Mike Leigh, Leila Sansour, Pratibha Parmar, Ken Loach and others say UK cinemas should boycott Israeli film festival Seret

In our letter published in the Guardian yesterday and copied below, 20 British filmmakers and writers including Mike Leigh, Leila Sansour, Ken Loach and Prahitbha Parmar criticise the hosting of an Israeli government sponsored film festival in the UK. 

The letter cites the findings of the recent UN report on Israel’s violence against Palestinians in Gaza.  It compares celebrity and business protests against Brunei over its new anti-LGBT law, with those against Israel over its violence against the Palestinians.

 

“We’re shocked and dismayed to see how many mainstream cinemas – among them Picturehouse and Everyman – are hosting this year’s Israeli film festival, Seret, whose funders and supporters include the Israeli government and a clutch of pro-Israel advocacy organisations. Two months ago, a commission set up by the UN human rights council concluded that the actions of Israeli soldiers against Palestinian participants in the Great March of Return in Gaza may constitute “war crimes or crimes against humanity”. “Particularly alarming,” said a member of the commission, was “the targeting of children and persons with disabilities.”

This UN report is the latest in 70 years of reports of mass expulsions, killings, house demolitions, detention without trial, torture, military occupation and military onslaught against the indigenous population, the Palestinians. But none of this appears to disturb the cinemas involved in the festival. One is even housing a fundraising screening for an organisation that sponsors non-Israelis to join the Israeli army.

By comparison, we note the instant resort to boycott by people outraged by Brunei’s legislating to have LGBT people and alleged adulterers stoned to death (Celebrities boycott Brunei-owned hotels over country’s new anti-LGBT laws, 4 April; Sultan of Brunei, who passed anti-LGBT laws, owns slew of luxury UK properties, 15 April). We’re outraged too. But if George Clooney, Elton John and a host of others can instantly embrace a boycott to put pressure on Brunei, what is stopping programmers at Picturehouse and elsewhere doing the same in relation to Israel?

We cannot understand why cultural institutions continue to behave as if Israel is an ordinary democracy. It is not. Palestinians deserve better than this. UK cinemas should not be hosting Seret.”

Amir Amirani Director, producer
Roy Battersby Director
Haim Bresheeth Writer, film-maker
David Calder Actor
Prof Ian Christie Film writer, broadcaster
Dror Dayan Film-maker
Helen de Witt Film programmer
Saeed Taji Farouky Film-maker
Deborah Golt DJ, broadcaster
Ashley Inglis Screenwriter
Paul Laverty Screenwriter
Mike Leigh Writer, director
Ken Loach Director
Sophie Mayer Film critic, curator
Rebecca O’Brien Producer
Pratibha Parmar Writer, director
William Raban Film-maker
Leila Sansour Director
John Smith Artist, film-maker
Penny Woolcock Film-maker

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Shopping announce withdrawal from Pop-Kultur Berlin in solidarity with Palestinians

We are proud to publish to a statement from UK band Shopping, who today announce their withdrawal from Pop-Kultur Berlin festival in protest at its decision to accept support from the Israeli embassy in Germany. Last year, eight artists withdrew in protest for this same reason.

Their statement:
‘We will no longer be performing at Pop-Kultur festival in Berlin this August. After we were recently announced for the festival, we were contacted privately by Palestinian artists and human rights activists about the festival’s cooperation with the state of Israel, and how this serves to normalise and whitewash Israel’s military occupation and decades of oppression against the Palestinian people. We cannot in good conscience be part of that.


As a band, Shopping are and will always be completely opposed to any form of oppression and discrimination, including homophobia, transphobia, colonialism and racism. We stand firmly against antisemitism and Islamophobia. For these reasons, and in harmony with the principles of the nonviolent, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights, we affirm our solidarity with the Palestinian call for BDS.’

The Palestinian appeal to international artists, information, and artists’ statements 2017-18 can be found on a new website, Boycott Pop Kultur Festival.
#popkulturfestival #popkultur2018 #popkulturberlin #popkulturberlin2018
Photo: Jenna Fox

Open letter to Nick Cave: ‘Don’t go – not while apartheid remains.’

October 30th, 2017, London.

Dear Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds,

You are scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on 19th & 20th November. Please don’t go.

In the words of a recent UN report, ‘Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people’.

Continue reading

Mike Leigh slams Radiohead for ignoring Palestinians

Artists for Palestine UK statement
London, July 17

Film writer and director Mike Leigh has criticised Thom Yorke and Radiohead for ignoring Palestinian suffering, two days ahead of their controversial Israel gig.

Last week Radiohead front-man Yorke defended the band’s decision to play in Israel and ignore the Palestinian picket-line, arguing that music was about ‘crossing borders’ and ‘shared humanity’.

Today, Oscar nominated Leigh, who is in production for his forthcoming feature film ‘Peterloo’, issued the following statement via Artists for Palestine UK – Continue reading

AN OPEN LETTER TO RADIOHEAD

London, April 24th  2017

Dear Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O’Brien and Philip Selway,

You’re listed to play Tel Aviv in July this year.

We’d like to ask you to think again – because by playing in Israel you’ll be playing in a state where, UN rapporteurs say, ‘a system of apartheid has been imposed on the Palestinian people’.   

We understand you’ve been approached already by Palestinian campaigners. They’ve asked you to respect their call for a cultural boycott of Israel, and you’ve turned them down.   Since Radiohead campaigns for freedom for the Tibetans, we’re wondering why you’d turn down a request to stand up for another people under foreign occupation. And since Radiohead fronted a gig for the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we’re wondering why you’d ignore a call to stand against the denial of those rights when it comes to the Palestinians. 
Continue reading

I’m One Of 1000 UK Artists Boycotting Israel. Here’s Why

This thoughtful and informative piece by one of the 1,050 signatories to the Artists’  Pledge for Palestine first appeared on The Quietus.

Photo credit: Valerio Berdini

Photo credit: Valerio Berdini

As Thurston Moore, Miss Lauryn Hill and Primus become the latest to cancel shows in Tel Aviv, British-Palestinian musician Samir Eskanda makes the case for the boycott, with contributions from Moore and Jean-Hervé Peron of Faust.

In 2009, a couple of weeks after the end of Israel’s massacres in Gaza, dubbed “Operation: Cast Lead”, I decided to adopt the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel. The three-week assault, which served as the model for last summer’s rampage, was carried out on the pretext of ending erratic rocket fire from the besieged Gaza strip. In reality it represented an escalation of the daily violence committed by Israeli occupation forces against a relatively defenceless civilian population, themselves mostly refugees from previous rounds of aggression. Continue reading