After postponing a screening of an anti-Israel documentary narrated by pro-BDS activist and former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters, the Maryland municipality of Takoma Park, a suburb of Washington, D.C., has rescheduled the showing for next week.
“Occupation of the American Mind” will be screened on July 23.
According to Culture Spot MD, a website by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, where Takoma Park is located, the film “is a captivating documentary that reveals how the Israeli government, U.S. government, and pro-Israel lobbying groups have engaged in a decades-long propaganda campaign to shape American media coverage of Israel and its occupation of Palestinian lands … the film examines how the Israeli government has sought to avoid condemnation for civilian deaths, the blockade of the Gaza Strip, and illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank that are a ‘flagrant violation’ of international law according to the United Nations.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington was described as being outraged by the rescheduling instead of the screening being canceled altogether.
JCRC executive director Ronald Halber told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the choice was a “leadership failure.”
“A municipality is using taxpayer money to show a widely rejected ‘documentary’ narrated by a notorious anti-Semite that peddles anti-Semitic canards,” he said. “They should be bringing people together, not dividing them.”
The municipality invited a JCRC official to be on a panel with officials from anti-Israel groups Jewish Voice for Peace and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
In a letter on Thursday to the municipality, Halber and Meredith Weisel, its director of Maryland community relations, said: “We were given less than two days to respond to your invitation, which asks us to sit on a panel with two organizations explicitly opposed to the very existence of the State of Israel and the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. That is hardly the basis for a respectful and productive dialogue.”
Takoma Park spokesperson Donna Wright told JTA that the panel would consist of “diverse viewpoints” about the film.
“The decision was made to proceed after consideration of the best way to do so while also allowing for a facilitated discussion and dialogue,” she told the outlet. “The plan developed included participation of representatives with diverse viewpoints who we hoped would share their perspectives and insights regarding issues, and how they are portrayed by the film.”