The actress,Vanessa Redgrave, has long been an activist for the Palestinian cause and a vociferous critic of Israel. Ms. Redgrave has not likely altered this basic view, but a news article in Haaretz reveals her to be an unusually intelligent and sensitive voice on the Toronto Film Festival controversy about honoring the city of Tel Aviv on its 100th anniversary year:
In a letter to the New York Review of Books co-signed by artist Julian Schnabel and playwright Martin Sherman, Redgrave defends the festival’s choice to spotlight Tel Aviv and denounces those who have called for a boycott.
“We oppose the current Israeli government, but it is a government,” Redgrave and her co-signatories wrote in their letter, “Freely elected. Not a regime. Words matter.” …
“Thousands of Palestinians have died through the years because the Israeli government, military, and part of the population fervently believe that the Arab states and, indeed, much of the world do not want Israel to exist.
“How then are we halting this never-ending cycle of violence by promoting the very fears that cause it?
“Many citizens of Tel Aviv are particularly aware of the situation of the Palestinians and are concerned about their government’s policies and their country’s future. And none more so than the Tel Aviv creative community. This is exemplified by Israeli films that criticize their government’s behavior.
“These citizens of Tel Aviv and their organizations and their cultural outlets should be applauded and encouraged.
“We do not agree that this involvement is a reason to shun or protest, picket or boycott, or ban people who are expressing thoughts and confronting grief that, ironically, many of the protesters share.”