There are many strong supporters and friends of Israel who both agree and disagree with the decision of the Toronto International Film Festival ("TIFF") to launch a celebratory spotlight on the city of Tel Aviv which ignores the issues surrounding the treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
But all of us, regardless of how we feel about TIFF, should condemn the outrageous misrepresentations and accusations that have been leveled against Jane Fonda, a long-time supporter of Israel, who, along with nearly 1,000 others -- including many Israelis -- recently signed a letter protesting the decision.
Among those misrepresentations and accusations are that she called for a boycott of TIFF -- not true; that she called Tel Aviv illegitimate -- not true; and, perhaps the most outrageous one, that she supports the destruction of Israel -- absolutely not true. The claim that Fonda seeks Israel's destruction is shameless slander, pure and simple, and lobbing such an accusation makes it nearly impossible to hold an honest conversation about the present and future of Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
This entire firestorm is based on falsification. The "Toronto Declaration" that Jane Fonda signed states its opposition to TIFF's spotlight on Tel Aviv and clearly says that the signatories do not want and will not support a boycott on TIFF or the Israeli films being shown within it. (In fact, several of the signers have films in the festival.)
Still, various Jewish leaders and media outlets have claimed that Fonda and her co-signers advocate boycott. Have they even read the statement Fonda signed? When those leaders and outlets attack and mischaracterize those who disagree with them, they create the real risk that Israel's friends and supporters will see the attackers as representing the "true" Israel and then stop caring about Israel. Is that how we should be treating our friends?
People like Jane Fonda, and her co-signers including Danny Glover, Naomi Klein and Eve Ensler, are part of the school of thought that believes that ignoring one side's experience, no matter which side that is, is a surefire recipe for ongoing fighting and conflict. Not everyone agrees with that approach, but it's a valid one that aims for a just peace for all parties in the region.
Jane Fonda has done great good in Atlanta. She is the driving force behind G-CAPP, the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, that is committed to enriching the lives of young women and helping them achieve a healthy, productive future free of early pregnancy.
When she is mischaracterized through these outrageous misrepresentations and accusations, many in our community might not know the truth -- that Fonda is a strong supporter and friend of Israel -- and they may stop supporting G-CAPP. Were that to occur, not only would Israel's friend be hurt, so would thousands of teenagers who are helped by G-CAPP.
We are speaking out in support of Fonda because the truth must be known about her strong support for Israel, and we need to support G-CAPP not only for her, but also for the young women who need our help.
Rabbi Philip Kranz
Rabbi Josh Lesser
Glenda Blum Minkin
Dr. Michael Wolfson
All of the signers are affiliated with Jewish institutions in Atlanta, ranging from synagogues to the Jewish Federation to organizations dedicated to promoting the well-being of Israel. Lend your support to Jane by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.