Joint statement by organizers of Fedayin film showing at UBC:
“The Palestinian Youth Movement-Vancouver, SPHR UBC, and Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Network – Vancouver planned a film showing of Fedayin: Georges Abdallah’s Fight for Thursday, December 2nd, but it was postponed by the university administration on Wednesday, December 1 after a complaint was made about the film by an external, national right-wing Zionist organization.
While the university says that it is conducting a “risk assessment” for “security and safety” on campus, the reality is that its actions mean that a film presenting the Palestinian narrative, and the life and struggle of Georges Abdallah, is not being shown tonight on campus because an official of a Zionist organization sent an email opposing the political content of a film. This film has been screened in multiple venues and university campuses across Canada and around the world and has been selected by multiple prestigious film festivals for screening. UBC is the only venue where such an incident of silencing and suppression has occurred.
During the May 2021 uprisings in Palestine and abroad, academics, labour unions, artists, musicians, journalists, and the international community published statements in support of Palestinian liberation and against the Israeli settler colonial regime. For too long, institutions have been succumbing to Zionist pressure and censoring Palestinian speech. No external Zionist pressure should take importance over the community and Palestinian organizers.
This is a clear threat to academic freedom and an example of discrimination and anti-Palestinian racism. External pressure from a national lobby organization is treated as if it is a higher priority than the well-being of students on campus, particularly Palestinian students and allies of Palestine. University officials did not reach out to Palestinian students and inquire about their well-being or need for support after being targeted by a national right-wing lobby group. Instead, they postponed the film screening to “determine risk.”
We expect that the University of British Columbia will expeditiously complete its risk assessment review and that we will soon announce a new date for the screening. We further expect the university to live up to its obligations to its students and as a centre for higher learning by appropriately dismissing these complaints made by a lobby organization that does not want the Palestinian histories to be told at UBC.
In addition, we expect that the administration provide support to Palestinian students on campus and facilitate the screening of “Fedayin” rather than allowing anti-Palestinian racism to delay, suppress and silence our expression. We will announce the new date for the film at UBC as soon as possible, and we will not stop organizing.
We encourage organizations to screen the film in your local areas, campuses and communities in order to hear the narrative that Zionist lobby groups want to silence: that is, the narrative of the Palestinian people – denied their humanity for over 73 years of ethnic cleansing, yet continuing to struggle for justice, freedom and liberation.
The university taking 30 days to complete a risk assessment is a statement in itself. They chose to listen to Zionist pressure instead of allowing the film screening to proceed and discuss it with the organizers involved.”