In defence of the London Israeli Film & Television Festival | Letters

The co-founders of Seret say those calling for a boycott of their festival are hampering freedom of expression. And, in another letter, Ya’ir Klein, says the films on offer often show a cauldron more than a melting pot

We, the co-founders of Seret, are saddened to read the letter (Israel using culture to mask brutality, 9 May) calling for a boycott of the London Israeli Film & Television Festival. Prominent film-makers, artists and journalists have again chosen to use our festival as a chance to promote their perspective on Israeli politics. Seret is completely free from any political influence, and has supported film-makers from every community in Israel, showcasing the rich tapestry of our nation’s different cultures and groups. Yet those advocating a boycott of Seret are purposefully putting pressure on Arab-Israeli film-makers to withdraw their permission for screenings during the festival.

The festival has many supporters and sponsors, including the Israeli Film Fund, the Gesher Fund, Yachad, New Israel Fund, and the Israeli embassy in the UK. Naturally, every national embassy would seek to promote the culture of their home country, and Israel is no different. Freedom of expression is a core British value, and this attempt to block creative artistic collaboration must be dismissed.
Anat Koren, Odelia Haroush and Patty Hochmann
Seret International, London

• While Seret does depict a largely ethnocentric picture of Israel and its history, it has a few protagonists from minorities on screen, including Palestinians, showing how it is for the “others”. Not least one film, Foreign Land, an Arabic and Hebrew documentary depicting the alienation of an Arab actor and a Jewish journalist, neither of whom can find a place where they can belong in a country from which there is no escape, which the Israeli government tried to ban – unsuccessfully. Many Jews in Israel and abroad strongly resist the trend towards colonisation and attempt to rectify the imbalance, and cruel blindness of the dominant cultural narrative there. The films on offer often show a cauldron more than a melting pot.
Ya’ir Klein
London

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