Toronto Star Article Of “Palestine Film Festival” Quotes Anti-Israel Filmmaker Claiming Israel Is A “Settler Colonial” State

September 28, 2023

In an article in the September 27 edition of the Toronto Star entitled: “Toronto Palestine Film Festival: How a scrappy, student-led film fest evolved into a broad-ranging celebration of Palestinian culture,” author Richie Assaly introduced readers to the “Toronto Palestine Film Festival”, and a number of its films and filmmakers.

One of the filmmakers introduced by Assaly is Rana Nazzal Hamadeh, and her film, which connects its main story of a Palestinian woman in Ramallah and a Mohawk woman in Quebec through the sumac spice.

In the piece, Assaly quoted Hamadeh saying that her goal in the film is to “reflect on the parallels that exist in these two settler colonial contexts,” Israel and Canada.

While art is subjective, truth is not, and while anti-Israel detractors have frequently made the claim that Israel is a “settler colonial” state, nothing could be further from the truth.

Unlike a settler colonial state, which imports its people to another land for the purpose of conquering it, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish People, who have three thousand years of continual habitation in their ancestral homeland. To call Israel a “setter colonial” state is not a political opinion or an expression of opposition to Israeli government policies; rather, it is an attempt to rewrite history and erase three millennia of Jewish presence.

Hamadeh’s words are far from anomalous; she has frequently attempted to twist the truth in pursuit of an anti-Israel agenda. In a recent column in Briarpatch Magazine, a Regina, Saskatchewan-based publication, Hamadeh outlandishly alleged that Israel carried out ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

Elsewhere, Hamadeh defended Palestinian terrorism, writing on Twitter in 2018 that Hamas – the Islamist terrorist organization best known for massacring innocent Israelis – “maintains that right,” namely, to wage war. In the same Twitter thread, Hamadeh wrote that “we can’t deny the right to armed resistance,” and that “their resistance is legitimate.”

Hamadeh has also whitewashed Palestinian terrorists in general, writing in a Twitter post that all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails – including those incarcerated for violent activities – are little more than “political prisoners.”

In describing the genesis of the film festival, Assaly wrote that it was first founded to mark the “60th anniversary of the Nakba, a term that means ‘catastrophe’ in Arabic, and which refers to the mass displacement and dispossession of Palestinians that resulted from the Arab-Israeli War and the creation of Israel in 1948.”

This paragraph is riddled with misconceptions. It is certainly true that nakba, which means catastrophe in Arabic, is a term used by anti-Israel activists to refer to Israel’s independence in 1948, but what Assaly failed to acknowledge is how the term is used to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist, lamenting its very presence as a horrific mistake.

Assaly continued his description of “nakba” by writing that “The term is also commonly used to refer to the ongoing occupation and displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.”

This is also a deeply misleading statement. Firstly, in no way does Israel occupy the Gaza Strip. Israel withdrew its citizens, civilian and military alike, in 2005 in the Gaza Disengagement.

Secondly, while Israel remains present in much of Judea and Samaria (often called the “West Bank” by the news media), not only does Israel possess extensive legal title to the lands, but that in the absence of any final status peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel cannot occupy a state that does not exist. And if the Palestinian leadership decided to negotiate in good faith with Israel, and cease its efforts to murder Israelis, it would likely today have seen a Palestinian state come to fruition.

Despite claims to Judea & Samaria by both Israel and the Palestinians – pending a final status arrangement – there remains no “dispossession” of Palestinians from their land; the population of Palestinians there steadily rises every year.

If The Toronto Star wishes to cover the Toronto Palestine Film Festival, it is their prerogative to do so, but in quoting the (unchallenged) anti-Israel ravings of a filmmaker, while giving credence and legitimacy to the hateful “nakba” myth, all while ignoring Hamadeh’s extensive terrorist whitewashing, only perpetuates anti-Israel misinformation.

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