The festival opened on 20 October with a film which was aired in Sweden by the educational broadcasting company (“The Occupation of the American Mind") and caused a controversy, but not in Belgium where it even received a prize. The theme is not new. In 2006 Jean Bricmont who teaches physics at the Catholic University of Louvain and is a fellow-member of the prestigious Belgian Royal Academy of Science, Letters and Fine Arts, warned against the Zionization of the American mind.
Lifted from the festival programme:
The Jury Prize has been awarded to the documentary The Occupation of the American Mind, which explores the way in which the pro-Zionist lobby has for several decades been able to influence - and even shape - media coverage about the Israel-Palestine conflict so that it is systematically in favour of Israel. Carefully honed, effective propaganda seeks to impose on the American mind and media a truncated and biased vision of this major conflict. The film provides pertinent and incontrovertible evidence of this state of affairs. The Festival of Libertés jury has decided to support this film and its directors, who have had difficulty finding distributors and theatres in the United States.
The Occupation of the American Mind/ Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States.This film decodes the coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by mainstream American media and reveals the communication strategy implemented by Zionist lobbies in order for their point of view to become the vision shared by a majority of Americans. A constant barrage of rockets on the news and an insistence on "the right of Israel to defend itself" are the main weapons of this propaganda campaign.
The screening was followed by a discussion session with Sut Jhally, George Matta (film producers) and Frank Barat (of the Russell International Tribunal on Palestine, a kangaroo court made in Belgium...)
Other Israel-bashing films screened:
HOTLINE - Silvia Landesman, Based in Tel Aviv (Israel)
Hotline is an organisation that helps migrants. It fights a hard battle for human rights in a country which basically does not recognize any refugees and does anything possible to send migrants back to their countries, especially South Sudanese and Eritrean people, who risk deportation and even death. Under threats and insults from locals who are often radically opposed to them and amid the quagmire of legislation, Hotline opens the offices of their mission impossible for all to see.
Best Israeli Documentary, Jerusalem Film Festival, 2015
A short animated film directed by students and based on the stories of African refugees, imprisoned in Holot, a detention centre for migrants in the heart of Southern Israel’s Negev desert. Its long detention times without trial have been ruled unconstitutional and while the centre is "open", it requires three signatures each day to come and go.
THIS IS MY LAND - Tamara Erde
How is history taught in Israel? Or in Palestine? What kind of effects can the historical perspective presented by teachers have on young students? Are they building walls in their head even before becoming adults? This Is My Land explores three types of teaching, three co-existing worlds: an Israeli school, a Palestinian school and a combined school. Social Justice Prize, DC Filmfest (Washington), 2015 • First Prize Documentary, FIFOG Festival (Genève), 2015 • First Prize, PRIMED Enjeux Mediterraneens (Marseille), 2014
The screening was followed by a meeting with Tamara Erde (film director), Simone Susskind (a member of the Brussels parliament, president of Actions in the Mediterranean and a member of the major Belgian Jewish organisation, CCLJ, which regularly engages in Israel-bashing) and Hamdan Al Damari (representative from Liège of the Palestinian Community in Belgium and Luxembourg).