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Court rules in favour of film highlighting plight of Palestinians

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After nine years, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has claimed victory after the Western Cape High Court ordered the Labia Theatre to screen the film The Roadmap To Apartheid within 60 days.

“The whole saga started in 2012, when we tried to book the labia theatre for a screening of said film and that was in preparation for Israeli apartheid week. Which is a particular week set out to highlight and expose the atrocities being perpetrated by the Israeli Apartheid regime,” explained Chairperson of the PSC, Martin Jansen.

The ruling, which has been hailed by the PSC as a victory for human rights and free speech, follows a battle between the PSC and the Labia Theatre to screen the documentary, which compares the circumstances of Palestinians living in the occupied territories to the plight of black South Africans during apartheid, and highlights the oppression of Palestinians in Israel.

Western Cape Judge Andre Le Grange ruled that the Labia had not wanted to screen the film “The Roadmap to Apartheid”, because of its “differences” with the consciences and beliefs of the members of the PSC.

He said while the Labia had rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and freedom of expression, it was now well-established in law that private persons can attract a duty to make contractual offers where a refusal to do so would be unfairly discriminatory.

“This ruling is extremely significant because there has been similar kinds of discrimination over the years which has been mentioned in the judgement. It is important to reinforce what has been laid out in our constitution,” stated Jansen.

The South African Human Rights Commission also got involved but said it was an issue of contract and should be decided by a court.

Judge Le Grange said the Labia occupies a unique place in the cultural and political life of Cape Town and had, in the past, often screened critically acclaimed films which were commercially unattractive to mainstream cinema chains, because these films were too controversial or even banned. The Labia had also screened films that addressed themes on which there were strong differing opinions in society.

The Labia has also been part of the film festival “Daring Doccies Documentary Film Festival”.

Judge Le Grange said that the Labia had not only refused to screen the film twice but had made statements to the media attacking it which demonstrated the “underlying nature of the discrimination”.

Apart from screening the film within 60 days, irrespective of whether or not the Zionist Federation accepted an invitation to attend, the Labia was ordered to pay court costs. The judge also ordered that the PSC pay the associated rental fees.

The Labia has yet to respond to the judgement.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the judgement is appealed by the Labia but until then we will take the initiative and send them a date for screening and we will await their response,” ended Jansen.

VOC


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