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The organisers of the Edinburgh International Film Festival have cancelled an official Israeli Embassy sponsorship of their programme and returned the Israeli cheque following a huge public outcry over Israeli Embassy involvement.
Shane Danielsen, the Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival wrote to all those who complained that he had "almost had my bottom teeth knocked out with the butt" of an Israeli rifle recently in Occupied Palestine, and that he was eager to assist those Israeli filmakers who stood "above all the gunfire, and the shouting of thuggish soldiers."
Writers, actors and members of the public inundated the organisers with mail and phone calls demanding the financial support from the Israeli Embassy be ended and warning that they would boycott Edinburgh's flagship event if this were not done.
The Edinburgh Branches of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Stop the War Coalition had planned to picket all major Film Festival events and shame the organisers if the link with the Israeli Embassy had been maintained.
The Film Festival website carries the following: "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."
Scottish PSC welcomes this late conversion of the EIFF organisers to opposition to human rights violations: it is regrettable, however, that the EIFF allowed the link to be made in the first place. It is simply not good enough to respond to the most recent massacres in Qana. Israel, after all, has been violating Palestinian human rights for decades. Israeli killing in Palestine, and Lebanon, continued yesterday.
The Edinburgh StWC and SPSC never at any time called for the banning of the Israeli film or film-maker in question. We will engage artistically and politically with all film-makers who deal with the issues of Israel's past and ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine and invasion of neighbouring countries.
Edinburgh Branches of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Stop the War Coalition