UK cinemas should boycott the Israeli film festival Seret | Letters

While Palestinians suffer at the hands of the Israeli army, British cinemas should not host this event, say 20 film-makers, screenwriters and others

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

Letters

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Seret Israeli film festival welcomes all communities and faiths | Letter
Letter: The co-founders of the festival, Anat Koren, Odelia Haroush and Patty Hochmann, respond to a call for UK cinemas to boycott it

Letters

28, Apr, 2019 @4:40 PM

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

Letters

10, May, 2018 @4:45 PM

Article image
Cinemas should not host London Israeli Film and Television Festival | Letters
Letters: By benefiting from money from the Israeli state, the cinemas become silent accomplices to the violence inflicted on the Palestinian people

Letters

08, Jun, 2015 @6:08 PM

Article image
Israel using culture to mask brutality, say film-makers, journalists and artists | Letters
Letters: Cinema, media and cultural institutions should refuse to provide platforms for national celebrations sponsored by Israel, say signatories including Helena Kennedy, Maxine Peake and Juliet Stevenson

Letters

08, May, 2018 @5:00 PM

Article image
Boycott Eurovision Song Contest hosted by Israel | Letters
Letters: Artists from Europe and beyond support the appeal from Palestinian artists to boycott the contest next year

Letters

07, Sep, 2018 @4:10 PM

Article image
Diversity of responses to Israel boycott movement | Letters
Letters: Readers react to a long read article on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement

Letters

15, Aug, 2018 @4:49 PM

Article image
Ban import of Israeli settlement goods | Letter
Letter: Israeli settlements are the leading cause of human rights violations against Palestinians, and settlement expansion is destroying the possibility of a two-state solution, say signatories including Prof David Harel

Letters

15, Nov, 2019 @5:09 PM

Article image
Why single out Israel for boycott? | Letters
Letters: Coral Ash and Labour peer Jeremy Beecham respond to Brian Eno’s article on Israel and the Eurovision Song Contest

Letters

18, Feb, 2019 @6:43 PM

Article image
Israeli snipers’ letter divides opinion | Letters
Letters: Readers Paul Chartney and Mark Lewinski respond to our letter from former Israeli snipers

Letters

16, Apr, 2018 @5:16 PM

Article image
Talib Kweli’s removal from festival lineup is part of anti-Palestinian censorship trend | Letter
Letter: 103 signatories including Peter Gabriel, Naomi Klein and Boots Riley condemn attempts in Germany to impose political conditions on artists who support Palestinian rights

Letters

02, Jul, 2019 @4:44 PM