After 15 years of inactivity, Israel's Censorship Board is back in action, and courting controversy with its ban on Wednesday of the documentary Jenin, Jenin.
The board's decision to ban the public screening of the documentary shot by Israeli-Arab actor-director Mukhammad Bakkri in the Jenin refugee camp after the military incursion of the Israeli Army there, has caused an outcry among the country's liberal circles. They feel this is one more blow to democracy dealt by the right-wing Likkud government, seeking re-election in January 2003.
Calling the film 'one-sided propaganda' the board argued that the film delivers an inaccurate account of the events which took place in the camp, repeating accusations and tendentious testimonies without mentioning their public refutation by the Israeli authorities and offends Israeli audiences by inferring IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) is responsible for war crimes perpetrated in the camp .
The film has been well-received on the international screening circuit, winning best film at the recent Carthage film festival in Tunisia.
Bakkri, who has already been attacked after showing his film in private screenings, has claimed his film does not pretend to show all the aspects and offer all the arguments around the much-publicised events which took place in the ill-fated refugee camp.
His intention was to reflect the feelings and the state of the innocent victims who lost everything in the total destruction which ensued as a result of Israel's punitive action. By showing it to Israelis, who are exposed as a rule only to one version of the facts that advertised by the official organs of the country, he believes he is contributing to a better understanding between Israelis and Arabs, the only way that would lead to an eventual peace between them.