Google+ Followers

Monday, 18 October 2010

Mike Leigh cancels Israel visit over loyalty oath bill

It raises an interesting question. What is better? To boycott Israel from the beginning or agree to go and then pull out? In the case of award-winning film director Mike Leigh, who was one of the founding signatories of Independent Jewish Voices, pulling out has certainly garnered more publicity against the hateful McCarthyite Loyalty Oaths of Israel’s Far Right Government.

As Israel swings further to the Rightso Israel's more liberal Jewish supporters peel off. As the Zionist press, like the appalling Jewish Chronicle, edited by ex-Express editor Steve Pollard, tries to ignore all Israel’s unsavoury actions (Pollard assumes his readers are as stupid as him – when he refused to carry a story on Emily Henchowitz it was broadcast in far greater soon after by the mainstream press after the Israeli government refused to pay for Emily’s medical bills. it leaves the field clear for those who are committed to exposing Israel's increasingly racist and repressive state.

Loyalty oaths have a particular resonance for those interested in freedom of speech but the Israeli Government, being made up of particularly stupid men like Barak and Netanyahu, isn't able to get it.

Tony Greenstein

Director pulls out of Jerusalem teaching trip in protest against Israel's proposed loyalty oath for new citizens, saying the controversial policy was 'the last straw'

Monday 18 October 2010

Bafta-winning film-maker Mike Leigh has pulled out of a teaching trip to Israel due to his concern over the country's proposed loyalty oath bill.

Leigh said he was not prepared to take part in the "great masters" programme at the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem. In a letter to school director Renen Schorr, he cited several of Israel's policies, including the oath, which would require non-Jews seeking Israeli citizenship to pledge allegiance to Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state".

"As you know, I have always had serious misgivings about coming, but I allowed myself to be persuaded by your sincerity and your commitment," Leigh wrote. "And it is because of those special qualities of yours that I am especially sorry to have to let you down. But I have absolutely no choice. I cannot come, I do not want to come, and I am not coming.

"Eight weeks after our lunch, the Israeli attack on the flotilla took place. As I watched the world very properly condemn this atrocity, I almost cancelled. I now wish I had, and blame my cowardice for not having done so.

"Since then, your government has gone from bad to worse. I need not itemise all that has taken place ... I still had not faced up to the prospect of pulling out until a few weeks ago, but the resumption of the illegal building on the West Bank made me start to consider it seriously. And now we have the Loyalty Oath.

"This is the last straw – quite apart from the ongoing criminal blockade of Gaza, not to mention the endless shooting of innocent people there, including juveniles ..."

Schorr responded with his own letter, in which he cited Sam Spiegel's record of working with Palestinian film-makers and said the school should not be punished for the actions of the Israeli government.

"We agreed to convene a press conference where you had an open platform to express your sharp objections to Israeli policy, should you have desired," he said. "The reverberation of the words you spoke here – from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jenin – would have been heard so much differently.

"Here, too, you were presented with the genuine opportunity to speak to hearts and minds, and have a direct influence upon public awareness and opinion. To touch the future. To try to change the realities. Yet now you have chosen to stay distant."

A number of film-makers and actors have chosen to boycott Israel film festivals and other events in recent years over the country's political actions. In July it was reported that Meg Ryan and Dustin Hoffman had pulled out of the Jerusalem film festival due to their concern over the country's attack on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla that left nine dead earlier this year.

See also

Director Mike Leigh cancels Israel trip - British filmmaker upset over loyalty oath bill

Mike Leigh cancels Israel trip in protest

British filmmaker Mike Leigh has cancelled a visit to Israel to protest against a proposed loyalty oath for new citizens.

17 Oct 2010

The bill, passed by Israel's Cabinet last week, would require non-Jewish immigrants to pledge loyalty to a "Jewish and democratic" state – language widely seen as discriminatory toward Israel's Arab minority.

Leigh, the award-winning director of "Naked" and "Secrets & Lies," was to participate in a film festival next month. He is Jewish.

Writing to the school sponsoring the event, Leigh said he opposed Israel's policies on Gaza, but called the loyalty oath the "last straw."

The school's director, Renen Schorr, says Israeli artists face growing international isolation because of Israel's political situation.


Anonymous said...

I always liked Mike Leigh - my sisters and I can quote chunks of his films - without giving a toss one way or the other about his politics or his religion.

It is sad but rather amusing that Zionists now feel compelled to attack Leigh's artistic work because he has made a stand on a point of principle.

I used to think that Harrys Place was "merely" islamophobic. But they reserve their greatest venom for Jews with a conscience.

Deborah Fink said...

Great stuff! We need more well known artists, especially Jewish ones, doing this.

I had intended to write to Mike myself so I was relieved that he'd already decided to pull out (I'd have felt guilty otherwise).

He's in JfJfP- I recruited him.

jock mctrousers said...

The LAST straw? Reminds me of Lonesome Dove (cowboy story, book and tv series), when the rangers catch an old friend of theirs in the company of a bunch of horse-thieves who have committed a bunch of grizzly murders. When he says that he was waiting his opportunity to slip away from them, they say (obviously) " you took your time about it". They hang him.

I know Mike Leigh is supposed to be some sort of genius, portrayer of real, proletarian life, but I just find him amateurish, banal and frankly clueless and patronising about proletarian life.

Brenda Landes said...

To Chaver MIke LeighI knew you in Habonim, I even danced a fun "Ballet" with you and Dave Cantor. My husband Mike Landes, Manchester, died 15 years ago He would turn in his grave to hear your self hating,and one sided point of view. How can you be so so full of hatred for Israel.What as the Dead Sea shop at the natural History Museum got to do with the Palestinian Israel conflict? Why don't you come here and discuss the situation with Israelis who have done and are doing a great deal to try and get an understanding between Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and Jews. I ran an Arab Jewish theatre group for 30 years. Twice we got out of Gaza. We are not there now!!! THis week Israel has been attacked by rockets 5 times, today most of the inhabitants of Northern Negev are in shelters.
I suggest you get in touch with Lydia Eisenberg, who works at Givat Chaviva, at the Arab Israeli Palestinian centre.(She is Welsh like me.Your actions only serve to increase the hatred for Israel, which is out of all proportion. THe Arab Spring has helped the Palestinians? WOUld you also like to see us wiped out. Come to Israel!! Speak to people. It's easy to sit in LOndon and criticize. I'm sure you are very popular just now, with all the anti Zionist anti semites. I am sad that you have joined the "lets hate Israel" groups