Ziad Doueiri is a Lebanese director. His latest film, The Insult, is about an argument between a Palestinian refugee and a Lebanese Christian man that develops into a legal and violent fight. The film was popular enough in its native country to merit selection as Lebanon’s entry for the Oscars’ foreign film category. But they won’t be showing it in Ramallah anytime soon: Earlier this week, the city’s municipality cancelled a planned screening because of Doueiri’s previous collaboration with Israel.
Collaboration may not even be the right word: The director’s previous work, The Attack, was about a Palestinian surgeon carrying out a suicide bombing. It was filmed, in part, in Israel, a sin for which Doueiri has never apologized.
“Screening this film at a Palestinian festival is a humiliation for all Palestinians and free people who support the Palestinian cause,” read a flier by a group called Youth Against Normalization. The official Facebook page of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, the BDS movement’s umbrella organization, initially congratulated the film’s star, the Palestinian actor Kamel El Basha, for winning the best actor award at the Venice International Film Festival last month, but did not mention the name of the film for which he was honored. When BDS activists demanded greater clarity, Haaretz correspondent Amira Haas reported, the movement issued a clear call to cancel the film’s screening in order “to prevent the director from exploiting the showing of his film in occupied Palestine to advance normalization in the Arab world.”
This is not the first time Doueiri was targeted. Returning home to Lebanon from the Venice festival earlier this fall, he was detained without charges and held for a day before being released by a military tribunal questioning his previous interaction with the Jewish state.
Judging by its trailer, the film, which does not yet have a U.S. release date, looks intriguing, with a judge speaking a line Doueiri’s rabid critics would do well to take to heart: “Even if you are the most oppressed person, it gives you no excuse to be violent.”
In related news, there are about 400,000 Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon under what Human Rights Watch has described as “appalling social and economic conditions,” prohibited by the Lebanese government from owning property or practicing a long line of professions, including law, medicine, and engineering.