Friday, 22 May 2009

Ken Loach attacked for siding with Palestinian over Edinburgh Film Festival

Jeremy Issacs is missing the point. This isn't a question of censorship but rather a determination to boycott Israel and all its works for as long as it continues to oppress the Palestinian people. Well done Ken Loach for leaning on the festival organisers to return the blood money.

From The Times

A row threatened to engulf the Edinburgh International Film Festival yesterday after it bowed to pressure from the director Ken Loach and returned a £300 grant it had received from the Israeli Embassy.

Sir Jeremy Isaacs, the former chief executive of Channel Four, accused the festival’s organisers of making “an appalling decision” and called on them to rescind it. Describing Loach’s intervention as an act of censorship, he said: “They must not allow someone who has no real position, no rock to stand on, to interfere with their programming.”

The grant was intended to enable Tali Shalom Ezer, a graduate of Tel Aviv University, to travel to Scotland for a screening of her film, Surrogate.

After days of protest against the award from pro-Palestinian organisations, Loach, an outspoken opponent of Israel’s policies in Lebanon and Gaza, urged filmgoers on Monday to boycott Edinburgh.

“The massacres and state terrorism in Gaza make this money unacceptable,” he said. “With regret, I must urge all who might consider visiting the festival to show their support for the Palestinian nation and stay away.”

The intervention brought an immediate capitulation from the organisers. In a statement the festival said it accepted that Loach spoke “on behalf of the film community, therefore we will be returning the funding issued by the Israeli Embassy”.

Sir Jeremy said that he was disgusted both by Loach’s actions and by the capitulation of the festival organisers. “Ken Loach has always been critical of censorship of his own work, albeit it was many years in the past. The idea that he should lend himself to the denial of a film-maker’s right to show her work is absolutely appalling,” he said.
See our earlier report on the film festival here

UK Foreign Office doing nothing to pressure Egypt over medics refused entry to Gaza

Dr Shove, second from right, with fellow protesters outside the Egyptian embassy Gaza protester backs hunger strike by barred medics team

A RETIRED consultant from Angel has voiced support for colleagues who have gone on hunger strike after being refused permission to enter war-devastated Gaza.

Dr David Shove accused Britain’s Foreign Office and the British Embassy in Cairo of failing to put sufficient pressure on the Egyptian authorities to allow a medical aid team access to an area which suffered Israeli bombing early this year.

In protest, three British medics went on hunger strike on the Egyptian border this week.
A Solidarity Tent has been set up outside the Egyptian Embassy in the West End in support of Omar Mangoush, a cardiac surgeon at Hammersmith Hospital, sister Kirsty Wong, a theatre sister in the cardiac surgical unit at Hammersmith, and Dr Chris Burns-Cox, a retired consultant physician from Bristol.

More at the Islington Tribune

Hope convoy ready to cross the Sinai for Gaza

From the Palestine Telegraph
The Hope for Gaza Convoy, organised by the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG), are making final preparations in Port Said for the departure this morning to head to Al Areesh and Al Rafah.

The organisers gathered the delegation into groups in order to consult on urgent procedural matters and to review current progress.There have been numerous delays since the cargo arrived in Alexandria on Saturday last.
Since then the organisers have been awaiting the arrival of a ship in Alexandria to take the medicines and medical equipment to Port Said where it will leave by road for the border crossing at Al Rafah. Parliamentarians and other elected officials from Europe contacted the Foreign Ministry to clarify outstanding matters and to seek assurances of co-operation from the Egyptian authorities.

Convoy Leader, Senator Fernando Rossi, from Italy said:

“The Foreign Ministry have pledged their support for the humanitarian aims of the convoy to relieve the suffering of innocent men, women and children in Gaza.” more

Israel kidnaps, beats and imprisons growing number of Palestinian children

The Palestinian ministry for prisoners’ affairs in Gaza says that the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) are kidnapping Palestinian children, physically attacking them and using violence to interrogate them.

The ministry underlined that international conventions prohibit the detention of children except in limited special cases on condition that they are well treated and their rights under international law protected.

The statement pointed out that Israel does not respect any of these conventions and systematically kidnaps children from their homes, schools or on the streets and at checkpoints.

The kidnapped children, according to the statement, are exposed to severe beatings and threats by IOF troops in order to inflict psychological harm on them so that they cannot think of resisting the occupation when they grow up.

The statement pointed to the kidnapping of six Palestinian children a few days ago in one of Ramallah's nearby villages, saying that they were maltreated and interrogated for 14 hours without allowing them to eat, drink or use the toilets.

The statement also noted that the number of children in Israeli jails rose to more than 430, and many of them are less than 12 years of age, adding that the children suffer from deliberate medical neglect, and are forced to wear orange uniforms and sleep on the ground.

Thanks to the Palestinian Information Center

Police surveillance of protesters using FIT units ruled illegal

Judge rules that the police use of photographers against peaceful law-
abiding protesters is illegal. London Met police Forward Intelligence
Teams (FIT) are regularly seen at protests taking pics of protesters.

This is a serious setback for the cops and a victory for the right to
protest, but much more needs to be done to roll back police powers in
the UK.