa International Film Festival; and Udi Aloni’s Junction 48, a look at the Palestinian rap scene, which won the Jury Award at the Tribeca Film Festival and the Panorama Audience Award at the Berlin Film Festival, as well as two Ophir Awards.

In Between and Personal Affairs received funding from the Israel Film Fund, which gets its budget from the Israel Ministry of Culture and Sport. Junction 48 was co-produced by several Israeli companies, including Metro Communications and United King Films.

Two Israeli documentaries, Dorit Naaman’s Jerusalem, We Are Here and Rona Sela’s Looted and Hidden – Palestinian Archives in Israel, were also shown at the festival.

All of these films were directed by Israelis.

Israeli Arab filmmakers, among them Maysaloun Hamoud, have drawn criticism from supporters of the BDS Movement for accepting Israeli funding.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post last winter, Hamoud defended her decision to accept money from the Israel Film Fund to make In Between: “I didn’t hesitate to turn to the Israeli film funds for money.

Why shouldn’t I? We are 20% of the population, we pay taxes. We are Palestinians and we are Israelis and people don’t know what to make of this… People said, ‘Don’t take the Israeli money, get Arab funding.’ This is an oxymoron. There were no Arab film funds, there was nothing I could get.”

Many opponents of BDS were pleased with TPFF’s decision to show the Israeli films.

“This development shows the utter failure of the BDS campaign in Canada,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “By showcasing Israeli cinema, TPFF has supported the Israeli economy and the arts, despite fierce opposition from some Palestinian-Canadian figures. A serious question must now be asked of those who promote the bigoted BDS agenda in Canada and abroad: If even Palestinians in the Diaspora can’t be bothered to boycott the Jewish State, why should anyone else, including Roger Waters?” Former Pink Floyd frontman Waters has repeatedly called for a boycott of Israel.

TPFF, currently celebrating its 10th year, ran from September 20 through 24. Annemarie Jacir, the Palestinian director whose movie, Wajib, was the official Palestinian selection for consideration for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, is on the TPFF advisory board, along with many other Palestinian filmmakers.


Jewish candidate for Illinois governor drops running mate over BDS

WASHINGTON — A Jewish candidate for Illinois governor drops his running mate over a disagreement about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

“Growing up with an Israeli mother, grandparents who survived the Holocaust, and great-grandparents who did not survive, issues related to the safety and security of the Jewish people are deeply personal to me,” Daniel Biss, a state senator, and a mathematician, says in a statement Wednesday on his campaign website explaining what he said was a “difficult” decision to part ways with Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa just a week after announcing their ticket.

“I strongly support a two-state solution,” Biss says. “I support Israel’s right to exist, and I support Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. I also care deeply about justice for Palestinians and believe that a vision for the Middle East must include political and economic freedom for Palestinians. That’s why I oppose the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, as I believe it moves us further away from a peaceful solution.”

Biss says that he had raised BDS in the interview process and he understood that Ramirez-Rosa opposed it. In a statement to the Chicago Sun-Times, Ramirez suggested that he opposed BDS on the local and state level — he notably voted against it in a council vote in 2015 — but supported it at the federal level.

“The difference of opinion we have on the role the BDS movement plays at the federal level would make it impossible to continue moving forward as a ticket,” Ramirez-Rosa says.

Biss came under pressure after it was revealed that Ramirez-Rosa, in an interview a year ago, prior to the Democratic National Convention, said that “for too long the US government has subsidized the oppression of the Palestinian people.” Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Illinois, a Jewish Chicago-area congressman, dropped his endorsement of Biss, running in a crowded field of nine for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Frankfurt City Council advances bill barring BDS from municipal venues

BERLIN (JTA) — The Frankfurt City Council approved a bill introduced by the mayor to bar the use of city funds and venues for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Friday’s decision brings the council one step closer to outlawing BDS, which Mayor Uwe Becker has described as “deeply anti-Semitic.” The bill now needs approval from the city legislature.

BDS activists have consistently rejected claims that they are motivated by anti-Semitism, noting that some Jews take part in their activities or support them. The BDS movement says its actions are a reaction to Israel’s alleged violations of international law against Palestinians.

The city of Munich is considering a similar bill.

The City Council decided that no municipal venues or outdoor areas will be provided for activities of the BDS, and any organization that does provide support for BDS risks losing city funding. The council also called on private property owners to take the regulation to heart, even if it does not apply officially to them.

In a statement issued Friday, Becker said the BDS movement uses anti-Zionism as a vehicle for an anti-Semitic agenda. He also emphasized the connections between his city and Israel, and his hopes for a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict.

BDS is not about resolving the conflict, he said, but “essentially about delegitimizing the State of Israel, using the tools of boycotts and defamation.” Becker decried the actions of “self-appointed ‘department store police’ who attach labels to Israeli products in order to intimidate retailers, who try to intimidate artists who perform in Israel or wish to do so,  and who disturb events.”

The mayor accused the BDS movement of using “the same language that National Socialists once employed to say ‘Don’t buy from Jews!’”



The deputy mayor of Frankfurt, Uwe Becker, submitted a bill on Wednesday that would ban municipal funds and space being used for activities that aim to boycott Israel.

Becker, a leading German political voice against antisemitism, said, “The BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] movement with its messages uses the same language the National Socialists once used to express: ‘Don’t buy from Jews!’”

The boycott movement targeting Israel is “deeply antisemitic and should have no place in Frankfurt,” he said.

The proposed law would outlaw all public funding and space for the support of “antisemitic BDS activities.” The bill in Frankfurt, which has a population of nearly 733,000, would also urge private companies to refrain from commerce with BDS groups.

The deputy mayor spearheaded his Christian Democratic Union’s adoption of its anti-BDS platform at the party’s congress in 2016.

Becker said on Wednesday, “Frankfurt maintains, with its partnership with Tel Aviv, a special closeness to Israel and has continued to expand over the previous years this special relationship.”

The municipality said in a statement that Becker announced Frankfurt’s clear position against BDS in light of anti-boycott measures taken by other national and regional legislatures, including Munich’s.

Becker said BDS, at its core, is a movement that “delegitimizes the State of Israel and uses the method of a boycott to defame [Israel].” He cited BDS actions to intimidate artists who want to appear in Israel.

He also noted the boycott activities of “department store police” who stigmatize Israeli products in order to pressure stores to turn against the Jewish state.

Anti-Israel activists have over the years marched into stores in Bremen, Bonn and other German cities to single out Israeli goods for opprobrium.

Becker said his city is engaged for a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Last week, Becker wrote on his Facebook page: “With the rising terrorism in Europe, more and more people start to understand the situation that Israel has been facing since David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the independence of Israel on May 14, 1948. This rising awareness should also open the eyes of the people in Europe to see that it is up to us to support Israel, as it is the only democratic country under the rule of law in the Middle East. Israel is the democratic bridge between Occident and Orient and is linked closely to our European values and virtues and way of life.”

He continued, “This year marks a decade of suffering for the people in Gaza. No, not from Israeli policy, as many people in Europe might think. No, people in Gaza suffer from a lack of freedom, from a lack of democracy, from the brutal rule of Hamas, which is betraying its own people and has been governing Gaza since Israel withdrew in 2005 and Hamas took over power in 2007 after fighting between Hamas and Fatah. The corrupt leadership of Hamas has received hundreds of millions of dollars in the past decade, but the money has not gone to the people, but to the accounts of corrupt Hamas leaders and to the funding of terrorism and terrorist infrastructure in their fight against Israel.”

Becker further said that “there should not be any European tax-money funding terrorism. And as long as it is not possible to track where our tax money meant for the humanitarian aid in Gaza goes, we should freeze our financial support.”



The student parliament at the Goethe University in Frankfurt on Thursday condemned the BDS campaign for duplicating the Nazi-era movement’s boycotts of Jewish-owned businesses.

“The call by the BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] campaign to boycott products from the parts designated ‘occupied territories’ of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Golan Heights stands clearly in the tradition of the national socialist Jewish boycott and the slogan ‘Don’t buy from Jews!”’ the student council wrote in its resolution.

The Left List (LiLi) and the Democratic List (DL) introduced the anti-BDS resolution at the university named after the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in the state of Hesse. The university’s student enrollment is roughly 46,000.

“The call for an academic boycott is a severe attack on academic freedom. Therefore the BDS campaign has no business here,” said Johannes Fechner, the deputy chairman of students committee.

The resolution calls for “the end of cooperation with the BDS campaign, including advertisements, events or stands at the university and at other locations.”

The anti-BDS document said a boycott of Israeli educational institutions will lead to “a massive restriction of research and teaching of the Shoah and national socialism.”

The student groups wrote that BDS demands to tear down protective barriers to bar terrorist acts from Gaza and the West Bank, and “to require the return of ‘Palestinian refugees’ would in effect mean the end of the Jewish state and Jewish life in the Middle East.”

The students noted that “the antisemitism of the BDS movement appears today clearly in the always recurrent labeling of Israel as an ‘apartheid regime.’” The apartheid comparison, according to the resolution, is “part of an attempt to demonize Israel and highlight the allegedly racist character of Zionism. This baseless accusation relativizes the former institutional racism in South Africa and derides the real victims of apartheid.”

The resolution’s purpose was to send a strong signal to growing anti-Zionist and antisemitic tendencies in Frankfurt, including the group Free Palestine and the BDS-associated KoPi conference “50 Years of Israeli Occupation” that took place in Frankfurt in July.

The Goethe students took their counterparts at the University of Duisburg-Essen’s students’ committee in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia to task for organizing an anti-Israel event with the BDS supporter Khaled Hamad, a representative of the Democratic Front for Liberation of Palestine, in July.

The DFLP carried out a terrorist attack in 1974 that resulted in the murders of 22 children and four adults at the Netiv Meir Elementary School in Ma’alot in the Upper Galilee. Hamad is a member of the executive board of the German-Palestinian medical society.

On Friday, the students committee at the University of Duisburg-Essen elected new two student representatives to replace Nadine Bendahou – the former student group chairwoman who organized the anti-Israel event with Hamad and the Israeli Prof. Moshe Zuckermann from Tel Aviv, who is popular among anti-Israel Germans for his slashing attacks on Israeli policies. Zuckermann speaks German and also spoke at the anti-Israel KoPi event with BDS advocates.

According to the German paper Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, Bendahou’s role in the antisemitism scandal at the university along with her narrow focus on Muslim students at the exclusion of other students caused the change in student government representation.

Bendahou also serves as the spokeswoman for the youth organization NRW of the largely anti-Israel Left Party.

Writing in the student newspaper BSZ, Justin Mantoan said, “NRW is known for a long time for its antisemitic and Israel-hostile wing.” The Jungle World weekly reported that Bendahou said the speakers at the anti-Israel event were victims of a defamation campaign that involves the “ideological exploitation of the Shoah and the undermining of antisemitism criticism.”



There should be no discrimination against West Bank settlement products, Mexican politician Hugo Eric Flores Cervantes said on Sunday during a visit to Samaria.

“Those who consider that the factories here are not producing products made on Israeli territory, are mistaken. There is no territory that is more Israeli than here,” Flores Cervantes said, adding that any other understanding is a historical mistake.

“Products should be exported from here to any place in the globe in the most open way possible,” he said.

Flores Cervantes was speaking in Spanish in response to a question about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. His words were translated by Yossi Eldar, vice president of the Israel-Mexico Chamber of Commerce.

“Trade between nations must and should be free,” Flores Cervantes said. “I am in favor of accelerating the trade agreement between Mexico and Israel as well as accelerating the marketing of products produced in Judea and Samaria to Mexico.”

He is the founder and head of the Social Encounter Party and serves in the Mexican Congress. “We are evangelical Christians and pro-Israel,” he told The Jerusalem Post in describing his party.

“The Mexican Congress has the ability to accelerate commercial ties, and I, through my party, will ask the Congress to insure that Mexico buy products produced in Judea and Samaria,” Flores Cervantes said.

While in Samaria, Flores Cervantes visited the Barkan Industrial Park and spoke with its regional council head Yossi Dagan about ways to improve the region’s commercial ties with Mexico.

“I feel the growing support from Mexico,” Dagan said.

Mexico has the 14th largest Jewish community in the world. Because of the community’s history of being largely descended from Spanish converts, estimates of the number are hard to come by. Various sources quote ranges of anywhere from 40,000 to 67,000.

Israel established ties with Mexico in 1950 and has had a free trade agreement with it since 2000. It is Israel’s second-largest trade partner, while Israel is Mexico’s 42nd-ranking trading partner and its largest in the Middle East. In 2016 trade between the two countries amounted to some $905 million.

Flores Cervantes said he wants to make sure the Israel-Mexico free trade agreement applies to products produced in Judea and Samaria.



A pro-Israel North American advocacy organization announced on Thursday that it had won a legal victory after an Ontario university’s student association banned it from participating in an event last year, due to its connection with Israel.

The event in question was Social Justice Week, held at University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Robert Walker, national director of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, had responded to an open invitation for community groups to participate.


When he was denied entry, Hasbara Fellowships filed legal action with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, citing discrimination. The group demanded a public apology, an invitation back to campus, and $50,000 in damages.

On Thursday, the Student Association released a public apology on its website saying it “deeply regrets the decision made to deny Mr. Walker and Hasbara the opportunity to participate in Social Justice Week. The SA sincerely apologizes to Mr. Walker and Hasbara. The SA aims to promote healthy debate on campus and rejects discrimination of any kind, including against Israeli students or community members. We welcome Mr. Walker and Hasbara’s participation at a future multicultural event on campus.”

Robert Walker in front of the student centre at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology campus, February 2017.Robert Walker in front of the student centre at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology campus, February 2017.

The statement noted that Hasbara had been denied entry to the event based on a false piece of information that the 2015-2016 Board of the SA had ratified a motion to support a boycott campaign against Israel under the banner “BDS.” The motion was passed but it was not ratified by the 2015-2016 Board.

As for the $50,000 demanded by Hasbara Fellowships, Walker told the The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that he was not at liberty to share anymore details of the settlement, but emphasized that he was “extremely satisfied with the result.”

According to Walker, this is the first time ever that a Canadian Jewish group has filed legal action against a university association and he sees the result as a huge victory for Jewish students in Canada.

“We can see a major change in tone,” he remarked.

“Only one year ago the Student Association prevented us from participating in a program because we were ‘connected to Israel.’ And one year later, they apologized, are welcoming us back to campus, outlining their opposition to discrimination against Israelis and regretting what they have done…

This is a major step which we hope will be noticed by universities and student governments across the country,” he said.

Since the incident occurred last year, the fellowship has helped a local group of Jewish students form a pro-Israel club, the first of its kind of the campus.

“The silver lining was not just that we righted a wrong, but that true proactive steps have been taken and that the Student Association has really made a big change from last year and we’ve been able to engage and empower a group of Jewish students to be able to tell the truth about Israel on a campus where there is zero Jewish presence,” Walker said.


NEW YORK – Mayor Bill De Blasio expressed his commitment to combat the Boycott Divestment and Sanction movement and defend the Jewish community against antisemitism, during an event on Tuesday evening.

The event, held at the Mayor’s official residence of Gracie Mansion in Manhattan, aimed to celebrate Jewish heritage and included the participation of local Jewish politicians, Consul-General of Israel Dani Dayan and other leaders of the community. “We know there has been a rise in antisemitism in this country, and we will not tolerate it here in New York City,” De Blasio said. “We honor every faith in New York City, this is part of our mandate and this is something we have to teach the world.” “The message is abundantly clear: we cherish the community, we protect the community, we cannot be great without every one of our communities,” he added.


De Blasio also praised Israel as the “answer to industrial oppression going back thousands of years” and spoke about the proximity between the City of New York and the State of Israel.

“There is a lot of history that teaches us why the Jewish people have needed a homeland and finally having a homeland, they deserve to know that that homeland will be protected for the long haul,” he said. “This is why I oppose the BDS movement so strongly.”

The BDS movement, the mayor said, undermines “one of the things that could lead to peace, which is economic opportunity for all in Israel, in the region.”

“I’m saying this as a proud progressive, and as a proud democrat,” he told the audience. “There is no logic, there’s nothing right and just about a movement that seeks to undermine the economy of a place that has been a refuge for the oppressed. It’s as simple as that.”

“We cannot let BDS take away one of the things that could actually lead to peace for everyone,” De Blasio concluded. The mayor’s Jewish heritage celebration is held annually and honors a different Jewish leader every year. Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, was Tuesday’s honoree.



TALLINN- Attempts to isolate Israel or make it an international pariah state are unhelpful, Estonia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sven Mikser told The Jerusalem Post in a wide-ranging interview at the ministry on Wednesday.

In line with the European Union and the majority of the international community, Estonia disapproves of Israel’s settlement policy. “The international community deems that settlements are in contradiction to international law and an obstacle to peace and will not be approved as a legitimate way of advancing Israel’s national interests,” he said.


But Mikser questioned the motives of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, saying “there is a subtle difference between understanding why people and groups act in a certain way and considering it appropriate and constructive. The way to go [forward] is [through] negotiations rather than making efforts to intimidate the other party.”

Mikser also stressed that Estonia sees Israel “as a friend and partner.”

Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser. Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser.

The Estonian foreign minister said he was not deterred by US President Donald Trump’s decision not to of mention the two-state solution during his visit to Israel and the West Bank. “When it comes to Trump’s choice of words and rhetoric that he uses, we should probably not read too much into it. He’s apparently not quite as careful in his choice of words as other presidents have been in past but I think he is sincere in the effort to be a constructive player,” in finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said.

Addressing the rise of the far right in Europe, Mikser says that while populism has always been present to a degree, he is more concerned about the polarization of politics caused by a perceived need to appeal to certain segments of voters. “Parties are trying to move away from the center, and that makes it increasingly more difficult to agree on anything and also it makes the political pendulum swing much more violently than would be desirable,” he said.

Brexit, he said, rang an alarm bell across much of the continent. “But while we do see movements with extreme ideologies doing relatively well in many European countries and here in Estonia, the rise in polls was stemmed by the shock of Brexit; after Brexit many believed victory for the Brexit camp could fuel an anti-European, anti-globalization trend on the continent, but that didn’t quite happen.”

In Estonia, the most populist party in parliament is the Estonian Conservative People’s Party’s (EKRE), which holds seven of the 101 parliament seats. Ahead of the elections in 2015, the party used slogans such as “Estonia for Estonians,” marginalizing the country’s minorities.

“EKRE is the most prominent of those groups that try to gain more traction by appealing to anti-immigrant sentiment,” Mikser noted, mentioning that it is the only party in parliament that has questioned Estonia’s EU membership. “They made it into parliament and got above 10% in the polls, so they are not to be totally disregarded as a marginal party but mainstream parties with much more liberal, open, pro-EU programs are still decisively ahead of the party,” he says.

Caution over becoming complacent is an underlying theme for Estonia, which has thus far avoided being targeted by the terror that has rocked other countries in Europe in recent years.

Mikser –a former Defense Minister who is privy to regular intelligence briefs– tells the Post that the immediate threat of terror in Estonia is relatively low. “But we’re not immune to the rising threat globally, and you can’t drop your guard because when they look for targets they go where they can act,” he hastens to add.

Mikser gives a number of reasons why Estonia is at low risk. The country’s tiny population (1.3 million) and its makeup are among these.

The largest ethnic groups in Estonia are Estonians, Russians, Ukrainians, Finns and Latvians. Immigration to the country is low, though in 2016 it saw the highest number of immigrants in 25 years.

“We monitor closely all activities that can be related to financing terror or any incitement of hatred, we keep an eye on potential radicalization,” Mikser says.

He notes that there have been a few individuals who have taken part, directly or indirectly, in Syria’s civil war and other conflicts. “But when we compare to other countries, the communities at risk of being radicalized are not that numerous either. It’s hard to act in Estonia undetected.” The country’s low profile is another factor. “When terrorists strike they want to have the maximum effect that will make CNN headlines, and Estonia is not that well-known,” he explains.

“But they look for targets of opportunity and we should not prove that,” he reiterates.



PARIS – A succession of ceremonies marked the inauguration of Emmanuel Macron as France’s eighth president under the Fifth Republic. Outgoing president François Hollande received his successor at the Élysée Palace on Sunday morning and the two men spoke in private for more than an hour, after which Hollande left en route for the Socialist Party headquarters.

Guided by rigid French protocol, Macron’s day was still very much in his image. Similarly to his long walk on election evening, when he walked for several minutes, alone, across the Louvre Museum courtyard until he reached the stage, Macron walked alone on Sunday on the red carpet at the Élysée court toward his former boss and mentor Hollande.


The speech Macron delivered an hour later was sober, with the new head of state saying he is “fully aware of the high expectations of the French citizens.

“The French people has chosen hope and a spirit of achievement over a spirit of division and breaking away from the global market,” he said, adding that he now carries the responsibility of convincing French citizens that their country has all the resources necessary to once again be a leading country within the family of nations.

During his election campaign, Macron expressed himself several times on issues of foreign policy. On a visit to Beirut in January, he referred to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that “the role of France is to conduct an independent and balanced policy that would guarantee a dialogue by all sides and the construction of peace.”

More specifically, Macron clearly stated during his campaign that he objects any efforts to boycott Israel, and considers such attempts antisemitic. Alluding to a court decision on the issue from 2015, he argued that “France has already condemned boycotting Israel, and I have no intention of changing this position.”

Still, Macron is not expected to deviate a great deal from the policy set forth by his predecessor Hollande, of supporting the two-state solution. Philippe Etienne, the current ambassador to Berlin, will serve as Macron’s diplomatic adviser. Considered a remarkable diplomat, Etienne has not been especially involved during his career in Middle East issues, and thus is likely to embrace the path of Ambassador Pierre Vimont, who prepared the Paris 1 and 2 Middle East Conferences (the Israelis and Palestinians were not invited), on June 3, 2016, and January 15, 2017, respectively.