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Israeli film festival in London part of efforts to rebrand apartheid

June 2, 2014 at 3:57 pm

An Israeli embassy-sponsored film festival is set to take place in London later this month, part of efforts to ‘rebrand’ an apartheid state increasingly the target of international boycotts.

SERET 2014 was launched earlier this year at an event hosted by Israel’s ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub. According to a report on – whose editor-in-chief Anat Koren is one of the festival’s co-founders – Ambassador Taub “spoke about the role the Festival plays in providing a platform for spreading a more accurate picture of Israel across all communities”.

Taub welcomed the inaugural event in 2012 as a means of presenting “the real Israel”, where “people can express themselves…in an atmosphere of freedom, tolerance and diversity”.

Speaking alongside Taub at March’s launch event, SERET 2014’s programme director “said that the founders saw themselves as informal ambassadors for Israel”. Israeli actor Romi Aboulafia contrasted the festival with the “manipulated” picture presented of Israel by the media.

Another SERET co-founder, Odelia Haroush, was previously the marketing manager of the Ahava shop in Covent Garden that closed following sustained protests by Palestine solidarity activists. Haroush has presented the film festival as a direct response to the boycott campaigners.

Using culture to normalise or hide Israeli apartheid is a long-standing strategy of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and lobby groups. Nonetheless, as Israeli writer Reuven Namdar described recently in Haaretz, an “international boycott…is slowly solidifying around Israel’s cultural life”, a trend unlikely to be reversed in light of the peace process breakdown and continued Israeli colonisation.


The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.