The AICE (Australia-Israel Cultural Exchange) Israeli Film Festival this year is hosting Brigadier General Gal Hirsch as a special guest, where he will be introducing a documentary about his life as well as appearing at community events and visiting Jewish schools.
AJDS is deeply concerned by this decision to foreground Hirsch, his story and his actions in this way. As has been reported in the Israeli media, after commanding soldiers during the Second Lebanon War, Hirsch was “widely criticized” by the Israeli establishment for his actions which included the failure to prevent the killing of soldiers. More significantly, Hirsch is an arms dealer, having worked as CEO of Defensive Shield, for which he has been investigated for bribing the Georgian government. He has also been a commander on active service during recent attacks by Israel against Gaza (which he has said have ended too quickly), supports segregated roads and has called Breaking the Silence “a disgrace”.
Does our Jewish community really want to be reinforcing the messages that army generals and arms dealers provide? As members of AJDS, as well as members of the broader community, we are interested in voices which foster dialogue and hope. We are interested in hearing from those who are working with Palestinians, collectively ensuring that Israel-Palestine is headed towards a just and peaceful future. We believe these are the voices that our community, including school children, should be listening to.
The messages that we listen to and celebrate in our community are important. We encourage people to avoid events at which Hirsch is speaking, and to work together to ensure that movie-goers, community members, and school children are hearing more positive, hopeful and peace-building stories and ideas in the future.