Israel protests screening of film at United Nations


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel is protesting the screening of a controversial film on the Israel-Palestinian conflict in the main hall of the United Nations General Assembly.

The screening Monday evening will be the U.S. premiere of the film "Miral" by award-winning American-Jewish director Julian Schnabel.

"Miral" is based on the 2004 autobiographical novel by Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal that traces the Arab-Israeli conflict after 1948 from the perspective of a Palestinian orphan. Jebreal and Schnabel are a couple.

"We find it very troubling that the U.N. has chosen to feature this film in the GA Hall," Israel’s U.N. delegation said in a letter of complaint sent March 11 to Joseph Deiss, the president of the U.N. General Assembly. "We are not aware of any other films with such contentious political content that have received this kind of endorsement from the President of the GA."

The showing of the movie, the letter said, "will mark a rare occasion in which the U.N.’s GA Hall is used for a movie premiere. This is clearly a politicized decision of the U.N., one that shows poor judgment and a lack of evenhandedness."

A panel discussion with Jebreal and Schnabel attended by representatives of several U.N. delegations is scheduled for after the movie. 

American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris said in a letter to Deiss that showing such a film in the U.N. General Assembly hall “will only serve to reinforce the already widespread view that Israel simply cannot expect fair treatment in the U.N.”

Harris expressed concern that "the President of the General Assembly would wish to associate himself — and the prestige of his office — with such a blatantly one-sided event." He urged Deiss to reconsider the decision.

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