Coen Brothers: Israel boycott not a solution

By Jennifer Lipman, May 16, 2011
The Coen Brothers

The Coen Brothers

The Coen Brothers have criticised the reasoning of artists who boycott the state of Israel.

The Academy-Award winning filmmakers, whose successes have included the recent western True Grit and the reworking of the biblical Job story A Serious Man, made the comments while in Israel for an award ceremony.

They were this year's recipients of the Dan David Prize, an award worth $1 million which honoured achievements of outstanding scientific, technological, cultural or social impact. A tenth of the prize money goes to students working in similar fields.

The judging panel of the annual prize praised them for "their ability to tell a simple story in a complex manner".

After the award was announced in February, pro-Palestinian groups called on the brothers to boycott it.

But according to Ha'aretz newspaper Ethan Coen said that while artists who boycotted Israel thought they were doing the right thing, he did not share that view. "We don't agree with that opinion, that that's how to deal with these problems," he said.

The brothers grew up in Minnesota but their mother lived in Israel for a period. Joel Coen said he and his brother had long wanted to visit the Jewish state "but life got in the way".

He said he was happy to be given the opportunity and that he considered the prize a "great honour" especially because it was "unsolicited and unexpected".

However the brothers did not reveal any plans to make a film about Israel.

"We don't really know Israel - we write American stories," said Joel. "That's what we know."

Last updated: 12:02pm, May 16 2011