Leading artists urge end to Israel’s siege of Gaza amid coronavirus crisis

Philip Pullman, Alia Shawkat, Peter Gabriel and 200* others back Amnesty International’s call for a military embargo on Israel “until it fully complies with its obligations under international law”

Photo: AFP

  • UPDATE: 500+ artists have now signed!


Philip Pullman, Naomi Klein, Peter Gabriel, Alia Shawkat, Vic Mensa and Viggo Mortensen Jr. are among more than two hundred musicians, actors, filmmakers, authors and others calling for an end to Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip amid the coronavirus crisis.

In an open letter published on Wednesday, they write, “Gaza’s almost two million inhabitants, predominantly refugees, face a mortal threat in the world’s largest open-air prison.” 

The first cases of coronavirus in blockaded Gaza were reported in March. Palestinian, Israeli and international humanitarian and human rights organisations have called for the lifting of Israel’s siege so that Gaza can address its severe shortages of medical equipment.

Authors Irvine Welsh and Jeanette Winterson, actors Julie Christie and Steve Coogan, and sculptor Antony Gormley are also signatories to the letter, which states: 

“International pressure is urgently needed to make life in Gaza liveable and dignified. Israel’s siege must be ended. And most urgently, a potentially devastating outbreak must be prevented.”

Marking two years since Israel killed sixty Palestinian protestors in Gaza, the signatories — including Irish novelist Colm Tóibín, visual artists Mark Wallinger, Kevin Beasley, Shepard Fairey, and 2019 Turner Prize co-winners Tai Shani and Lawrence Abu Hamdan — continue: 

“What happens in Gaza is a test for the conscience of humanity. We back Amnesty International’s call on all world governments to impose a military embargo on Israel until it fully complies with its obligations under international law.”

Film producer and director James Schamus, actors Stephen Rea, Peter Mullan and Liam Cunningham and artists Charlotte Prodger and Helen Marten join pioneering poet K. Satchidanandan, novelist and screenwriter Candace Allen, composer and producer Brian Eno and musicians Roger Waters and Massive Attack in signing the letter, which concludes:

“We recognise that the rights guaranteed to refugees by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be upheld for Palestinians as well. 

In these times of international crisis, we must stand for justice, peace, freedom, and equal rights for all, regardless of identity or creed. We may be staying at home, but our ethical responsibility shouldn’t.”

Read the full letter:

Long before the global outbreak of COVID-19 threatened to overwhelm the already devastated healthcare system in Gaza, the UN had predicted that the blockaded coastal strip would be unliveable by 2020. With the pandemic, Gaza’s almost two million inhabitants, predominantly refugees, face a mortal threat in the world’s largest open-air prison.

Two years ago on May 14th, Israeli snipers killed sixty Palestinian men, women and children in Gaza, with total impunity. The overwhelmingly peaceful Great March of Return weekly mass demonstrations, currently on hold due to the threat of coronavirus, were met with brutal violence. 

Well before the ongoing crisis, Gaza’s hospitals were already stretched to breaking point through lack of essential resources denied by Israel’s siege. Its healthcare system could not cope with the thousands of gunshot wounds, leading to many amputations. 

Reports of the first cases of coronavirus in densely-populated Gaza are therefore deeply disturbing. As several health professionals recently wrote: “Epidemics (and indeed, pandemics) are disproportionately violent to populations burdened by poverty, military occupation, discrimination & institutionalised oppression.”

Yet Israel’s blockade impedes the flow of medical equipment, personnel and fundamental humanitarian aid. International pressure is urgently needed to make life in Gaza liveable and dignified. Israel’s siege must be ended. And most urgently, a potentially devastating outbreak must be prevented.  

What happens in Gaza is a test for the conscience of humanity. We back Amnesty International’s call on all world governments to impose a military embargo on Israel until it fully complies with its obligations under international law. We recognise that the rights guaranteed to refugees by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be upheld for Palestinians as well.

In these times of international crisis, we must stand for justice, peace, freedom, and equal rights for all, regardless of identity or creed. We may be staying at home, but our ethical responsibility shouldn’t.

Signed,

Lawrence Abu Hamdan, artist

Taha Adnan, poet

Giannis Aggelakas, singer, songwriter, poet

Mania Akbari, film director

Fatiha al Ghorri, comedian

Pau Alabajos, singer, songwriter

Senad Alic, visual artist

Simon Allemeersch, theatre maker

Candace Allen, author

Udi Aloni, filmmaker

Rafael Alvarez, choreographer, dancer

Miren Amuriza, writer, versolari

Lisa Appignanesi, writer

Ariane Ascaride, actor

Austra, solo artist

Ariella Azoulay, writer, filmmaker

Kobe Baeyens, classical singer

Balkan Bomba, band

Sibaji Bandyopadhyay, author, performer

Kevin Barry, writer

Kevin Beasley, artist

Patrick Bebi, theatre maker, actor, teacher

Nacera Belaza, choreographer

Yacine Belhacene, singer

Bella Cuts, DJ, producer

Ronan Bennett, screenwriter

Rimli Bhattacharya, writer, academic

Akeel Bilgrami, philosopher

Mary Black, singer

Bruno Boussagol, theatre director

Tove Bøygard, singer, composer, writer

Howard Brenton, playwright

Adam Broomberg, artist

Pankaj Butalia, filmmaker

Teresa Cabral, painter

Burt Caesar, actor, film director

Paulo Caetano, author, photographer

Carmen Callil, publisher, writer, critic

Dayana Cata, writer, artist

Oliver Chanarin, artist

Pascal Chardome, musician, composer

Sheba Chhachhi, photographer

Régine Chopinot, choreographer

Julie Christie, actor

Chullage, rapper

Ciel, DJ, producer

Luís Cília, musician, singer

Céline Condorelli, artist

Steve Coogan, comedian, actor

Molly Crabapple, writer

Crisis de los 40, band

Darren Cullen, artist

Liam Cunningham, actor

Sinéad Cusack, actor

Bruna Cusí, actor

Alain Damasio, writer

Jesse Darling, artist

Eva De Roovere, singer-songwriter

Foivos Delivorias, singer, songwriter

Rokhaya Diallo, writer, filmmaker

Doctor Prats, band

Mark Donne, filmmaker

Geoff Dyer, writer

Galit Eilat, curator, writer

Radhouane El Medebb, choreographer

Fons Elders, writer

Brian Eno, musican

Anne Enright, writer

Annie Ernaux, writer

Charles Esche, museum director, professor

Marcelo Evelin, choreographer

Tristan Faes, classical singer

Shepard Fairey, artist

David Farr, screenwriter

Isabel Fazenda, writer

Mark Fell, electronic musician

Simon Fisher Turner, composer, producer, actor

Annar Follestø, violinist, artistic director

Cesk Freixas, singer, songwriter

Peter Gabriel, musician, music festival founder

Dimitra Galani, singer, composer

Rashna Gandhy, author, psychologist

Sylvain George, filmmaker

Katia Gerou, actor, writer

Gigakoops, electronic musician

Jordi Ginesta, singer

Thea Glenton Raknes, musician

Sérgio Godinho, musician, singer

Priyamvada Gopal, writer, scholar

Antony Gormley, artist

Gossos, band

Øyvind Grande, composer

Andre Gregory, actor, theatre director

Ohal Grietzer, composer, mixed-media performer

Trevor Griffiths, playwright

Probir Gupta, artist

Gwenno, musician, songwriter

Ella Maria Hætta Isaksen, artist, singer

Maysaloun Hamoud, film director

Nir Harel, artist

Githa Hariharan, writer

Tobi Haslett, writer, art critic

Justin Hayward-Young, musician

Charles Hayward, musician

Tzion Abraham Hazan, artist

Kristien Hemmerechts, writer

Dalilla Hermans, writer, columnist

Claire Hilger, visual artist, graphic designer

Hiro Kone, DJ, producer

Martin Horntveth, musician, composer, artist

Gemma Hummet, singer

Asad Hussain, writer, film editor

Emmanuelle Huynh, dancer

Trond Ingebretsen, musician, singer

Marc Isaacs, documentary filmmaker

Vanessa Jackson, artist

Julie Jaroszewski, singer, filmmaker, actress

Terry Johnson, playwright, director

Filip Jordens, singer, actor

Em Joseph, artist

Embla Karidotter, musician

Ioanna Karystianni, writer

Kyriakos Katzourakis, artist, film director

Patrick Keiller, artist, filmmaker

A.L. Kennedy, author

Chris Keulemans, writer

Naomi Klein, writer

La Kruel band

Lágrimas de Sangre, band

Lankum, band

Mike Leigh, screenwriter, director

Leo Leonhardsen, musician

Faustin Linyekula, choreographer

Lluís Llach, singer, songwriter

Ken Loach, film director

Jen Long, artist manager, DJ

Josie Long, comedian

Los Castos, band

Los Chikos del Maíz, rap group

Dónal Lunny, musician

Nightmare Lyre, musician

Mammút, band

Esther Manito, comedian

Kika Markham, actor

Yann Martel, author

Helen Marten, artist

Emer Martin, writer

Raoul Martinez, artist, writer

Marwan, singer, songwriter, poet

Massive Attack, band

Tom McCarthy, author

Vic Mensa, rap artist

Marc Mercier, artistic director

China Miéville, author

Luc Mishalle, musician

Thurston Moore, musician

Christy Moore, singer

Gérard Mordillat, filmmaker

Viggo Mortensen Jr., actor, musician, author

Junior Mthombeni, theater director, actor, musician

Peter Mullan, actor, director

Rita Natálio, artist, researcher

Nel Tardiu, band

Jef Neve, pianist, composer

Courttia Newland, author

Bernard Noël, writer

Object Blue, DJ

Joff Oddie, musician

Joan Miquel Oliver, singer, songwriter

Ragnar Olsen, singer

Susie Orbach, psychoanalyst, writer

Jørn Simen Øverli, singer, artist

Ruth Padel, poet

Carmen París, singer, songwriter

Melissa Parmenter, composer, film producer, pianist

Anand Patwardhan, documentary filmmaker

Maxine Peake, actor

Eddie Peake, artist

Mireille Perrier, actor

Dimitris Piatas, actor, writer

Ernest Pignon-Ernest, artist

Marijke Pinoy, actress

Alain Platel, choreographer

Jocelyn Pook, composer

Patrícia Portela, writer, playwright

Aaron Porter, solo artist

Charlotte Prodger, artist

Philip Pullman, author

Pupil·les, band

Michael Radford, film director

Roland Ramade, singer

RAVI, artist, composer

Stephen Rea, actor

Ian Rickson, theatre director

Tiago Rodrigues, national theatre director, playwright

Luz Room for Resistance, DJ

Rrose, musician

Liv Runesdatter, singer, composer

Pilar Salamanca, writer

Xavi Sarrià, musician

K. Satchidanandan, writer

Aura Satz, artist

James Schamus, director, producer

Noémie Schellens, classical singer, actress

Gaea Schoeters, writer, journalist, scenarist

Mim Shaikh, broadcaster, writer, actor

Tai Shani, artist

Alia Shawkat, actor, artist

Sindicat de Músics Activistes de Catalunya – SMAC musicians’ union

Robyn Slovo, film producer

John Smith, artist filmmaker

Smoking souls, band

Patrick Staff, artist

Stay at Homas, band

Janneke Stegeman, theologian, writer

DAAN Stuyven, singer-songwriter, composer

Vivan Sundaram, artist

BV Suresh, artist

Nick J. Swarth, poet, performer, musician, visual artist

Guy Swinnen, singer

Jakob Thonander Glans, composer, musician, conductor

Colm Tóibín, author

Sílvia Tomàs, singer, songwriter

Ricky Tomlinson, actor

Tudanca, band

Dirk Tuypens, actor

Merlijn Twaalfhoven, composer

Txarango, band

Adil Tyabji, editor

V (formerly Eve Ensler), playwright, activist

Myriam Van Imschoot, performance, theatre, music

Michiel Vandevelde, choreographer

Judith Vanistendael, graphic novelist

David Verdaguer, actor

Violet, DJ, producer

Erik Vlaminck, author

Pantelis Voulgaris, film director

Naomi Wallace, playwright

Mark Wallinger, artist

Harriet Walter, actor

Roger Waters, musician

Einat Weizman, director, writer, actor

Irvine Welsh, author

Michael Wiehe, singer, musician

Unni Wilhelmsen, musician, composer, writer

Jeanette Winterson, writer

Bent Wold, singer

XY, band

Luke Younger, experimental musician

Zoo, band

Threats to anti-racism charity lead to Ken Loach stepping down as competition judge

  • Show Racism the Red Card commends Loach’s ‘commitment to fighting racism’
  • Charity’s funding put at risk by unfounded allegations

Show Racism the Red Card and Ken Loach – a statement from Ken Loach’s supporters – first published at the website of Sixteen Films

Film director Ken Loach has withdrawn as a judge in the 2020 School Competition run by respected anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC).

The charity announced on February 4 that Ken Loach and author and former children’s laureate Michael Rosen were to judge this year’s competition, which involves thousands of schoolchildren in hundreds of schools producing poetry, drama, films and other forms of creative work on combating racism. Loach, Rosen and SRtRC were then subjected to an aggressive and abusive campaign both on-line and in print media, making baseless accusations of antisemitism against Ken Loach in particular.

In response to these allegations actor and comedian Steve Coogan said: “His entire career has been to shine a light on the plight of the dispossessed and the disenfranchised. His films have given a voice to the voiceless.….Ken Loach’s legacy will remain long after his critics have gone.”

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Anti-racism charity confirms Ken Loach as judge for its School Competition

For immediate release

  • Show Racism the Red Card has resisted pressure to ditch campaigning film-maker Ken Loach as a judge for its annual School Competition.
  • Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Mark Rylance, Miriam Margolyes OBE, Dame Marina Warner, Baroness Blackstone, Steve Coogan and many other leading figures have backed Loach.
  • Eric Cantona: Everybody knows Ken Loach is a warrior against injustice. Show Racism the Red Card is right to work with him.
  • Fellow filmmaker Mike Leigh: ‘The charity has unquestionably made the right moral decision.’ 
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