IPSC calls on ‘The Guard’ director not to participate in the Haifa Film Festival in Israel

The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) has issued an open letter to John Michael McDonagh, director of the acclaimed Irish film ‘The Guard’, asking him to respect the Palestinian civil society call for a cultural boycott of Israel and to not take part in the Haifa Film Festival in Israel.

Below is the full letter.

For further information and inquiries, please contact Raymond Deane, Cultural Boycott Officer of the IPSC at culturalboycott@ipsc.ie

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Open Letter to John Michael McDonagh: PLEASE GUARD AGAINST APARTHEID!

7th October 2011

Dear John Michael McDonagh,

Your film The Guard and its star Brendan Gleeson have already earned well-deserved accolades worldwide.However, if you participate in the Haifa Film Festival, you will lose much of this goodwill..

A city where Arabs and Jews once lived side by side in relative harmony but where successive Israeli governments have immiserated and ethnically cleansed the Palestinian inhabitants, Haifa is in many ways symbolic of the damage wrought by Zionism on the fabric of life in Palestine/Israel.

Your film about an unorthodox but lovable Irish policeman will be shown in what, as far as the Palestinians are concerned, is a police state. Israel systematically discriminates against its Palestinian citizens and cruelly persecutes those Palestinians under its de facto sovereignty in the Occupied Territories. The coexistence of separate legal systems for separate peoples amounts to the crime of Apartheid as defined by the UN. Such veterans of the South African freedom struggle as Nelson Mandela and Ronnie Kasrils have described Israeli oppression as “worse than Apartheid“.

The Israeli foreign ministry has admitted that it sees “no difference between propaganda and culture”. For this reason, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has called on “international artists of conscience… to refrain from showing their films or accepting awards at the festival… especially given the festival’s ties to the Haifa city government and the larger Israeli establishment, both of which use this as an opportunity to rebrand Israel as a normal country by showing its ‘prettier face’…“

Please heed the 2006 call by Palestinian filmmakers, artists and others to boycott state-sponsored Israeli cultural institutions, until Israel complies with international law, and ends its occupation and colonisation of Palestinian lands.

In response to this call, the British director Ken Loach asserted that he “would decline any invitation to the Haifa Film Festival or other such occasions.”

Also in response, some 210 Irish artists have signed a pledge not to accept invitations to Israel. The signatories include such respected filmmakers as Bob Quinn and Joe Comerford, and renowned actors such as Sinéad Cusack, Stephen Rea and Barry McGovern.

When governments refuse to take action against oppression, when indeed they are as complicit in it as are the US and EU governments in this case, civil society – of which artists are a part – is obliged to resort to such unpalatable measures as the boycott.

Please do not let your attendance at the festival be exploited by the Apartheid state of Israel. Please, in solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine, withdraw your film from the Haifa Film Festival.

Sincerely -

Raymond Deane

Cultural Boycott Officer
Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Related link: http://www.ipsc.ie