Tuesday, August 20, 2013

  • Tuesday, August 20, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Realscreen.com:
Toronto-based documentary maker John Greyson (pictured) has been arrested in Egypt, according to multiple international reports.

Greyson, whose doc Fig Trees won a Teddy Award for Best Documentary at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival, was arrested on Friday (August 16), along with Tarek Loubani, an Ontario-based emergency room doctor.

The pair were in Egypt en route to Gaza, with Greyson exploring the possibility of making a documentary on the work Loubani was to undertake. With the border crossing closed, the two men became stranded in Egypt.

Caitlin Workman, a spokesperson for the department of foreign affairs, told the Toronto Star that the government was aware of the arrests. “The embassy in Cairo is in contact with local authorities and we are prepared to provide consular assistance,” she said.

According to the CBC, Justin Podur – a professor at York University, where Greyson also teaches – informs that he has received word from the two men and that they are both okay for the time being.

The Toronto Palestine Film Festival (TPFF) today issued a notice expressing concern for the safety of the two men; Greyson is a TPFF advisory board member.

“Canadian and Egyptian authorities should be aware of Professor Greyson’s and Dr. Loubani’s dedication to humanitarian work in their fields,” the TPFF stated. “In addition to being an admired university professor and award-winning filmmaker, Professor Greyson has played an integral role in the festival as an advisor for the last five years, providing us with invaluable programming guidance and support.

“Professor Greyson has used his skill, art and reputation to spotlight human rights issues in Canada and abroad, including the plight of Palestinians.”

In addition to winning a Berlinale award in 2009, Greyson also drew attention that year when he withdrew his short documentary Covered from the Toronto International Film Festival, in protest of the festival’s inaugural City to City Spotlight being on the city of Tel Aviv.
Greyson's letter to the Toronto International Film Festival shows how much he hates Israel and how easily he lies about it:
This past year has also seen: the devastating Gaza massacre of eight months ago, resulting in over 1000 civilian deaths; the election of a Prime Minister accused of war crimes; the aggressive extension of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands; the accelerated destruction of Palestinian homes and orchards; the viral growth of the totalitarian security wall, and the further enshrining of the check-point system. Such state policies have led diverse figures such as John Berger, Jimmy Carter, and Bishop Desmond Tutu to characterize this 'brand' as apartheid. Your TIFF program book may describe Tel Aviv as a "vibrant young city... of beaches, cafes and cultural ferment... that celebrates its diversity," but it's also been called "a kind of alter-Gaza, the smiling face of Israeli apartheid" (Naomi Klein) and "the only city in the west without Arab residents" (Tel Aviv filmmaker Udi Aloni).

To my mind, this isn't the right year to celebrate Brand Israel, or to demonstrate an ostrich-like indifference to the realities (cinematic and otherwise) of the region, or to pointedly ignore the international economic boycott campaign against Israel. Launched by Palestinian NGO's in 2005, and since joined by thousands inside and outside Israel, the campaign is seen as the last hope for forcing Israel to comply with international law. By ignoring this boycott, TIFF has emphatically taken sides --and in the process, forced every filmmaker and audience member who opposes the occupation to cross a type of picket line.

A group of celebrities including Jerry Seinfeld, Sacha Baron Cohen, Natalie Portman, Jason Alexander and Lisa Kudrow, slammed Greyson's position. The usual Israel bashers like Alice Walker, Ken Loach and David Byrne expressed support. So did Jane Fonda, who later changed her mind.

Rafah has been closed by Egypt, and it is possible that Egyptian authorities are suspicious that anyone who tries to travel to Gaza is a supporter of Hamas. In this case, they are probably right.

(h/t Josh, Russell)

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