Boycott movement can oppose Israeli violence
The 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival organisers announced on Friday they were returning money donated by the Israeli Embassy. The return of the money was accompanied by an admission that it had been “a mistake to accept the £300 from the Israeli Embassy” and followed a torrent of angry letters expressing incomprehension, fury or sadness at the EIFF being associated with the Israeli State. Many pledged to support SPSC pickets of screenings throughout the 2009 Festival, and an initial public protest planned for the following day (yesterday).
Many were shocked at such a public association with the pariah state so soon after the massacres in Gaza, given Israel’s continuing siege and its ongoing ethnic cleansing and illegal settlement in the West Bank. The EIFF was also pressured into returning money to the Israeli Embassy in the wake of the Israeli massacres (during their defeat) in Lebanon in 2006.
Film makers and artists pointed out that the EIFF's claim to separate culture and politics is absurd, where Israel harshly suppresses Palestinian efforts to hold cultural events, most recently in March in Jerusalem and Nazareth. Ken Loach, one of the UK’s most prominent film makers, joined in the effort, and issued a statement through the Scottish PSC:
I’m sure many film makers will be as horrified as I am to learn that the Edinburgh International Film Festival is accepting money from Israel. The massacres and state terrorism in Gaza make this money unacceptable. With regret, I must urge all who might consider visiting the festival to show their support for the Palestinian nation, and stay away.
We welcome the outcome whereby the Festival organisers have returned Israel’s tainted money, thus aligning the Edinburgh International Film Festival with the growing Scottish and world-wide campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the apartheid state. In a short period, anger at Israel’s savagery in Palestine has already led, for example, to
The upwelling of anger at Israel’s crimes and natural sympathy with the Palestinian people, can now be converted everywhere into active solidarity with their struggle for freedom. BDS is the only strategy that allows people around the world to participate as auxiliaries in this struggle, and to reduce and possibly neutralise the shameful support of our Governments for Israel. It won’t happen automatically, but a determined campaign can succeed in mobilising the widespread anger at Israeli racism and violence. Opinion polls everywhere show that Israel's violent ethnic cleansing is being seen for what it is, and that Palestinian resistance, however costly, has not been in vain. Israeli is, clearly and irreversibly, a polecat state, able to kill Palestinians in huge numbers but extremely vulnerable to a world-wide campaign of boycott.
We in Scottish PSC have already chosen our next targets and we have not the slightest doubt that popular opinion will support us. Our opponents know this.
We must keep our eyes on the prize: freedom for the people in Israel’s vast gulag. Our contribution to that will be a mass campaign of BDS.
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Sunday 17th May, 2009