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


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