The city of Takoma Park has rescheduled a showing of “The Occupation of the American Mind,” a move that has been condemned by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. The movie will be shown on July 23.
A statement released by the JCRC on Wednesday said the film is “extremely one-sided, relies on blatantly anti-Semitic language and ideas to make its case, and does not accurately portray the many complex, nuanced issues at play in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The screening was originally scheduled for June 13 as part of the city’s We Are Takoma series. But after complaints, including from the JCRC, the city postponed the showing. The decision to show the film this month infuriated the JCRC.
Officials there said it was their impression that the municipality would consider the topic of Israel only after more deliberation and with more input from the Jewish community, and that the film would not be screened at all.
Instead, Takoma Park this week invited a JCRC official to appear on a panel at the screening with officials from two anti-Zionist groups, Jewish Voice for Peace and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Meredith Weisel, the JCRC’s director of Maryland government and community relations, said the agency will not participate in any event where “The Occupation of the American Mind” is shown.
“The bottom line is, if the film is going forward we will not participate at all,” she said.
The film argues that Israeli propaganda controls the American media’s depiction of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The film is narrated by musician Roger Waters, an outspoken critic of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians and vocal proponent of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
Takoma Park spokeswoman Donna Wright said the city postponed the June showing to “create a space for conversation. We didn’t want to censor the film.”
She said the city is reaching out to other Jewish groups that are “in line with the JCRC” to be on the panel.
The discussion will be moderated by Theo Brown, of Public Engagement Associates, Wright said, adding that the city’s website will be updated on the situation as needed.
The city said in a statement: “We understand and have heard from many residents and non-residents about this particular film and the complexities of these issues and deeply held views. Our goal is to create a space for people to listen, critique, discuss, and learn from each other.”
JTA News and Features contributed to this story.