Zablocki, director of film programs and the Israel Film Center for the JCC in
Manhattan, expressed public support for boycotts of Israel.
The JCC in Manhattan, whose director of film programs expressed public support for boycotts of Israel in a Huffington Post op-ed. Credit: Team Boerum via Wikimedia Commons.
Zablocki, in an Aug. 15
blog post for the Huffington Post,
opposed a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement letter to Iranian
film director Moshen Makhmalbaf that asked
Makhmalbaf to boycott the Jerusalem Film Festival. Zablocki also criticized calls for Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri to boycott the festival.
opposition to those efforts, however, Zablocki supported the broader
concept of boycotting Israel.
case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nonviolence is a welcome form of
protest for the region, and the importance of the use of boycott to get
international attention towards pressuring Israel to end the occupation is
unquestionable,” Zablocki wrote. “However, the protest of art, culture and
education brings up dangers in the realm of freedom and evolution of thought.
Artists and educators have an important impact on changing society.”
start to boycott art and limit the reach of great minds and talent to places,
we are limiting potential of change,” he added.
Richard Allen, head of the pro-Israel group JCC Watch, said
Zablocki’s support of boycotts of Israel is “not shocking,” in light of the JCC
in Manhattan hosting of events promoting groups such as B’Tselem,
Partners for Progressive Israel, and the New Israel Fund. Those groups have
been tied to the funding and promotion of BDS, but all deny that they
officially support the movement.
“We’ve been trying to call attention to the problems at the JCC in Manhattan
for many years now,” Allen told JNS.org.
Rabbi Joy Levitt, executive director of the JCC in Manhattan,
said the organization “does not support BDS.”
“We stand with Israel against de-legitimization and emphasize
this through the JCC’s David H. Sonabend Center for Israel,” Levitt wrote in an
email to JNS.org.
“Mr. Zablocki’s intention with
his Huffington Post article was the
exact opposite of its perception and was written to reject BDS as insidious,”
The JCC in Manhattan, according to the most
recent Internal Revenue Service Form 990 available, received $571,000 from the
UJA-Federation of New York in 2011. JCC Watch, which has been calling for new
guidelines that prevent the UJA-Federation of New York’s funding of activities
that give a platform to BDS activists, arranged for three protests over the
last three months on that issue outside of New York City’s 92nd Street Y, in
response to the Y’s invitation of anti-Israel activists Roger Waters (the Pink
Floyd band member) and Alice Walker (the author of “The Color Purple”). The Y
is also funded by the UJA-Federation.
Starting Sept. 12, Allen’s group will move
its monthly protests from the Y to outside the UJA-Federation building. Promotion
of BDS “should not be done with Jewish charitable money,” Allen said.
The UJA-Federation did not immediately return
a request for comment from JNS.org.