Thank you Mike Leigh and Ken Loach

Thank you Mike Leigh and Ken Loach
3 min read
16 Jun, 2015
Blog: The call to boycott Israel has not been widely heard in the Arab world, but European film directors are making sure it is not forgotten.
Ken Loach (pictured) and Mike Leigh stood against the Israeli festival [Anadolu]
The boycott movement against South Africa went some distance to ending the racist apartheid system.

What of the similar boycott against Israel? Arabs appear to have forgotten about it, for many reasons, and especially due to peace agreements Egypt and Jordan signed with Israel. They have also been distracted by events since the start of the "Arab Spring".

     Who remembers the boycott nowadays? Not us, but the Europeans.
Who remembers the boycott nowadays? Not us, but the Europeans.

The torch of the boycott was transferred from Arab hands to the conscious social and cultural forces in European societies, and we had very little to do with this transfer.

If anyone had a hand in the boycott of Israeli academia, it would be the Palestinian and Arab students who have struggled individually and as part of small collectives in the UK, the lion's den that sponsored the establishment of Israel. These students carried the burden that Arab regimes could not or did not want to carry.

The British academic boycott, which is the most prominent boycott movement, has almost declared war between the British education system and its Israeli counterpart on purely moral and humanitarian grounds.

Further, it is not new for British artists, journalists and literary figures to refuse to visit Israel or take part in activities supported by the Israeli state to confront Israeli propaganda that uses art as its tool.

Recent events surrounding the Israeli film festival in London are a good example of the achievements of the British cultural boycott of activities sponsored by Israeli state.

Forty British cultural figures called for the boycott of the film festival organised by the Israeli embassy in London.

The boycott call forced Curzon Cinemas, which screened the festival's films, to issue a statement that said: "We have not previously considered asking questions about the funding of a festival booked at one of our cinemas, and we do not consider booking a festival as any kind of political comment."

Who was it that stood firmly stood against an Israeli film festival in London? They were some of Britain's most notable directors and artists, and included cinematic heavyweights Mike Leigh and Ken Loach.

The artists wrote a letter that said the the Israeli state was promoting the festival and supporting it financially.

They argued that, by hosting it, the cinemas were "ignoring the 2004 call by Palestinian civil society for sanctions against Israel until Israel abides by international law and ends its illegal displacement of Palestinians, discrimination against them, and occupation of their land".

It is as if the Palestinian boycott and sanctions call was a UN Security Council resolution.

Thank you, Mike Leigh and Ken Loach.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.