Boycott movement can oppose Israeli violence 

Accepting tainted money from the Israeli embassy 'was a mistake'
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

These unambiguous trends in civil society contrast with the unflinching support of the British Government and the EU for Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, for its brutal siege of Gaza and intensifying repression of Palestinian citizens inside Israel. While supporting Israeli brutality abroad, British legal authorities are taking steps to criminalise aspects of solidarity with Palestine here in the UK.  With official Government endorsement of such efforts, five members of the SPSC have been charged with ‘racially motivated conduct’ and go on trial shortly.  This follows a performance in Edinburgh by an Israeli ensemble, the Jerusalem Quartet, of whom it was said approvingly by admirers that ‘carrying a rifle in one hand and a violin in the other was the ultimate Zionist statement’. Scottish PSC carried the protest against these official ‘cultural ambassadors of Israel’ into the concert hall and we urge others to do likewise, wherever they exchange their rifles to make 'the ultimate Zionist statement' with their violins.

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. 

Mick Napier
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Sunday 17th May, 2009

 

 

Some excellent replies in response to EIFF's evasion of the issues
-----Original Message-----
From: Ginnie Atkinson
Sent: 14 May 2009 10:16
To: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Subject:

We regret that you have found cause to express concern about a source of cultural funding.

We accept funding from a variety of international cultural institutions to enable filmmakers to travel with their work. It is important that filmmakers come with their films to engage in a dialogue with international audiences. The funding comes from cultural support agencies of one sort or another; national cultural institutes, consulates, embassies, and others. This year alone we have financial contributions from Denmark, Poland, Holland, Italy, Mexico, Romania, Germany, USA and France.

We do not make these arrangements based on any allegiance or otherwise with the political regime in any given country. Choosing not to accept support from one particular country would set a dangerous precedent by politicising what is a wholly cultural and artistic mission. We are firm believers in free cultural exchange, and do not feel that ghettoising filmmakers or restricting their ability to communicate artistically on the basis that they come from a troubled territory is of any benefit. Nor do we see that filmmakers are voices of their government. It is particularly important in situations of strife and conflict that artists be supported in having their voices heard.

We hope this allays some, if not all, of your concerns.

We will not enter in to further dialogue.

Thank you.

Ginnie Atkinson 
MD  Edinburgh International Film Festival
88 Lothian Road, Edinburgh EH3 9BZ
Scotland, United Kingdom


 

Dear Ginnie Atkinson

I received your reply to my message protesting your decision to accept sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy in London. I have to say that in its obduracy and blatant disregard for the suffering of men, women, and children in Palestine, the countless victims of Israel's ethnic cleansing and apartheid, it is nothing short of reprehensible.

You are also being disingenuous in accusing those who are dismayed at this decision of attempting to 'ghettoise filmmakers'. This is clearly not the case. On the contrary, speaking for myself, I welcome the free flow of ideas and art as a way of celebrating our common humanity. The point of my complaint and protest is, however, as I'm sure you know, that you have chosen to accept sponsorship from a government which currently operates the largest ghettoisation of human beings in human history.

Indeed, need I remind you that 1.4 million Palestinians currently exist in a hermetically sealed ghetto in the Gaza Strip. There they are being systematically starved, abused, degraded, and slaughtered by the State of Israel. Many of them, I am sure, would love to be able to attend the EIFF this year. Unfortunately, if they dare try to leave their ghetto they will be killed in the process. This is the reality of life for 1.4 million human beings in the world outside the safe environs of the Filmhouse in Edinburgh.

As for setting a precedent, that was already set when the EIFF returned Israeli sponsorship money in 2006 in response to Israel's attack on Lebanon. Therefore, simple logic suggests that in response to an even more destructive and barbaric assault on a civilian population just a few short months ago in Gaza, which both the International Red Cross and the UN described as a war crime, that the same cultural event would continue to take a stand on the side of its victims.

Art and culture is no excuse for disengaging from international law and human rights. Before we are artists, filmmakers or directors of film festivals we are human beings and thereby obligated to take a stand against the barbarism of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and infanticide.

The screams of the Palestinian children, 400 of them, that were slaughtered by Israeli bombs and bullets back in January transcend the importance of any film festival or appeal to culture behind which you have chosen to justify this monstrous decision. Moreover, they render your decision an abomination and an affront to human decency.

Yours sincerely


By all means do not enter into further correspondence; knowing that I have had the last word is reassuring.
These are pure apologies; how can anybody deal with such racists as the Israeli administration? If you are as Catholic as you appear, would you accept that the EIFF show raw film shot by residents of Gaza during the IDF blitzkrieg? That's 'cultural' wouldn't you say to show the human suffering caused by another group of so called humans?

From your decision it appears that the EIFF has nothing to teach me about culture; I am a 68 year retired Professional Engineer and have no axes to grind and no connections with Arab, Jew or Israeli. I am ethnic English, whatever that is, and was a child when Ben Gurion started what turned out to be a holocaust. I see as quite bizarre the similarities between what happens in Israel now and what happened in Nazi Germany to the Jews.

History will make a chilling analysis I feel sure.

It is sad to say that many decent Israelis would be affected by any blanket bans, but the ones I know are prepared to accept that.


Dear Ginnie

Thank you for your prompt response. May I say that I certainly would not wish to undermine the impartiality of the work of the EIFF or contribute to ‘ghettoising filmmakers’. I simply want to be clear that I think that it is inappropriate to accept funding from a regime which advocates ethnic cleansing and occupation and is continually in breach of international law. I have no issue with filmmakers from any part of our world engaging with international audiences no matter what their message is. None of the other countries you mention, making financial contributions are in breach of international law and I don’t feel that is a meaningful comparison: but would EIFF accept funding from the Zimbabwian Government for example? A reasonable comparison under the circumstances.

Thank you again for your prompt response, but I’m afraid it does nothing to address my key issue or allay any concerns I have about the appropriateness of accepting funding from the Israeli Embassy. You will be aware that Edinburgh voted on its feet earlier this year in response to the atrocities perpetrated by the Israeli Government in Gaza with hugely attended demonstrations and rallies. I would imagine this could be reflected in their response to your funding package for the 2009 EIFF.

I have the greatest respect for EIFF and all that it achieves, but I am genuinely concerned about the potential shame and dishonour which could be brought upon both our city and festival if Israel is a key stakeholder in the provision of our cultural and artistic mission.

Yours sincerely


Dear Ginnie

So I suppose you would accept money from Nazi Germany or the Ku Klux Klan? - It is called "ethics" something which seems to lack from the dictionary of the Edinburgh Film Festival.

Israel has been committing crimes against the Palestinian people for decades, in defiance of international law and basic standards of human rights. In January this year, the Israel Occupation Forces murdered 1400 defenseless Palestinians, trapped under a genocidal siege in what has become the biggest open air prison in the world.

You speak about "free cultural exchange" so I wonder what do you have to say about Israel's bombing and destruction of 33 schools during the last massacre? What do you have to say of the hundreds of Palestinian artists who cannot move between Palestinian towns due to inhumane checkpoints let alone leave the country? What do you have to say about the imprisonment of Samieh Jabbarin, artist and a Palestinian citizen of Israel who is under house arrest for daring to speak out in protest of Israeli massacre of Palestinians? Would he be allowed to come to the Edinburgh Film Festival?

Israel film and arts are complicit with the occupation and dispossession of the Palestinians. Apart from a tiny minority of Israelis, most have nothing to say about the wiping off the map of Palestine or indeed celebrate Israeli statehood (ethnic cleansing) through the arts.

Therefore we will continue to demand that the Edinburgh Film Festival return the tainted money and keep up the pressure.

Best wishes


Dear Ginnie

Thank you for your response.

Do you at least accept that our discussion is not about people "coming from a troubled territory", but on your accepting sponsorship from a regime that is engaged in crimes against humanity? Remember that I have made no point here about film- makers or artists, but on the financial contribution from the Israeli Embassy, and I refuse to have my complaint misrepresented.

Regards


Dear Ginnie

Thanks for a quick response.
Of course I accept that film makers are not generally the voice of their government.
However, embassies are. And it is the Israeli embassy that is being promoted through sponsorship of the festival.
I continue to urge you to return the money and disassociate the festival from the Israeli government.
Yours sincerely


No, Ginny, I'm afraid not. If the money had come from groups actively involved in trying to resolve the conflict peacefully then fair enough.

Alas, the Israeli government is on a daily basis involved in the absolute opposite. Please open your eyes, and inform yourself. The Pope no less has expressed his feelings about this issue only yesterday. So, unfortunately your response just wont do. In fact, it's a disgrace. Money from the Israeli state stinks, and is available as part of their effective, but extremely cynical efforts to retain some degree of respectalibity. If you use the money to fund documentaries revealing the nature of Israeli apartheid, then maybe that would be an appropriate use of dirty money, but otherwise No.
Please reconsider.


Dear Madam/Sir

Whilst I firmly agree that film makers and artists are not the same as the government of a country this was emphatically not the point that I raised in my email. The issue that I was concerned with is not the existence of Israeli films or directors at the festival, but the funding for the festival from the Israeli Embassy, a section of a government that is illegally occupying Palestinian land and killing thousands of people in the process. Would you support funding from the embassy of Burma?

By misconstruing my email to you it seems to me that you are deliberately distracting from the focus of my email that was that by accepting money from a section of the Israeli state (i.e. the embassy) you are implicitly supporting the illegal occupation. This is especially insensitive as it comes just a few months after the massacre of over 1400 people in Gaza. You have not allayed my concerns and so I stand by my decision not to go to the festival and not to inform the LSE film society membership about it, funded as it is by blood money.

Regards


Dear Ginnie Atkinson

As filmmakers who also programme Palestinian and Israeli film, we were surprised to read your letter of response to Scottish PSC which we noticed on their website. It seems inexplicably naïve for a film festival to claim that cultural and artistic missions can or should be separated from political realities.

No-one has asked the EIFF to ban Israeli filmmakers or their films. The problem many people have is with offering a platform for the Israeli state to present itself as a sponsor of ‘culture’ while it simultaneously, and brazenly, crushes all Palestinian cultural aspiration and infrastructure. You claim that you believe in ‘cultural exchange’ and ‘do not believe in ghettoising filmmakers’ – well so do we, which is why we ask you to refuse funding from the state that regularly prevents Palestinian artists, students, academics and others from leaving the ghettos which they have been put in. Arguments around ‘freedom of expression’ cannot seriously be invoked in a situation in which one party has the privilege of power and freedom, while the other has none.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival is sending a message to Palestinian filmmakers, artists, and society as whole, that it’s business as usual and Israel may continue to present herself as sponsor of culture at high-profile international festivals, while the destruction of Gaza and the ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and East Jerusalem continue apace. Please consider the human cost of Palestinian cultural expression, and think again.

Yours Sincerely


Dear Ginnie Atkinson

I have just heard the news that your festival has accepted sponsorship from Israel.

I have since come accross a copy of what is perhaps a standard response to complaints you have received (I can only assume this is a standard response as it fails to address the issues put to you).

Your response seems to demonstrate an ignorance of the implications of your actions. In particular, the following extract is very troubling, for reasons which I hope are now apparent to you:

"We are firm believers in free cultural exchange, and do not feel that ghettoising filmmakers or restricting their ability to communicate artistically on the basis that they come from a troubled territory is of any benefit."

Surely you are aware that Israeli's are not the "ghettois[ed]" in this conflict, and that Israel is well practiced at using cultural sponsorship as a propoganda tool.

If you are happy to be a vehicle for Israeli propoganda, please keep hold of their money.
But understand that it comes at considerable cost to the festival's hard-fought reputation.

In 2006, you did the right thing in returning Israeli sponsorship in the wake of the Lebannon crisis. The crisis for the Palestinians is no less deserving of acts of international solidarity, even if such acts imply a financial burden.

As an Edinburgh resident, and regular of the Filmhouse and the EIFF, I would be disappointed to have to end our relationship. However, given that I accept that solidarity with the oppressed sometimes means making sacrifices, giving up my favourite cinema is a small price to pay and I am absolutely prepared to do so. I will also make every effort to encourage my friends to do likewise.

I had planned to visit the Filmhouse this weekend, so please let me know as a matter of urgency if the money is to be returned or not.

Yours sincerely


Dear Ms Atkinson

I read your response to the call for a boycott of contributions to your festival received from Israel. Whilst not all cultural institutions in Israel are imbedded in the Israeli government policies of occupation and humiliation of the Palestinina people, it is a very safe bet that most of them, as is the case with educational institutions, are heavily indebted to that policy. The recent Israeli campaign in Gaza (and the overall public support it received within Israel) stands as proof of that.

There has never been a modern state, like Israel, where the promotion of apartheid policies is conducted under the guise of culture, from art to dance to film making and theatre. The message and the aim are, to a large extent, coloured by the general policies of the state of Israel. It is impossible to separate these activities when it comes to Israel. No wonder the boycott campaigns are spreading throughout the world.

It is possible that you may wish to publicize the source of your contributor to deflect criticism about such contribution. The Edinburgh Film Festival prides itself for its international reputation. I am sure that if the Israeli contribution is rejected and returned, the Festival would still survive...and with dignity.

Sincerely

DEAR SUPPORTER OF PALESTINIAN RIGHTS

The Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) has again accepted funding from the Israeli Embassy, while people in Gaza are still living in the rubble of their homes, and Gaza victims of Israel’s white phosphorous attacks are still in critical care.

In 2006, a public outcry forced the EIFF to return Israel’s tainted money. On that occasion the EIFF stated publicly that its action was due to popular outrage at the massacres Israel had recently committed in Lebanon:

"This funding was secured some three months ago, well before the commencement of current hostilities in Lebanon. Of course we acknowledge that the situation has altered dramatically since then, and with this in mind, took the decision early yesterday to decline any funding from the Israelis."

The Director’s decision to again associate the Israeli Government with the EIFF comes after the massacres of over 1400 people in Gaza, during which:
• The United Nations said the IDF intentionally burned its food stores in Gaza
• Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International accused the army of illegally using phosphorous bombs in densely populated areas
• The International Red Cross described the injured being denied medical attention and strikes on medical crews
• Israeli journalist Amira Hass wrote of the killing of people flying white flags and the annihilation of entire families
• British MP Gerald Kaufmann described Israel’s mass killing as ‘Nazi’
• The UN General Assembly President called for a world-wide boycott of ‘apartheid Israel’

Only a few days ago, on May 1st, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Palestine condemned ‘the recent wave of eviction orders and demolitions of Palestinian houses’. Israel’s ongoing crimes include the murder of unarmed protesters, the burning of olive groves and other farmland, the continued imposition of a brutal siege of Gaza, and the extension of its apartheid Wall, declared illegal by the International Court. It is unbearable that EIFF should accept sponsorship from such a Government.

Faced with such awful crimes, Israeli poet Aharon Shabtai had no choice:
“I do not believe that a State that maintains an occupation, committing on a daily basis crimes against civilians, deserves to be invited to any kind of cultural week. That is, it is anti-cultural; it is a barbarian act masked as culture in the most cynical way. It manifests support for Israel.”

We hope the EIFF will follow the example the Bloomsbury Theatre which recently cancelled a performance involving Israeli military personnel. Failing this, we will:
• organise pickets at EIFF events
• publicise the Festival’s links with the Israeli Embassy locally and internationally
• call for a boycott of the 2009 events to protest Israel’s massacres of the Palestinian people

Please protest to the EIFF personally, stating that
• you view the link with the Israeli Embassy as collusion in Israel’s recent and ongoing crimes
• such a link brings discredit on the Festival, the City and Scotland
• you will not participate in any of the events unless the Israeli Government money is returned
• you support the planned protest and calls for a boycott if the link with the Israeli Embassy is maintained
• you are not taking issue with any films being shown; it is opposition to accepting funding from a murderous regime

SPSC would appreciate being cc’d on any correspondence - please send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CONTACT THE EIFF:

Edinburgh International Film Festival
88 Lothian Road
Edinburgh EH3 9BZ
Tel: 00 44 (0)131 228 4051
Fax: 00 44 (0)131 229 5501
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Scottish PSC Letter:

To: Ginnie Atkinson
Managing Director
Edinburgh International Film Festival

While people in Gaza are still living in the rubble of their homes, and Gaza victims of Israel’s white phosphorous attacks are still in critical care, the Edinburgh International Film Festival has again accepted funding from the Israeli Embassy. This will shock many.

In 2006, a public outcry forced the EIFF to return Israel’s tainted money. On that occasion the EIFF stated publicly that its action was due to popular outrage at the massacres Israel had recently committed in Lebanon:

"This funding was secured some three months ago, well before the commencement of current hostilities in Lebanon. Of course we acknowledge that the situation has altered dramatically since then, and with this in mind, took the decision early yesterday to decline any funding from the Israelis."

Your decision to again associate the Israeli Government with the EIFF comes after the massacres of over 1400 people in Gaza, during which:

• The United Nations said the IDF intentionally burned its food stores in Gaza
• Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International accused the army of illegally using phosphorous bombs in densely populated areas
• The International Red Cross described the injured being denied medical attention and strikes on medical crews
• Israeli journalist Amira Hass wrote of the killing of people flying white flags, the annihilation of entire families
• British MP Gerald Kaufmann described Israel’s mass killing as ‘Nazi’
• The UN General Assembly President called for a world-wide boycott of ‘apartheid Israel’

Only a few days ago, on May 1st, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Palestine condemned ‘the recent wave of eviction orders and demolitions of Palestinian houses’. Israel’s ongoing crimes include the murder of unarmed protesters, the burning of olive groves and other farmland, the continued imposition of a brutal siege of Gaza, and the extension of its apartheid Wall, declared illegal by the International Court. It is unbearable that you should accept sponsorship from such a Government.

Israeli poet Aharon Shabtai:
“I do not believe that a State that maintains an occupation, committing on a daily basis crimes against civilians, deserves to be invited to any kind of cultural week. That is, it is anti-cultural; it is a barbarian act masked as culture in the most cynical way. It manifests support for Israel.”

We hope the EIFF will follow the example the Bloomsbury Theatre which recently cancelled a performance involving Israeli military personnel. We insist that the Edinburgh International Film Festival cancels its sponsorship by the Israeli Embassy immediately.

Failing this, we will
• organise pickets at EIFF events
• publicise the Festival’s links with the Israeli Embassy locally and internationally
• call for a boycott of the 2009 events to protest Israel’s massacres of the Palestinian people

Do not collude with murder and ethnic cleansing.

Mick Napier
Chair, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
 


Your Letters:

Supporters have copied Scottish PSC on their correspondence with EIFF - please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to send us your letters.

 

Dear Director of the Edinburgh Int. Film Festival (EIFF),

I am writing to express my profound disappointment on learning that the EIFF has accepted funding from the Government of the State of Israel through the Israeli Embassy.

I would like to make you aware that I view the Government of Israel as an apartheid government presiding and fortifying an apartheid state no less than the apartheid state that was the Republic of South Africa.

I am sure that you are aware that the Government of Israel recently took military action against the besieged population of Gaza and destroyed an already crumbling infrastructure that was barely surviving under total isolation and israeli control.

I urge you to return the funds the EIFF has received from the Government of Israel as the acceptance of these funds will be perceived as EIFF support for the Government of Israel and it's cultural, material and human destruction of the palestinian population in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

By returning the israeli funds, the EIFF has the unique opportunity of giving the Government of Israel a strong and clear message that the EIFF will not be a partner of the israeli government's public relations endeavour to show itself as a participant in a pre-eminent scottish cultural event when it is denying basic human needs, dignity and cultural expression to the palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

You may be interested to learn that Jerusalem is designated '2009 Capital of Arab Culture' and in March the israeli police instrument of the Government of Israel forcibly stopped and cancelled any celebration marking and reflecting this event by palestinians in East Jerusalem and in Nazareth. Please see report link below.
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/03/200932116227172756.html 

I trust that you will take the decision to return israeli government funding and deny the israeli government the opportunity to hide its cultural and human rights denial of palestinians behind a monetary donation to the Edinburgh Int. Film Festival. The EIFF can do without that kind of money or a resulting reputation of supporting the increasingly acknowledged and evident apartheid practioner State of Israel.

Please see below the position communication of the Scottish Branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Perhaps you'd like to make a donation.

Thank you for your attention

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


Dear Sir/Madam, Having studied and lived in Palestine and Israel, I am shocked that your organisation should dream of accepting financial support from the Apartheid State of Israel !Lebanon/Gaza show the world the true nature of the State Ilan Pappe's book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, leaves one in no doubt as to what is the real nature of the Israel's policy. We were all against apartheid in South Africa; now our energies must support a Palestinian State, and allow the four million plus Refugees return to their Homeland! Have courage to be on the side of Justice!!!! Yours faithfully

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


Dear Edinburgh Film Festival,

It is with shock and shame that I hear that you are prepared to accept funding from the Israeli Embassy.

I visited the West Bank with my daughter last October; let me tell you that the scale of the injustice and brutality inflicted on Palestinian civilians on a daily basis shocked me to the core.

Since I came back to Scotland, Israel has unleashed yet another slaughter on Palestinian civilians, this time in Gaza. You must surely be aware that over 1,300 civilians died in the carnage; illegal weapons were used by Israel; the Israeli army attacked UN facilities, including schools; they also attacked ambulances.

Please justify to me how you can honorably accept funding from a government that flagrantly flouts international law on a casual, routine basis.

Either that, or my preferred option: tell me that you have decided to return the funding, informing the Israeli Embassy that you will have no dealings with them until they end the brutal siege of Gaza, recognise the Palestinians' right to a nation and withdraw from the vast tracts of Palestinian land which they illegally occupy,

yours very sincerely

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


I find it abhorrent that the film fest are prepared to accept blood money from the israeli embassy.
Perhaps those organising the festival can hold their noses, but Israeli bombardments causing palestinian civilian deaths, their continued occupation, their demolition of palestinian homes, and their illegal settlements, portray them as a PARIAH state.
Please reconsider, and hand back their blood money. Discourage their abhorrent policies. Show a film, or documentary showing the palestinain/israeli conflict as it is. Not that spun so cynically by the israeli state.

You can do better

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


Dear Ms Atkinson,

Israeli Funding

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign tell me that you are accepting funding from Israel.

After the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006 your organisation decided send back funding from Israeli sources.

Please do not be forced by public outrage to send money back this time. Do it on your own initiative and raise the profile of your international event. What Israel did in Gaza was cynical and horrific and you must not be associated with Israeli Government funding. You do not need the adverse publicity of a campaign against you by those who find Israel’s actions repugnant.

I urge you to think carefully about this matter.

Yours sincerely

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


I am aghast to hear that the EIFF has again agreed to accept funding from racist Israeli sources and I know many Israelis who are equally horrified by the fascist activities of the Israeli government, the new Nazis.
Let me say that my comments in no way impinge on any of the contributors to your programme, but they would all be tainted if your event accepts any contributions from such a pariah administration.
The list of antagonists to the activities of Israel is too long to repeat but let's not forget the considered opinions of such intellects as Avi Shlaim, Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky and the statements of conscience by Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and many , many others; do not forget the factual reports of the Red Cross, Amnesty International, B'Tselem and the recent UN report showing the outrageous activity of the IDF in Gaza, the unbelievable ferocity of their actions and the continuing misery they have forced on innocent people. The Israeli government are blatantly recreating all the menace and cruelty of the Nazis who so similarly treated the Jews.
Israel is the major cause of unrest in the Middle East and, until it learns to live in peace with its neighbours, a menace to us all.
They must not be allowed to garner support anywhere and I am amazed that the EIFF in Scotland, the land of birth of my own grandsons, would countenance such a thing. How can people who do such awful things, attack civilians with phosphorus, attack kill and maim indiscriminately, be called 'cultured' or even developed?
You must send them a message.

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


Dear Sirs,

As an Edinburgh resident and a film-goer, I am disappointed to learn that the Edinburgh International Film Festival has accepted funding from the Israeli Embassy. Despite the fact that there are some great films showing, I will not be able to take part in a Festival which in effect condones the war crimes committed in Gaza. In fact, I feel obliged to make some protest against this situation, which will at least involve discouraging my friends from attending and may extend to picketing venues.

I think you probably realise that many in your prospective audience regard Israel's actions as deeply immoral and, frustrated by government inaction, are prepared to take action themselves to condemn and boycott organisations that support this apartheid regime. By associating yourself with a government which includes the openly racist Avigdor Lieberman you are tarnishing the reputation of the festival and the City of Edinburgh. I suggest you rectify the situation as quickly as possible, before your audience turns against you.

Moreover, I object to my taxes being used to fund a festival that endorses racism and the murder of innocents, and I will not support future funding from either the Council or the Government.

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


Dear EIFF organisers,
It has been brought to my attention that the Edinburgh International Film Festival has recently accepted a sum of money from the Israeli Embassy as event sponsorship.

I write to protest against that.
The policy of the Israeli state to illegally occupy the Palestinian Territories brings hardship, suffering and, all too often, death to innocent people.
The matter is a controversial one, however, each person and each organisation has a choice to make.!

Israel's actions during the recent war on Gaza caused the deaths of over 1400 people.

Israeli actions in that attack were condemned by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, International Crisis Group and many political leaders across Europe and the world.

The International Red Cross described the injured being denied medical attention and strikes on medical crews.

The widely respected British MP Sir Gerald Kaufmann - himself Jewish - has called for sanctions against Israel.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress recently agreed a policy of boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli State.

As with apartheid South Africa, people throughout the world - including here in Scotland - are uniting to boycott the Israeli State in an attempt to pressure them into a political compromise.

It is in this context that the EIFF has accepted money from the Israeli Embassy.

The EIFF has in the past recognised its mistake in doing so. In reference to funding accepted in 2006 following Israeli military action on Lebanon the EIFF said:

"This funding was secured some three months ago, well before the commencement of current hostilities in Lebanon. Of course we acknowledge that the situation has altered dramatically since then, and with this in mind, took the decision early yesterday to decline any funding from the Israelis."

In 2009 the situation has deteriorated further still. Gaza is a virtual prison. Israeli human rights organisation B'tselem (www.btselem.org)record daily abuses in the occupied West Bank. Innocent people are dying.

Recognise your mistake; hand the money back to the Israeli Embassy.

If not I will boycott the film festival and will take part in planned peaceful protest against the EIFF.

Yours Hopefully

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


Good morning (13th May 2009)
I understand that the Edinburgh Film Festival currently receives funding from Israeli government sources.
In view of Israel's long standing attitude and approach to the the rights and claims of the Palestinian people and the refusal of the Israeli government to follow up on the international outrage to its approach to the problem by adhering to UN demands in relation to the situation, I ask you to reconsider this relationship.
The international film industry has a long, well established reputation for highlighting injustice.
So it must be unacceptable to take funding from a source built on injustice.
This is especially so in that on past record, your relationship with Israel will be used by that government to claim moral and political acceptability.
Yours Faithfully

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


Hi there,

I really don't have the time to write long winded emails, but I have taken the time out of my immensely busy schedule as a musician to protest against your acceptance of Israeli funds.

By accepting money from a brutal organisation which prevents people from living a quality, peaceful life, and also has no problem with bombing schools and hospitals with cluster bombs and other illegal weapons, you are actually putting your stamp of approval on that sort of behaviour.

I have been a huge fan of what the Edinburgh Festival and the Edinburgh Film Festival do, but with this recent development in mind I will not be attending this year.

The Science Museum in London made the same error a few months ago by hirring exhibition space to the Zionist Council of Great Britain, a racist organisation which has no place in British culture. Unfortunately it looks like the Edinburgh Film Festival have made the same shocking mistake.

Best to you

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


Dear Film Festival Organisers

I am distressed to learn today that the EIFF has agreed to accept funding from the Israeli Embassy. Assuming my informant has understood this correctly, I very much hope that you will reconsider this decision, as you did in 2006, following Israel’s outrageous actions in Lebanon.

We all know that the situation in the Middle East is complex and that, in the current phase of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, displaced when the modern state of Israel was established, wrongs have been committed on both sides. It is clear to any impartial observer, however, that Israel’s response to the Gaza situation has been totally disproportionate and that they have shelled and bombed without regard to the lives of the helpless and innocent, trapped in that overcrowded and deprived strip of land. It is also clear that Israel, confident of support in the US and its western allies, believes it can defy the United Nations, the rules of just war and internationally agreed human rights conventions.

I believe cultural activities can form a bridge between peoples who are disunited in other ways. I am an admirer, for example, of Daniel Barenboim’s work in using music as a bridge between these two peoples. It is naive, however, to think that we can entirely divorce the cultural from the political. Those of us who care for the rule of law and for upholding human rights need to stand together at this time to condemn Israel’s recent and current policies towards the Palestinian people. One way in which we can and must do this is to refuse to accept their sponsorship until their policy changes.

I hope you will urgently reconsider your acceptance of this money and the credence your acceptance gives to a discredited regime..

Yours sincerely

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


Hi guys,
I'm writing to request you refuse funding from the Israeli Embassy for the film festival.
It really doesn't seem right, given the atrocities Israel has committed and is inflicting on Gazan Palestineans.
I imagine it really isn't the image you want to portray, either; friends of such a murderous regime.
I am sure you are all decent people, with a political conscience, and I suppose you just need lots of people like me to contact you and object, and then you will have a decent reason to refuse the money.
So here I am. I object. Please don't take the money.
Regards

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing to protest in the strongest possible terms at your decision to accept funding from the Israeli government. This apartheid regime should be ostracised from the community of civilised nations, and deserves unmitigated condemnation for the war crimes they committed in their recent Gaza campaign, and the crimes that they continue to commit daily against the besieged Palestinians.

My appeal to you is that you should return those funds to that government and most importantly inform them of your reasons for doing so.

Thanking you

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


Dear Sirs

I am concerned that the Edinburgh International Film Festival is receiving funding from the Israeli Embassy. Israel, earlier this year, was responsible for a massacre in Gaza claiming the lives of over 1400 people.

I urge you not to accept the money from the embassy as it is a ploy: a bribe to give the Israeli government an air of respectability in the aftermath of their bloody attack.

Regards
 

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


To Whom It May Concern

I am concerned to learn that the International Film Festival has accepted funding from the Israeli Embassy. As the mother of Scottish-Palestinian children, I find it wholly unacceptable that a Scottish institution with as strong a reputation as the Film Festival, should consider accepting money from a State that has committed genocide on the Palestinian people.

Make no mistake, accepting this tainted donation means you are actively supporting an apartheid system that killed more than 400 bairns just a matter of months ago. Have you forgotten the images of babies with limbs blown off, or the mothers shot whilst waving white flags and shepherding their children to safety? Gazans are still living in devastation, with white phosphorus remnants still burning their skin, still living on international handouts and still with no homes, trapped in the concentration camp that is Gaza and still with no hope for the future!

I absolutely oppose you accepting this donation. Do what is right; send it back, with the strong message that the arts community in Scotland stands with the oppressed people of Palestine, and stands against the annihilation of the Palestinian cultural heritage and people by the Israeli State.

I look forward to your reconsidering this ill-thought out donation, and holding your head high against this disgraceful attempt by Israel to gain public acceptance in spite of their heinous war crimes.

Yours
 

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


Dear Ms. Atkinson

I am told that EIFF has accepted funding from the Israeli Embassy. If this is true, I respectfully request that you return the funding to the Israeli Embassy. Acceptance of such funding is tantamount to acceptance of Israel's policies and actions with respect to the Palestinian people.

By now it is apparent that these policies and actions constitute oppression similar to, and in some cases worse than, that practiced in apartheid South Africa. Israel’s ongoing crimes include the murder of unarmed protesters, the burning of olive groves and other farmland, the continued imposition of a brutal siege of Gaza, and the extension of its apartheid Wall, declared illegal by the International Court. It is unbearable that EIFF should accept sponsorship from such a regime.

Your link with the Israeli Embassy, if maintained, will bring discredit on the Festival, the City of Edinburgh, and on Scotland. I normally participate in several events during the Film Festival, but I will not participate this year unless the Israeli government money is returned. I will support the planned protests and call for a boycott of EIFF if the link is not repudiated.

You must be aware that a growing number of organisations and businesses are refusing any links with the Israeli Government and businesses.

Bloomsbury theatre recently cancelled a performance which involved Israeli military personnel. It is time for EIFF stand up for what is right.

Respectfully yours
 

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


Dear Director

I understand that the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) has again accepted funding from the Israeli Embassy, while people in Gaza are still living in the rubble of their homes, and Gaza victims of Israel’s white phosphorous attacks are still in critical care. This despite the fact that previous funding from the Israeli government in 2006 had to be returned after Israeli massacres in Lebanon.

Why are you so determined to be associated with the Israeli government? Nothing can justify the ongoing destruction of Palestinian lives, basic human rights homes, and property, while Gaza has been turned effectively into a concentration camp. Already one of the most crowded places on earth owing to the refugees who have fled there over the last 50 years, residents cannot leave and last winter over 1400 people were killed there by the Israeli army. The United Nations has said the IDF intentionally burned its food stores in Gaza. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International accused the army of illegally using phosphorous bombs in densely populated areas. The International Red Cross described the injured being denied medical attention and strikes on medical crews. Israeli journalist Amira Hass wrote of the killing of people flying white flags and the annihilation of entire families. I agree with British MP Gerald Kaufmann when he described Israel’s mass killing as ‘Nazi’. The UN General Assembly President has called for a world-wide boycott of ‘apartheid Israel’. I hope the EIFF will follow the example the Bloomsbury Theatre which recently cancelled a performance involving Israeli military personnel.

I wish to protest in the strongest possible terms that you are seriously damaging the reputation of the EIFF and bringing discredit on the Festival, the City and Scotland as a whole. To accept Israeli government money is to collude in its crimes.

I do not take issue with any films being shown, but I object very strongly to your accepting funding from a this racist and murderous regime and while you continue to do so wish to have nothing whatsoever to do with your event.

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)


Dear EIFF

It is with deep and profound sadness and anger that I have learned of your decision to accept sponsorship from the Israeli government this year.

Just a few short months after one of the most barbaric and wanton attacks on a civilian population was carried out on the world's largest open prison, otherwise known as Gaza, during which 1400 men, women, and children were slaughtered by the 4th largest and most powerful military in the world, it shames me to know that an event held in Scotland which describes itself as 'international' should accept funding from a state which denies the fundamental human rights of an entire people, the Palestinian people.

Would the EIFF have accepted sponsorship money from apartheid South Africa? Would it have accepted money from the Nazi government after it had destroyed the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943?

In accepting money from the apartheid state of Israel, described as such by the likes of ex-US president Jimmy Carter, former Archbishop Desmond Tutu, along with most recently the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), and not forgetting the millions across the world who came out and demonstrated against Israel's three week assault on Gaza back in January, the EIFF declares that it condones ethnic cleansing, apartheid, military occupation, and the indiscriminate slaughter of women and children.

In the 60 years of its existence the state of Israel has violated more UN resolutions than every other UN member state combined. It continues to expropriate Palestinian land, expand and build illegal settlements, destroy Palestinian homes, villages, and crops. In the West Bank over 500 Israeli military checkpoints have reduced the daily lives of the Palestinian people to a living hell, and within its dungeons the Israelis hold 10,000 Palestinian prisoners, many of those children under the age of 14 and the vast majority without charge or due process.

I was proud to have played a part in persuading the EIFF to return Israeli sponsorship money in 2006, and I fully intend to do my utmost, along with I am sure a legion of others who will be similarly outraged, to campaign to have the money returned again this year.

A peaceful picket of the EIFF will take place, along with determined and vigorous steps to ensure that the EIFF is boycotted by filmmakers and artists internationally.

But I urge you to think again. Before we are filmmakers, festival organisers, or artists, we are human beings and as such obligated to stand on the side of the oppressed, regardless of the God they worship, the colour of their skin, or their economic status. The humanity of the Palestinian people, the tears of the countless Palestinian children made orphans and refugees for the crime of being born Palestinian, the screams of Palestinian mothers in Gaza watching their children being incinerated, such crimes require that all good men and women join the great cause of universal human rights in opposition to the racism and exceptionalism which has lain at the root of every genocide throughout history.

Respectfully yours

Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(Details withheld)

 

We, the undersigned Arab cineastes, would like to thank you for exercising pressure on the Edinburgh Film Festival to cancel an official Israeli Embassy sponsorship of the festival's programme.

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