Boulder-Nablus Film Series Reveals Blatant Anti-Israel Bias
Kathryn Bernheimer, CineMaven,

Boulder-Nablus Film Series Reveals Blatant Anti-Israel Bias

Kathryn Bernheimer
Kathryn Bernheimer

As the cultural arts director of the Boulder JCC, the author of “The 50 Greatest Jewish Movies,” the film critic for the Boulder Daily Camera from 1980-1996, and the director of the Boulder Jewish Film Festival, I am uniquely qualified to comment on the film series presented by BNSCP (Boulder-Nablus Sister City Project).

I regularly show films dealing with the conflict in the Middle East. Many express criticism of Israel. Many express hope for peaceful co-existence. Many provide a balanced and nuanced view of the complexity of the conflict.

In March, at the Boulder Jewish Film Festival, I screened “Precious Life,” about a Palestinian family whose child will die without expensive surgery provided by a generous Israeli doctor. Last week I led the talkback at the Boedecker Theater for “The Gatekeepers,” an Israeli film that casts a critical eye on the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency. I have shown “The Syrian Bride” and “The Band’s Visit,” both of which deal sympathetically with the Israeli and Arab characters. I have shown a series of films from Middle Eastern countries that deal with the treatment of women in the Muslim world.

I refrain from showing propaganda films that demonize Israel or that demonize Muslims. I categorically reject inflammatory, one-sided, deceitful movies on either side of the debate.

The BNSCP claims its goal is peaceful co-existence. The organization’s film series, which is their major outreach event, makes very clear that its true intention is quite different. The choice of highly biased films that only support the Palestinian narrative indicates a mission of engendering hatred for Israel.

During the first BNSCP film series, shown during the summer of 2012, the group screened several movies.  “Budrus,” for example, focuses on a “non-violent” resistance movement in a village in the disputed territories, without ever explaining the reasons for Israel’s security measures. “Slingshot Hip Hop” gives voice to youthful Palestinian rage against Jews and Israel, again without any context. “Salt of the Sea” is about a Palestinian-American woman who “takes” the right of return – something denied the 800,000 Jews expelled from Arab lands. “Until When” focuses on Palestinian families dealing with the harsh realities of their lives, with no explanation of the reasons for these hardships, or of the inability of citizens like them who may want to live in peace to influence the regime’s decisions that keep them trapped.

During the second BNSCP film series in February, 2013, the series kicked off with “Five Broken Cameras,” which depicts Palestinian resistance to a security barrier without explaining the need for the barrier or how the “fence” has effectively reduced the loss of both Israeli and Palestinian lives to terrorism. “Wedding in Galilee” is a 1987 film about a Palestinian who wants to break a curfew for his daughter’s wedding, a request that is honored, but the reason for the curfew is again omitted. Once again, Israel’s security concerns are never addressed.

Films such as these do not provide education. They advocate for a political point of view. They engender sympathy for the Palestinian cause with no balance, no reference to the other side of the equation, no mention of Israeli suffering or to the Palestinian commitment to terrorism.

Thus, rather than promote peaceful coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis, the predominant audience effect sought by the BNSCP through the films selected is to favor the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel.

About Kathryn Bernheimer

Kathryn has spent her professional life writing about, teaching, and presenting the arts. Founding Director of the Boulder Jewish Film Festival, Kathryn was Director of Menorah and ACE at the Boulder JCC from 2003 through August, 2019. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time."

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  1. Kathryn, seems you omitted one from the group's most recent series: The Human Turbine. Here's the description from the group's brochure, "This documentary by award winning writer and director, Dan Verete, follows the deepening personal relationships developing between several Israeli kibbutz dwellers and displaced Palestinians from the village of Susia in the Hebron Hills, as Israelis seek to help them to acquire electricity by using solar and wind power."
    Fair is fair, Kathryn. If you're going to criticize this group for the films they show, let's include all of them so that we can draw our own conclusions.

  2. In case it is not clear, this article in an op-ed that expresses my personal opinion based on my professional experience. It does not reflect any position being taken the the Boulder JCC, which rightfully refrains from taking political positions. I am speaking solely as an individual.

  3. It is called Palestine Film Series.

    Perhaps if you had called it Israel and Palestine Series, or Middle East Series Ms. Bernheimer and others would have a different impression.

    Lindsey, did you see the Human Turbine? What did you think? Who led the discussion after the film? How many attended?