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Witness Palestine film festival at The Little Theatre has been postponed

The 2023 Witness Palestine Festival hosted at the Little Theatre has been postponed. 

According to a statement released Monday, the decision was made by The Little Theatre in consultation with festival organizers.

The Little Theatre is operated by WXXI. 

The theater has hosted this festival for 12 years, but the statement said that because of safety concerns for festival organizers, The Little patrons and staff, the decision has been made to postpone. 

Thousands have been killed in the war sparked by Hamas' surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7. Tensions over the conflict are being felt globally.

According to the statement: “The Little supports the Jewish and Palestinian communities, both in Rochester and worldwide. We unequivocally condemn violence against any and all civilians.” 

Sponsor Message

Witness Palestine is an event programmed and organized by a third party. According to festival organizers, The Witness Palestine Film Festival is a project of Rochester Witness for Palestine, whose self-described mission is to seek peace "for the people of Palestine wherever they may be."

The Witness Palestine Festival Committee includes community members involved in interfaith and Palestinian solidarity work. 

On Monday, Mark Assini, the Republican candidate for Monroe County executive, held a news conference in front of The Little to ask that the film festival be postponed, claiming that the festival promotes anti-Semitism at a time when Hamas has killed children and mothers and "taken children hostage as human shields."

Witness Palestine was scheduled to take place Oct. 21 and 22 and Oct. 28 and 29.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.