BERLIN (JTA) — German police are investigating a violent protest in Hamburg against the screening of a documentary on Israel.
Movie-goers attempting to see the 1973 Claude Lanzmann film "Why Israel?" late last month reportedly were beaten, spat on and called "Jewish pigs."
The Oct. 25 screening and discussion were canceled and rescheduled for Dec. 13. Two individuals have filed suit, according to news reports.
Lanzmann, Jewish leaders in Hamburg and the local branch of the German-Israel Society expressed shock at the incident.
The program was organized by the pro-Israel, left-wing group Kritikmaximierung along with a cinema club. The extreme far-left, anti-Israel Internationalen Zentrum B5 group set up a mock Israeli border checkpoint outside the theater.
Witnesses told der Spiegel that 30 to 40 hooded demonstrators, from teens to seniors, verbally and physically abused those trying to enter the theater and filmed them.
At least three people were punched in the face, and one was attacked by an older, belt-wielding man, according to news reports.
Lanzmann, 83, wondered why the incident received little news coverage in Germany.
"They call it anti-Zionism, but it is anti-Semitism," the French filmmaker, best known for his "Shoah" documentary, told der Spiegel.
Internationalen Zentrum B5 said in a statement that its supporters were protesting against the other "pro-Zionist" left-wing group and not against the film. The statement said the group opposes racism, sexism, fascism, anti-Semitism and Zionism.
"Why Israel?," Lanzmann’s first film, consists of interviews with Israelis about their lives in the Jewish state.