Wednesday, June 10, 2009


One thing about the decades long Israeli/Palestinian conflict that irritates me is when people think they've figured it out enough where they can stand solely with one side or the other in complete sympathy.

... and then they get cantankerous about it:

“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.”

English filmmaker Ken Loach said the above about the Edinburgh International Film Festival, who had received the equivalent of 300 pounds from the Israeli government for travel expenses on behalf of Israeli filmmaker Tali Shalom-Ezer. Her film, Surrogate, is to premier there. The EIFF has since given back the money.

First off, when Loach says "massacres and state terrorism in Gaza" I had to wonder if maybe he was referring to the self-imposed killings and oppression put upon the Gazans by Hamas. But, no, we know what he meant. And he can mean whatever he would like to, but why punish a single filmmaker for fierce disagreement you may have with her government???

As Shalom-Ezer points out:

"A lot of people didn’t support Britain being part of the war in Iraq — does that mean British art should be subjected to a cultural boycott?”

Exactly. If we want to go down the road of boycotting the art of private citizens because of the sins of their state government, then every film circulating around the world right now would be at risk.

She continues:

“For me, I make films as art and my art does not deal with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Now I feel I am in a strange position because I am answering questions that are related to politics as if I am a representative of the Israeli state and I don’t want to be that.”

For more on this story, click here.


Eric said...

Yeah, I don't see how someone can take a definitive side on the issue. In order for peace to become a reality, both sides must admit wrongdoing, make concessions, forget about who started or who's been wronged worse, and STOP FREAKING KILLING EACH OTHER!

bill r. said...

Ken Loach is a self-righteous socialist asshole. That's what this all boils down to.

Greg said...

I must admit, after years of active terrorism on the part of the Palestinians, especially under that bastard Arafat, and active overkill on the part of the Israeli military I find it difficult to direct my sympathy anywhere except to the citizens of both who do all the suffering. That said I find Loach's statement even more stunningly naive than I thought possible. He may be a good filmmaker (with at least one great film to his credit, Kes, which is damn near perfect) but like so many in the arts is quite daft when it comes to world affairs.

I disagree with Bill that it is because he is a self-righteous socialist asshole. He may be self-righteous and an asshole to be sure but I think the main problem is he's just stupid, ignorant and uninformed. And given the ease with which one can now access information, being uninformed in these days is a willful act and thus, all the more unforgivable.

bill r. said...

Greg - That may be true, but I stand by my statement, because Loach drives me crazy.

Fox said...


Sadly, I don't think that will ever happen. I bet a lot of the younger generations don't even know what they are fighting over anymore.

Fox said...

And given the ease with which one can now access information, being uninformed in these days is a willful act and thus, all the more unforgivable....


Especially when you are a celebrity voice who is taking a vocal stance against something.

I mean, if Loach had taken the time to learn about the filmmaker, or at least listen to her, he would have found at that he may have agreed with her on certain issues (she protested against settlements as a teen). Instead, he has a knee-jerk reaction based on his seeming dislike of anything Israeli.


I don't know enough of Loach's work to comment on it (I've only seen Sweet Sixtenn, and I liked it), but he's been a crabby, nasty man in the press in his older years.

"I can't think of a good reason to go to the States to make a film. It's the most difficult place to work – just a very aggressive, unsmiling country, whereas you go to Nicaragua to make a film and the people might not have a pot to piss in, but they are a joy and they make you welcome."...

Seems like another opinion based on being uninformed and consumed by your emotions.

Greg said...

Fox that's pretty much it: a dislike for anything Israeli. It's never tempered with how many times acts of terrorism have been committed against them.

just a very aggressive, unsmiling country.

Yeah, Ken, that's almost exactly the America I know. [shakes head, rolls eyes]

bill r. said...

I'm not basing my opinion of Loach on his films, some of which I've liked, as well (I loved Riff Raff when I saw it in college), but on the kind of quotes you're providing, Fox. And he wonders why Americans don't smile at him.

Rick Olson said...

To me, it just seems silly. 300 pounds travel expenses ... give me a break.

I don't think Loach is a socialist asshole (what is socialistic about supporting a bunch of fascistic religious zealots like the Palestinians?) or even stunningly naive. He probably is just hooked on self-aggrandizement.

What seems more stupid is that EIFF has given it back. They should have told Loach "Ok, Ken, you've had your press conference. Now go play with yourself somewhere else."

bill r. said...

Rick, I called Loach a socialist because he is, by his own admission.

Fox said...


Yeah - as Bill beat me to it - Loach is pretty vocal about his socialist beliefs.

Also, I think "fascistic religious zealots" fits Hamas to a tee, but not Palestinians as a whole. But maybe that's not what you meant and it just sounded that way.

Rick Olson said...

Oh, my bad. I just didn't see the connection between what he said and socialism.

Of course I meant the extremist groups within Palestine. I've known and broken bread with several Palestinians over the years.

What I get for posting in a hurry.

Damon said...

Little doubt, the dude is totally just.
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