The maverick film director Ken Loach has attacked Israel’s action in Gaza, calling it “one of the great crimes of the last decades” and arguing that the rise in antisemitism is a direct consequence.
Speaking during a Belgian press conference at the launch of an international independent tribunal on the conflict, Mr Loach said individuals and organisations behind Operation Cast Lead would “have to pay” for their actions.
Referring to the Gaza conflict, Mr Loach, whose work includes the films Kes and Cathy Come Home, said: “When history comes to be written, I think this will be seen as one of the great crimes of the last decades because of the cold-blooded massacre that we witnessed. Unless we take a stand against it we are complicit.
“It’s very important that at the end of the tribunal we have absolutely secure evidence of the breaches of the law. We also want to see the chain of command; who sold the weapons, who provided the subsidies, who is propping up this regime? We need to know because in the end they will have to pay.
“I know there have been recently statements about the rise in antisemitism. Well, of course we all abhor racism in whatever form, wherever it comes, but nothing has been a greater instigator of antisemitism than the self-proclaimed Jewish state itself.
“Until we deal with that, until that is acknowledged, then racism, I’m afraid, will be with us.”
He declined a JC request to explain his comments in more detail.
Lior Ben Dor, press spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in London, said: “For such a celebrated filmmaker, it is surprising that Mr Loach has managed to omit the key protagonist responsible for the suffering of the Gazan people — Hamas.
“Instead, he presents a single angle of the conflict which removes the right and obligation of any government to defend its citizens from unrelenting terrorist attacks.
“Whether intentionally, or out of folly, Mr Loach’s comments serve to legitimise Hamas and its destructive agenda.”
Mr Loach has previously called for a cultural boycott of Israel, saying he would reject invitations to attend film festivals in the country. In the 1980s he was due to direct the anti-Zionist play Perdition, which alleged collaboration between Jews and Nazis in wartime Hungary, but the Royal Court banned its staging at the last minute.
His comments were made at the launch of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, in Brussels, on March 4.