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Move to ban films with Israel links

Bahrain News
Fri, 11 Mar 2016
Mohammed Al A’Ali


Bahrain: A group of Bahraini MPs are pushing ahead with an attempt to ban all films featuring an Israeli cast, crew or funded with Israeli money.

They also want to ban any publication or video game that has Israeli affiliation, or features any Israeli content.

Four MPs have signed an urgent amendment to the 2002 Publications Law, incorporating the Israel ban, and submitted it to parliament chairman Ahmed Al Mulla yesterday.

It has now been referred to parliament’s services committee for review. 

MP Jamal Dawood, who is spearheading the anti-Zionist policy, said it was Bahrain’s duty to restrict funding to Israel while it occupies Palestinian land and oppresses Palestinian people.

“Even if the money is not going to Israel, watching material with Israeli hands in it undermines the fact that Bahrain is against Israel in all shapes or forms,” he said.

“We are not against Jewish Americans, or any Jews in any state – it (Judaism) is a respected religion.

“But we are against Israelis who are trying to infiltrate our communities.”

The three other MPs backing the amendment are Palestinian Support Committee chairman Mohammed Al Ammadi, Abdulhameed Al Najjar and Dr Isa Turki.

The GDN reported last month that Mr Dawood wanted to ban films starring Israeli actors and actresses, as well as non-Israelis who were known supporters of Israel.

It followed a failed last-minute bid to pull the movie Jane Got A Gun from Bahrain’s cinemas because it featured 34-year-old Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman. 

The attempt to ban the film was unsuccessful because the law states a film can only be banned based on content – not the nationality or opinions of the cast.

However, Mr Dawood said he had consulted with lawyers before coming up with an amendment to the Publications Law, which would also extend to video games, magazines and any other publication.

“For a month we have been sitting with our legal consultants to get amendments to the law,” said Mr Dawood, an ex-publications director at the former Information Ministry.

“We have been told what is right and what is wrong.

“We needed to check that whatever is presented (to parliament) is constitutional, but at the same time doesn’t contradict existing
conventions or treaties that Bahrain has signed.

“Bahrain is a free market, but it can ban particular products that don’t match
its policies.”

The new amendment could have major implications for Bahrain’s cinemas and film fans, as several Hollywood blockbusters have been made by Israelis such as Arnon Milchan – producer of the The Revenant, which won three Oscars last month.

It would also increase the workload of the country’s censors, but Mr Dawood claimed it could be done with minimal effort.

“The names, funding, associates and other details are all mentioned online, whether it is movies, publications or even video games,” he said. 

“The ban will be clear and it will be left to the Information Affairs Authority to determine how it will implement it within three months.”

Study

Parliament’s services committee will first study the amendment before recommending whether MPs should approve it or not.

A vote will then take place in parliament and, if approved by MPs, it will be referred to the Cabinet to be officially drafted as legislation.

The amendment will then be presented to the National Assembly, where it must be approved by MPs and the Shura Council
before it can be ratified by His Majesty King Hamad.

An Israeli Products Boycott Office previously existed in Bahrain to ensure that no Israeli products entered Bahrain, as part of an economic boycott in solidarity with Palestine. 

However, it was closed to ensure Bahrain complied with the terms of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US, which came into effect in 2006. 

mohammed@gdn.com.bh

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