As anti-Zionst, anti-colonial, queer (and allied) Jews, Tzedek Collective is extremely disappointed in the Melbourne Queer Film Festival’s decision to maintain the programming of “The Swimmer” in their upcoming program, despite widespread outcry from queer and Palestinian communities across the continent. We urge MQFF to listen to Palestinians when they tell you that pinkwashing has devastating consequences for queer lives in Palestine and beyond!

Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the call to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) the Israeli state and its cultural outputs comes directly from Palestinian civil society bodies. The aim of the BDS movement is to put non-violent pressure on the Israeli state and economy until the occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land has ceased, & border walls dismantled; the fundamental rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel are recognised; & right of return granted to all Palestinian refugees as stipulated in the UN Resolution 194.

In solidarity with Palestinian communities both in Palestine and the diaspora, we recognise and heed their call for a cultural boycott, which extends to Adam Kalderon’s film “The Swimmer”, which has been programmed to screen at MQFF later this week. We are also disappointed that MQFF has today announced their decision to proceed with the film’s programming, ahead of a meeting with queer Palestinian advocates which was scheduled for tomorrow.

We would also like to note that the connection between Kalderon’s “The Swimmer” and Israeli colonial apartheid is an explicit one, as the film was funded by the Israeli Film Fund. This state-funding of queer storytelling is a clear obfuscation of Israeli war crimes against queer Palestinians, and the Palestinian people as a whole. While many of the films programmed in MQFF are funded by their countries of origin, the majority of these countries are not currently the subjects of boycott campaigns by First Nations communities.

Our boycott is not an exceptionalisation of Israeli state violence; rather, if and when First Nations communities across the world call for boycotts of states which occupy their lands, we will continue to recognise these calls just as equally. This includes the colonial nation-states of America and Canada which occupy Turtle Island, and our own home colony of so-called Australia. Our obligation to boycott Israeli cultural outputs arises from our solidarity with Palestinian and First Nations communities both here and abroad.

MQFF’s aspiration to remain “apolitical” is deeply confounding and neoliberal; need we remind you that queer liberation is fundamentally bound to the liberation of all colonised peoples? Or is that no longer on the agenda?

To this end, Tzedek Collective will be boycotting the MQFF until it implements a full BDS policy in its programming. We also urge the other programmed MQFF filmmakers to withdraw their work in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle against ongoing colonisation.

No pride in apartheid.