There is mounting racism in Israel against the Arabs who form more than 20% of the state’s citizens. Indeed, the state itself is contributing to this climate of racism. Government agencies are trying to intimidate the political representatives of the Arab citizens. A series of increasingly racist bills are being introduced to the Knesset by members of parties in the governing coalition. The government does nothing to counter the widely-distributed racist proclamation which was issued by dozens of prominent rabbis who are actually paid by the government itself – a racist call for expelling Arab citizens from neighbourhoods in the cities of Safed, Tel Aviv, Bat Yam and elsewhere.
In line with all this, the courts are being used for a concerted attack on the director and actor, Muhammad Bakri. He is being persecuted for using his art to document the crimes of the Israeli state and its army.
Bakri was right when he commented on this persecution as follows: “Nobody sued me when, in addition to movies about the victims of the Jewish Holocaust, I attended movies on the Armenian Genocide and the crimes against the Kurds. Why, then, am I being pursued because I made the film “Jenin, Jenin”, about the attack of the Israeli army on the refugee camp in that city in Spring 2002?”
We know what stands behind the Israeli soldiers who are suing Bakri. The individual soldiers who are suing him were neither shown, nor mentioned, in the film. It is clear that the suit against Bakri is simply an attempt to silence a prominent voice that has dared to reveal the truth about the Israeli occupation. Bakri has dared to challenge the monopoly of the occupiers’ narrative. He is being persecuted in order to send a message to all others who might be tempted to reveal truths that are embarrassing to the racist hegemony in Israel.
The suit against Bakri is simply one ploy in a campaign of intimidation, a campaign which aims to silence all those who dare tell the truth about the injustices which the Israeli state, its settlers and its army are inflicting on the Palestinians.
All artists and progressive intellectuals around the world should lend their support to those in Israel who are trying to resist this vile campaign of intimidation. By doing so, they will help save whatever still remains in that country of the right to freedom of thought, to freedom of expression, to freedom of artistic creativity.
We, the undersigned, warn all Israelis: today they are abusing the courts to intimidate Mohammed Bakri; one day it will be you.
To the Israeli court system, we say: throw out this frivolous suit against Mohammed Bakri. Otherwise, you will drag the State of Israel and its institutions further into disrepute.
please sign it here: http://www.petitiononline.com/bakri11/petition.html
also send your letters of solidarity to firstname.lastname@example.org