Caryl Churchill, Mike Leigh call for international Israel boycott

Ken Loach (Photo: AP)

Ken Loach (Photo: AP)

British arts figures are among the signatories of an open letter calling for an international military boycott of Israel.

Filmmakers Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, playwright Caryl Churchill and Pink Floyd star Roger Waters are among those who have backed the call for "urgent" international action in the wake of this month's Gaza fighting.

They have been joined by other longtime critics of Israel in backing the letter, including Nobel prizewinner Mairead Maguire, who co-founded a group that sought non-violent means to end factional violence in Northern Ireland, and academic Noam Chomsky.

The letter, as quoted in the Guardian, said that the signatories were "horrified at the latest round of Israeli aggression" and condemned "the impunity that has enabled this new chapter in Israel's decades-old violations of international law and Palestinian rights".

They continued: "We believe there is an urgent need for international action towards a mandatory, comprehensive military embargo against Israel. Such a measure has been subject to several UN resolutions and is similar to the arms embargo imposed against apartheid South Africa in the past."

It also attacked the US and the EU for offering monetary support to the Israeli military, and described "the growing military ties between Israel and the emerging economies of Brazil, India and South Korea" as "unconscionable given their nominal support for Palestinian freedom".

According to the Guardian, the letter was signed by 52 people, including US author Alice Walker. Most of the signatories have made their opposition to Israel clear in the past, with both Ms Churchill and Mr Leigh signing the letter to the Guardian last March urging the Globe Theatre to stop Habima from performing in London. In 2010 Mr Waters was accused by the Anti Defamation League of "crossing a line into antisemitism" over his use of tour imagery that depicted Israel dropping bombs in the shape of stars of David.

Last updated: 2:07pm, November 30 2012