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Berlin Film Festival Organizers Call for Ceasefire, as Bild Freaks Out

Berlin Film Festival Organizers Call for Ceasefire, Credit: CC/Mahrepa

On Feb. 16, the organizers of the Berlinale, or Berlin International Film Festival’s Forum Expanded program called for a ceasefire in Gaza, following letters signed by various filmmakers and other cultural workers, some of whom have canceled their participation in the festival as part of a “Strike Germany” boycott of German cultural institutions over the nation’s support for Israel’s killing in Gaza. “We, too, want to add our voice and share our concern by expressing that the Forum Expanded curators support the urgent call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza,” explained curator Ulrich Ziemons, whose remarks were met with applause.

When asked for comment by online publication Hyperallergic, the organizers of the parent Berlinale organization did not comment on the ceasefire call.

But Germany’s major tabloid, Bild, sure got upset! “New Anti-Semitism Scandal” screams its headline. “What a shame,” opens the Feb. 25 article. “Just a few months after the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, the most important German film festival, the Berlinale, shocks with hatred of Israel!”

What is the “hate” that Bild refers to? “Several award-winning artists accused the Jewish state of committing genocide in the Gaza Strip” (which is ongoing and can be stopped) without mentioning the killings by Hamas (which already happened and are in the past).

“But that’s not the end of the hate,” the tabloid explains, as it goes on to express outrage over three Instagram posts of “hatred”:

One includes the text “Ceasefire Now. Stop the genocide in Gaza.” ("There can be no question of genocide” replies Bild.) Another says “Free Palestine: from the river to the sea.” ("A forbidden saying” warns Bild.) And the third says “End the German-funded state terror.” (Bild assures its readers that “Israel is exercising its right to self-defense.")

(The Instagram posts no longer exist.)

The last two lines of the report are worth quoting in full:

“Likewise director Ben Russell (documentary film Direct Action), who appeared on stage with a Palestinian scarf and accused Israel of genocide.

“And the audience: cheered and clapped. The moderator remained silent about the inflammatory speeches against Israel and apparently saw no need to intervene.”

Are the Bild writers truly clueless about why the audience responded as it did?