Language supporting boycott of Israel deleted from Manhattan JCC official’s article

( Language supporting a boycott of Israel has been removed from a Huffington Post op-ed written by Isaac Zablocki, director of film programs and the Israel Film Center for the JCC in Manhattan.

The JCC in Manhattan, whose director of film programs expressed support for boycotts of Israel in a Huffington Post op-ed, but then removed that language for the article. Credit: Team Boerum via Wikimedia Commons.

In the original op-ed, posted Aug. 15, Zablocki stated, “In the 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. 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.”

The new version of the op-ed does not include the words “and the importance of the use of boycott to get international attention towards pressuring Israel to end the occupation is unquestionable.”

In his op-ed, Zablocki opposed a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement letter asking Iranian film director Moshen Makhmalbaf to boycott the Jerusalem Film Festival. He also criticized calls for Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri to boycott the festival.

Before the language in Zablocki’s op-ed was altered, he defended the story in a comment on its Web page.

“I do not support BDS as has been claimed,” Zablocki said. “I oppose it in all forms. In my article, I only intended to assert the obvious, which is that while people have the right to boycott, I do not support it when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” 

Lori Lowenthal Marcus, president and founder of the pro-Israel group Z Street, responded to Zablocki’s comment by asking him, “So, to be clear, the word ‘however’ in the 5th paragraph of your article is not intended as a distinction between the economic boycott of ‘products and businesses’ to ‘get international attention towards pressuring Israel to end the occupation,’ which you said was an ‘unquestionabl[y]’ ‘welcome form of protest’ for the ‘Israeli-Palestinian conflict’ and the disfavored boycott of the arts, culture and academics?” 

“And what you really meant to write was that any boycotts of Israel, whether they be of businesses, industries or anything else, including the arts, academia and culture, are shortsighted and unhelpful?” Marcus wrote in a comment. “You do not support the BDS movement at all because it makes engagement impossible? Please take this one more step so everyone can understand, because your article and your clarification significantly conflict on material points.”

The language in Zablocki’s op-ed was subsequently changed.

Posted on August 21, 2013 .