Criticism of Israel at Berlin Film Festival Stirs Antisemitism Debate

When Yuval Abraham and Basel Adra walked onstage at the Berlin International Film Festival on Saturday night, they had come to talk about more than movies.

Abraham and Adra, an Israeli and Palestinian filmmaking team, had just won the festival’s award for best documentary for “No Other Land,” a movie about Palestinian resistance to Israeli campaigns in the occupied territories. It was “very hard,” Adra said, to celebrate the award “when there are tens of thousands of my people being slaughtered and massacred by Israel in Gaza.”

He called upon German lawmakers to “stop sending weapons to Israel,” before Abraham called for a cease-fire and an end to Israel’s occupation.

The audience, which included the culture minister of Germany, Claudia Roth, applauded loudly, and there were whistles and cheers in the hall.

In the days since, Abraham and Adra’s speeches have become the latest flashpoint in a long-running debate in Germany around whether public statements by filmmakers, musicians and other artists should be described as antisemitic if they don’t line up with Germany’s official stance on Israel.

Scores of German journalists and politicians have denounced the speeches. On Sunday, Kai Wegner, the mayor of Berlin, said in posts on X that the filmmakers’ statements were filled with “intolerable relativization,” because they left out any mention of Hamas.

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