July 27, 2011
Israeli Supreme Court defends Jenin film
Israel’s top court rejected a last-ditch bid by veterans of the Jenin offensive to sue a film that they say slanders the military.
A three-justice Supreme Court panel on Wednesday upheld a lower court’s decision, saying the plaintiffs could not satisfy the requirements of a libel suit, as they had not been personally identified in the film.
Five former soldiers who fought in the West Bank city in 2002 had tried to sue Mohammed Bakri, an Israeli-Arab actor and director, over his documentary “Jenin Jenin,” arguing that it falsely portrayed Palestinians being massacred and tortured.
“The film is indeed full and stuffed with things that are not true,” said Justice Miriam Naor. And Justice Yitzhak Amit, a fellow panel member, voiced “discomfort” with the ruling but appeared to side with artistic freedom.
“In a country as polarized and sectarian as Israel, the limits of the law must be preserved,” Amit said. “Mohammed Bakri and his crew enter the Jenin refugee camp at the end of April 2002, and filmed the reactions of the Jenin residents to events that had occurred, with the objective of giving voice to the Palestinian side.”
The Petach Tikvah District Court had thrown out the damages claim by the soldiers, prompting them to appeal to the Supreme Court.