The Israeli embassy in France is boycotting the Israeli Film Festival in Paris over the screening of "Foxtrot", an Israeli drama that depicts the Israeli army covering up the deaths of Palestinian teenagers.
"The festival's management, due to its own considerations, chose not to accept the recommendation. Therefore, the foreign ministry ordered the ambassador not to be present at the opening ceremony," the Israeli foreign ministry said earlier this week.
The film has already won awards and was shortlisted for an Oscar nomination for best foreign film, which then went to a Lebanese film. Foxtrot has a 100 percent critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, the popular movie review website.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, the non-violent pro-Palestinian group that calls for economic actions to end the Israeli occupation, celebrated the move by the Israeli government.
"Boycott the Israeli film festival in Paris? Israel's doing it,” EuroPalestine, a France-based group that supports the BDS movement, wrote in a press release following the decision. The BDS has previously called for boycotting the festival because it receives funding from the Israeli government.
Others mocked the Israeli government over the controversial move to attack a festival promoting Israel itself. Charles Enderlin, a prominent French journalist who has covered Israel for years, tweeted: "There's no need for BDS, Israel's culture minister Miri Regev is not bad at boycotting."
Miri Regev, Israel's cultural minister, attacked the film and the festival saying saying Foxtrot was "boosting BDS and Israel's enemies" and showed "Israeli army soldiers in a deceptive manner as murderers and harms the good name of the Israel Defence Forces."
While Israel has already released the planned donation for this year's round of the festival, Regev said she will work to stop such funding in the future.
The film’s director Samuel Maoz said he was glad the movie is receiving attention off-screen, however, he still lamented the Israeli government’s inability to embrace diversity in art and cinema.
"Every humanistic society should strive to be better, to improve itself," Maoz told Variety commenting on the controversy. "And the basic and necessary condition for improvement is the ability to accept self-criticism."
The movie does touch a nerve for the Israeli government as it reflects a reality that is being increasingly exposed.
The controversy comes as Palestinian Prisoners’ Club warned Sunday that 60 percent of Palestinian children arrested by Israeli forces were verbally, physically or psychologically tortured.
More than 350 children are held in Israeli prisons and while many of them are detained without charges, but those who face trials are tried in military courts where conviction rate is at 99 percent.
Many of those arrested and tried face charges over protesting and stone throwing. The most recent high-profile Palestinian child case is that of Ahed Tamimi who is facing 12 charges and up to 10 years in prison over slapping an Israeli soldier.
Also at least four Palestinian teens have been killed, and dozens injured, by Israeli occupation forces this year alone during clashes and protests following the controversial decision by U.S. President Donald Trump in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, breaking with long-standing international accords.