One of the directors of the Israeli Oscar-nominated film Ajami has announced he will not be representing his country at Sunday's award's ceremony.
Scandar Copti is an Israeli-Arab who co-directed the film with a Jewish Israeli partner, Yaron Shani.
Ajami depicts a life of violence, drugs and poverty in a mixed Jewish-Arab neighbourhood in the city of Jaffa.
The film is up against The Milk of Sorrow (Peru), A Prophet (France), The Secret in Their Eyes (Argentina) and The White Ribbon (Germany) for best foreign film.
Copti told Israel's Channel 2 TV on Sunday morning that he cannot represent a country that he feels doesn't represent him.
"I am not Israel's national team and do not represent her," Copti is reported to have said.
"It is an extremely technical thing and that's how it works at the Oscars — it says 'Israel' because that's where the money comes from."
His co-director disagrees.
"It's an Israeli film. It represents Israel, it speaks in the Israeli language and it deals with Israeli problems. The representation question refers to problems of perspectives and political problems which need to be solved," Shani said in the same interview.
Israel's Culture Minister Limor Livnat was quick to respond by pointing out that Copti would never have made it to Hollywood without government funding .
"Without the state's support, Copti would not be walking on the red carpet tonight," she said in a statement.
One of the reasons for Copti's stance may be an incident that occurred last month to his brother Jeras.
Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reports that Jeras was arrested by police in Jaffa. Jeras claims the arresting officers used excessive force, including using pepper spray.
Jeras says he and his brother Tony were trying to stop the police from arresting children who were suspected of hiding drugs. The Copti brothers say the children had been burying their pet dog.
Israel has about 1.5 million Arab citizens, the descendants of Palestinians who remained after the 1948 Middle East war.
While they are defined by the law as fully equal with the Jewish majority, Arab citizens report widespread discrimination.
Israel is putting shame to every achievement in civil rights history.
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In: Arts and Entertainment
Tags: Israel, Apartheid, SouthParkIndie is a Muslim, Oscars, Arab-Israeli
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States (load item map)
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