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Ken Loach: Income from films screened in Israel will fund BDS

Image of British film maker Ken Loach [Georges Biard/Wikipedia]
British film maker Ken Loach [Georges Biard/Wikipedia]

Ken Loach, British director and supporter of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, has guaranteed that income from the screening of his movies in Israel will go towards funding BDS and “grassroots Palestinian organisations fighting oppression”.

Loach was responding to accusations of hypocrisy in a letter to the Guardian after it was discovered that his movies were being screened in Israel by Israeli distributor, Shani.

Last week Shani revealed to the Guardian that it had paid Loach and his producer’s money “every year” since 1993 for distributing his movies.  Loach was accused of “exempting himself from cultural boycott of Israel”.

Loach dismissed this allegation in a letter today: “We reject the allegation that any of us have exempted ourselves from the cultural boycott. Our film I Daniel Blake was sold to Israel by our sales agent, and is showing there now.”

Loach has been one of the most prominent supporters of the BDS campaign. Earlier this month he urged Radiohead, a British pop group who has agreed to play at a concert in Israel, to join the cultural boycott.

Read: Palestinians, Roger Waters and Ken Loach respond to Radiohead

After criticising Radiohead for their “stubborn refusal to engage”, Loach said:

Whether in apartheid South Africa in the past or apartheid Israel in the present, when an oppressed community asks renowned international artists not to lend their names to their oppressors’ attempts to whitewash their human rights violations, it is our moral obligation to heed their appeals. It should be about them and their human rights, not about us and our sense of pride.

The revelation prompted accusations of hypocrisy. Radiohead front men, who criticised Loach over the director’s strong condemnation of their decision to play at a concert in Israel tweeted his surprise.

 

However, Loach’s producer O’Brien also dismissed the assertion that Loach exempts himself from boycotting Israel, telling the Guardian  that they had “no influence” in its distribution. O’Brien also mentioned his shock after realising that in retrospect that Loach’s films were being distributed in Israel saying: “Oh God, the film has been sold to Israel, that’s really bad.”

O’Brien spoke of being “pissed off” over the films distribution in Israel but acknowledged that “once you’ve sold it you can’t backtrack”.

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