Lactose intolerant? Canadian film about 18 cows causes indigestion for Israeli Culture Minister

wanted 18

An animated film co-directed by Canadian Paul Cowan and Palestinian artist Amer Shomali with support from Canada’s National Film Board is causing indigestion in Israel. Why? Read more

Israel’s Culture Minister Miri Regev has created a special task force to decide whether a film about 18 cows – yes, cows – violates Israeli law and can justify cutting the budget of the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, where a film festival is taking place.

“The Wanted 18,” the Palestinian candidate for the Oscar in the category of Best Foreign Film, is an animated documentary that tells a true story about peaceful Palestinian resistance to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian Territories. In 1988, the inhabitants of the small West Bank town of Beit Sahour secretly acquired 18 cows so they wouldn’t have to buy milk from Israeli producers. A kind of a spontaneous boycott.Israel sent in the military to find and destroy the cows which it defined as a “threat to Israel’s security”.


Israel’s Minister of Culture has threatened to cut off funding to the host organization.

The film has been shown around the world, including at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).  However, it was to be shown for the first time in Israel at the Nakba film festival this week. The Nakba film festival is sponsored by Zochrot, an Israeli organization that works to raise awareness of the Nakba and promote the right of return. It is celebrating its third year at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.

Israel’s Budget Foundations Law allows the finance minister to fine an institution that receives money from the government if it has funded a work that “encourages incitement, racism or support of an armed struggle against the State of Israel, or presents Independence Day or the day of the state’s establishment as a day of mourning”.

“I would be curious to know if the culture minister has seen the film,” commented film director Paul Cowan from Montreal.  “I think The Wanted 18’s magic is that both sides can watch it and gain some understanding, or at least have a chuckle.”

Unfortunately, NFB has not yet released the film to the public, even though it was shown at TIFF last year. It is not clear why it has been held back. Anyone interested in encouraging NFB to release the film can contact NFB.


  1. This shows how much cowrard they are, without the support of some western counties, Israel can’t survive.

    What’s more funny is that Israel was -many years ago- scared of some KITES, some Palestinian children were flying away.

  2. Israel is even afraid of certain toys: The country seized 4000 “incitement dolls” send from the UAE that resemble rock throwing youths! Would love to have one.

    1. Hey Reual, i have seen pics of those dolls and that is what they look like.

      However, i would warn against romanticizing rock throwing as a means of resistance. It is a dangerous, desperate measure of defiance, but not fun. I think in Canada we need to focus on finding avenues of respectful conversation with others, rarher than demonstrating how militant we are. Best.

  3. The trailer for this film reveals a novel yet insightful take on an early version of non-violent protest against “The Occupation”. Might the delay in release for public viewing be related to growing success of the current BDS campaign? Reaction of the Israeli government to this clever film certainly suggest so. For more background, here is an interview with Canadian co-director Paul Cowan:

    And a few more snippets of the film are viewable here:

    As a long-time fan of NFB productions, I’ve sent a request to NFB administrators, asking for an explanation for their continuing restriction of this film to private rentals only.

    I encourage others to join me in asking NFB to set these cows free, so they can reveal to all of us how they managed to evade the IDF for more than four years!

    Might it be possible to obtain a copy of the film for a public showing by CJPME and/or IJV?

    1. My great appreciation to J.A.Donaldson,
      MY gratitude to J.A.Donaldson, Katie,The Canadian Paul Cowan, and every one else participated in producing the film, or was mentioned in that comment of J.A.Donaldson

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