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Lebanese Film Sparks Feud Between BDS Egypt, Zawya Cinema Citing Normalization With Israel

January 31, 2018
File Photo of a Movie Theater

After about 40 years following the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel, normalization of relations between them has always been a barbed issue. Diplomatically, bilateral relations between Egypt and Israel have been thriving since 1979 and thereafter. However, Egyptian people and mostly Arab citizens are not on good terms with Israel, with multiple initiatives urging to cut diplomatic ties between Israel and Egypt.

Located in Egypt’s Downtown, Zawya Cinema has always been a hub for alternative art. Unlike commercial movie theaters, Zawya screens films that are different and brings films from around the world that Egyptians have no chance of watching elsewhere in Egypt.

Once Zawya announced that the Oscar-nominated for best foreign-language Lebanese film The Insult will start screening as of 31st of January, BDS movement released a statement urging Zawya to retreat from its decision to avoid being a supporter of normalization.

The Insult film narrates the story of a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian Muslim refugee. They take to court to solve a feud and as the film progresses and the case heats in the court, both camps start to overlook their prejudices against each other. Additionally, it touches on the Lebanese civil war and other issues that are deemed rather delicate in Lebanon.

The director of the film, Ziad Doueiri, is the key reason Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Egypt rejects its screening. Having directed a film called The shock in 2012, he visited Tel Aviv and was accused of normalizing relations with Israel.

The statement of BDS reads: “The Insult, a Lebanese film directed by Ziad Doueiri, has previously been banned from screening in Lebanon and Palestine.”

Screenshot from The Insult

The statement continued to point out why it rejects the screening of The Insult in Egypt. The statement said, “The director of the film [Doueiri] supports normalization of relations with Israel, and he involved Israeli actors in his previous movie The Shock.

“Doueiri also visited Israel to shoot some scenes in his movie The Shock. Regarding The Insult, it is disrespectful towards the Palestinians.

“Doueiri also insists to promote in his movies that Israel is not an enemy and the boycott is not a solution, without even being apologetic,” BDS concluded its statement, urging people to boycott the film.

In a previous interview with Ahram Online, Doueiri said that he is against normalizing relations with Israel.

In response to the statement of BDS, Zawya released a statement in defense of its decision to screen the film and said that the boycotting conditions of the international movement of BDS don’t apply on this film.

Zawya’s statement reads: “Zawya supports BDS and its principles, and we believe that our decision to screen the movie is not against these principles.

“A cornerstone of the BDS strategy is that it does not target individuals. Rather it is a systematic, tactical strategy designed to isolate cultural products that are directly funded by the Israeli state. While the director of The Insult clearly has politics that are offensive, this film was not made with any financial support from the Israeli state, nor is it directly engaged in Israeli propaganda.

“This distinction is potentially the most important point for the survival and spread of BDS around the world. The most common accusation against BDS is that it shuts down debate by targeting individuals. The response is always that it targets the system. If we forget this and we begin to target individuals then we risk destroying the movement itself because we risk countering one repression with another,” Zawya said.

Screenshot from The Post

BDS movement in Egypt fired back with a statement urging people to boycott Zawya Cinema and didn’t restrict its boycotting calls to the film.

The Insult screened during the Gouna Film Festival in Egypt in October, and there were also no boycotting calls.

BDS Movement in Egypt hasn’t released any calls to boycott “The Post” movie that is currently being screened in Egypt, despite its director’s $US 1 million donations to Israel in 2006 during its war with Lebanon’s movement of Hezbollah.

Multiple other Hollywood movies screened in Egypt without resilience, despite the involvement of Israeli production houses and supporters in the production.

Watch the Trailer of The Insult below:


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