Ken Loach calls for bishop's block on Jackie Walker meeting to be reversed

Filmmaker claims 'Zionists' used 'spurious' allegations of antisemitism to persuade church to ban hard-left activist


Ken Loach, the award-winning filmmaker, has claimed a decision to cancel a talk by activist Jackie Walker after an intervention by the Episcopalian Bishop of Edinburgh was the result of action by “Zionist individuals” aiming to stop criticism of the Israeli state.

Mr Loach, a vociferous critic of Israel in the past, also claimed that “exaggerated and spurious”  allegations of antisemitism were being used against pro-Palestinian campaigners in Scotland.

The I, Daniel Blake director, who is a supporter of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn,  joined actress Miriam Margolyes and Scottish activists to sign an open letter published by the Scottish Herald on Tuesday calling on the Episcopalian Bishop John Armes to the reverse the decision to stop Ms Walker from appearing at a Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign event at a church hall in Edinburgh on Monday.

In the letter, Mr Loach and the other signatories wrote: “ We regard this as a serious breach of the right to freedom of speech in Scotland.

"It is now becoming clear that Zionist individuals and organisations in Scotland are working hard to stifle all debate on the war crimes and human rights abuses of the Israeli State.

"Bishop Armes should be aware that Zionists comprise only a small minority of Scottish Jews and certainly do not represent the Jewish community in Scotland."

The letter continues: "Complaints of 'antisemitism' directed against pro-Palestinians in Scotland have consistently proved to be exaggerated and spurious.

"They, nevertheless, continue to be repeated with monotonous regularity, such that they have reached almost Trumpian proportions."

The Rt Rev Armes blocked Ms Walker from holding a talk at St Columba’ Scottish Episcopal Church on Monday night, saying there was a danger it could encourage abuse.

Mr Loach once called for Israel to be made a "pariah" state by the international community and for a boycott of all cultural and sporting events supported by the Israeli state.

In 2009 the Edinburgh International Film Festival handed back a £300 grant from the Israeli embassy in London to cover the travel expenses of filmmaker Tali Shalom Ezer, whose film Surrogate was being shown in Edinburgh during the festival, after Mr Loach protested.

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