Director of banned film nixes accord

Reuters

An Israeli Arab whose film on Israel's assault on the Jenin refugee camp is banned in the Jewish state said Tuesday he had rejected an offer to allow the documentary to air if some sensitive scenes were removed.

Mohammad Bakri said he preferred viewers see his "Jenin, Jenin" in its entirety or not at all. The film is temporarily banned pending a ruling on an appeal to Israel's Supreme Court.

"They gave me a compromise ... to cut some scenes from the film, and then they will allow the film. I refused this suggestion," the filmmaker told journalists. "I feel humiliated by this suggestion. I am not negotiating with anybody about my film, about my truths, about my point of view."

"Jenin, Jenin" depicts a 2002 Israeli raid in which troops battled Palestinian militants and bulldozers flattened the center of the camp. Nearly 60 Palestinians -- militants and civilians -- and 23 Israeli soldiers were killed.

Israel launched the offensive in Jenin and other West Bank cities after a spate of Palestinian suicide bombings.

The Supreme Court said it had proposed negotiations on possibly "omitting a limited number of scenes and adding explanatory subtitles for other scenes" so the film could air.

Bakri, whose film has been shown internationally, said he had not been told which scenes would have to be cut for the film to be shown. He urged the court to issue a final ruling now.

"Give me a decision, an immediate one," he said. "I believe there are two sides of the truth.... We always see the Israeli point of view. Now I am showing the Palestinian point of view. If this were a democratic place, they would show both sides."

The film quotes Jenin residents as saying that troops committed war crimes during the prolonged assault -- an accusation echoed by human rights groups.

The Israeli government and military denied the allegations and accused Palestinians of fabricating events. The army insists it did its utmost to avoid civilian casualties.

Israel's Film Ratings Board imposed the ban in 2002, calling Bakri's documentary a "distorted presentation" of the Israeli assault that could mislead the public.

The Supreme Court overturned the ban last year but later issued a temporary injunction to hear a separate petition against lifting censorship. That injunction remains in place.

The ban marked the first time in 15 years that Israel has censored a movie. In 1987, it banned the Japanese film "In the Realm of the Senses" for pornographic content.

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