WASHINGTON (JTA) — Actress Vanessa Redgrave is defending the Toronto Film Festival’s decision to showcase films about Tel Aviv.
In a letter to the New York Review of Books co-written by artist Julian Schnabel and playwright Martin Sherman, Redgrave said the protest by a group of filmmakers and other artists of the film festival’s decision to feature Tel Aviv in its "City to City" program was "improperly thought out" and has "distressing implications."
Redgrave has been a longtime supporter of the Palestine Liberation Organization and supported a British boycott of Israeli artists in the 1980s.
The letter notes that many films and plays criticizing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians come from artists who live in Tel Aviv.
"Many citizens of Tel Aviv are particularly cognizant of the situation of the Palestinians and are concerned about their government’s policies and their country’s future," it said. "None more so than the Tel Aviv creative community.
"Those citizens of Tel Aviv and their organizations and their cultural outlets should be applauded and encouraged. Their presence and their continued activity is reason alone to celebrate their city."
Redgrave and her co-authors also criticized the protesters’ use of the term "apartheid regime" in their protest letter, stating "we oppose the current Israeli government, but it is a government. Freely elected. Not a regime. Words matter.
"The point finally is not to grandstand but to inch toward a two-state solution."