Ken Loach’s film company: We support the cultural boycott of Israel
By: Sharon Lukom
Source: The Guardian
We fully support the aims of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as an expression of the grassroots call in Palestine for solidarity against the Israeli state’s breach of international law (Ken Loach at centre of new storm over Israel boycott, 15 July). Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement, said: “Inspired by the cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa, BDS expects and appeals to conscientious artists to refrain from performing in Israel or participating in events that are sponsored by Israel or by entities that are complicit in Israel’s egregious human rights violations until it meets its obligations under international law.”
We have always respected this appeal and have encouraged other people working in the arts to do the same. We reject the allegation that any of us have exempted ourselves from the cultural boycott. Our film I Daniel Blake was sold to Israel by our sales agent, and is showing there now.
We are in regular contact with the BDS movement and the issue of our films being shown there has never been raised. We will speak to them again now and seek their advice. We will guarantee that every penny from the sale of I Daniel Blake that comes to Sixteen Films or the sales company from the Israeli distributors will go to grassroots Palestinian organisations fighting oppression, after consultation with the BDS movement.
Paul Laverty, Ken Loach, Rebecca O’Brien
• I write regarding the one-sided letter crticising Radiohead for performing in Israel (Radiohead should not perform in Israel, 18 July), which talks about walls and barriers but ignores the fact that these are necessary to protect Israelis (both Jews and Arabs) from terrorist attacks, which have claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people since 2001. Only in the last few days two Israeli policemen (members of the Druze community, not Jews) were murdered by such terrorists.
The Israel-Palestine dispute is a complex and tragic one in which both sides will need to make sacrifices for peace. One-sided boycotts and demonisation will not bring about a peaceful solution. Only dialogue will do that.
Besides, the boycott is effectively a dead letter. Guns N’ Roses performed in Tel Aviv only this week, joining a long line of major western artists to do so. Indeed, given Israel’s tiny population and distance from other major touring venues, it punches well above its weight in the quality and number of artists it attracts, including Ken Loach’s film, despite his anti-Israeli views.