As the Israel - Hamas war continues, the conflict has triggered the postponement of some events, including a film festival in Rochester that had been planned long before the attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
Rochester Witness for Palestine was scheduled to take place this coming weekend and the following weekend at Rochester’s Little Theatre.
The Little Theatre has hosted the annual film festival for the last decade.
Supporters say it’s an educational program that helps to share what Palestinians have been going through in their daily lives. But the Jewish Federation of Rochester says the Jewish community is very concerned about safety.
The Jewish Federation reached out to the theatre’s owner calling for a postponement.
A request that has been granted.
“My concern about the film festival is that it’s billed as a Palestinian Film Festival, but when you dig in and look at the movies, they are a series of really anti-Israel propaganda,” said Meredith Dragon of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester. “So I have a hard time looking at it as a cultural festival when the theme is anti-Israel and anti-Israel propaganda and anti-Zionist propaganda in particular. I’m really grateful to the leadership at WXXI, the owners of the Little Theatre, for their quick response and their quick action. It’s very appreciated and I know our community will rest easier knowing that this isn’t happening right now.”
“As for my response for the Jewish Federation working to cancel it, I think it should be absolutely ashamed,” Witness for Palestine member Iman Abid said in response to the postponement. “I think that the Jewish Administration has actually tried to silence Palestinians, particularly women of color who choose to stand in solidarity with Palestinians, I myself being included as one of them. And I think there’s a deep fear that if more people understood what the Palestinians have been struggling with for the last few years, support for Israel will go down. And I think that this is only a part of that continued repression that’s been used to silence Palestinians.”
The Little confirmed the decision to postpone the festival after consulting with festival organizers. The Little Theatre issued a statement on Monday:
"Due to safety concerns for festival organizers, Little patrons and staff, the decision has been made to postpone. The Little supports the Jewish and Palestinian communities, both in Rochester and worldwide. We unequivocally condemn violence against any and all civilians."
There is no word on when the film festival may be rescheduled.