California University Hosts Screening Of Trans Director’s ‘Anti-Israel’ Film

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Kate Anderson Contributor
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A University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) professor hosted a screening Wednesday of a film, which many activists believe is anti-Israel, created by a Jewish transgender director.

The film “Israelism” follows the story of two American Jews who go from staunch supporters of Israel to “battling the old guard to fight for Palestinian equality,” according to the event page’s description. Jewish professor Dov Waxman, the chair for the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation in Israel Studies, hosted a screening of the movie and a question and answer session with director Eric Axelman, who is Jewish and transgender. (RELATED: Activists Push ‘No Pride In Apartheid’ Boycott Against Israel, Ignoring Gaza Anti-Gay Laws)

“Israelism explores the past, present and future of the relationship between American Jews and Israel,” the event page reads. “Dozens of American Jewish thinkers, community leaders and activists share stories of falling in and out of love with Israel, and competing visions for a Jewish future, while Israelis and Palestinians describe how their lives are affected by the decisions of a community half a world away.”

A participant waves a Palestinian flag while running along Israel's controversial separation barrier, which divides the West Bank from Jerusalem, in the biblical town of Bethlehem during the 6th International Palestine Marathon on March 23, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Musa AL SHAER (Photo credit should read MUSA AL SHAER/AFP/Getty Images)

A participant waves a Palestinian flag while running along Israel’s controversial separation barrier, which divides the West Bank from Jerusalem, in the biblical town of Bethlehem during the 6th International Palestine Marathon on March 23, 2018.  (MUSA AL SHAER/AFP/Getty Images)

In the film, Simone Zimmerman goes to college in America and Eitan joins the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Both witness “Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinian people” and eventually conclude that the “Jewish institutions” that raised them “built their Jewish identity around a lie,” according to IMDB.

Both Zimmerman and Eitan go on to fight for the rights of Palestinians and against the alleged human rights abuses committed by the Jewish state, according to IMDB. The film is similar to others that Axelman has produced in the past, saying in 2017 that Israel had come to embody racism, colonialism and occupation, according to the Portland Press Herald.

“Not only, as American Jews, are we not being told the truth about Israel, but the most disturbing aspect is the censorship of left-wing voices and voices that are critical of Israel in Jewish communities,” Axelman said.

The film has been criticized for its “anti-Israel” views by some in the Jewish community. David Suissa, the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Journal, wrote that the film portrays an intentionally biased portrait of Israel.

“I felt bad for the filmmakers because I could feel the exertion they must have gone through to stick to only one side of the story,” Suissa wrote. “There is no mention, for instance, of the UN role in the creation of Israel, Arab aggression at the birth of the state, chronic Palestinian terror and rejection of peace offers, the denial of any Jewish connection to Jerusalem, and on and on. These facts are so well known, I could almost feel the filmmakers asking themselves: ‘Should we include some of this stuff just to appear more balanced and credible?'”

Abraham Foxman, former director of the Anti-Defamation League, called the film both “anti-Israel and anti-American Jewish community.”

“Sadly and innocently I agreed to be interviewed being told that the film will examine the special relationship between Israel and American Jews,” Foxman wrote on Twitter. “What a sham. I regret being part of this.”

UCLA has a history of hosting antisemitic and anti-Israel events in the past. The university invited George Washington University professor Lara Sheehi, who is under investigation for allegations of antisemitic discrimination, to an event earlier this year. The school was also listed in the top 10 worst schools for antisemitism, according to a report from StopAntisemitism.

UCLA and Waxman did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. Axelman could not be reached for comment.

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