Ken Loach is an internationally-recognised film-maker who recently pressured the Edinburgh Film Festival to refuse money from the Israeli Embassy.
Now, Jewish activists in Australia are trying to make Loach aware of issues closer to home. The following letter was just sent to the Melbourne International Film Festival:
My name is Dr. Ned Curthoys, an academic at the Australian National University and someone with a long running concern for Palestinian human rights. It troubles me greatly that the state of Israel is listed as a sponsor of your event. I hope you’re aware that Israel has maintained an ever expanding 42 year old illegal occupation of Palestinian lands that deprives of Palestinians of basic human rights including freedom of movement, the right to harvest one’s crops, access to education and water, and the right not to have one’s ancestral home demolished because one isn’t Jewish. Operation ‘Cast Lead’ in Gaza has left many thousands of Palestinians homeless, killed hundreds of Palestinian children, and largely destroyed Palestinian civil society in the Gaza strip with schools, hospitals, and universities destroyed or severely damaged.
The quote below is from none other than Ken Loach, director of ‘Looking for Eric’, due to be screened at your festival. He is currently being made aware of Israeli sponsorship of the festival, and based on his stance at the Edinburgh film festival, will seriously consider withdrawing his film from the event. For ethical reasons, in defense of the human and political rights of a dispossessed and maltreated people, the Palestinians, I urge the Melbourne Film Festival to immediately refuse Israeli sponsorship of a film festival that should expand our intelligence and understanding rather than diminish us all.
We remember that the Palestinians have been dispossessed for sixty years, houses destroyed, communities wrecked. Israel ignores international law, the Geneva Convention and many UN resolutions.
We saw with horror the recent massacres in Gaza , how the Israeli army used phosphorous bombs in populated areas, how UN food stores and shelters were destroyed. The Red Cross described strikes on medical crews and the injured denied attention. Israeli journalist, Amira Hass, wrote of the killing of people flying white flags and the annihilation of entire families.
Faced with such crimes, Israeli poet, Aharon Shabtai, writes: “I do not believe that a state that maintains an occupation, committing on a daily basis crimes against civilians, deserves to be invited to any kind of cultural (event).”
I applaud this move and will provide whatever support I can.