The Guardian last week published a ‘we, the undersigned’ letter from 50 ‘artists of conscience’ urging the BBC to boycott this year’s Eurovision Song Contest because it’s taking place in Israel. ‘Eurovision may be light entertainment,’ they wrote, ‘but it is not exempt from human rights considerations — and we cannot ignore Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian human rights.’ The signatories included such luminaries as Julie Christie, Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters, Vivienne Westwood and Ken Loach.
Ken’s inclusion will have come as a surprise to those Israelis who saw his film I, Daniel Blake in Tel Aviv a couple of years ago. Ken’s hypocrisy was pointed out when he chastised Radiohead for ignoring the cultural boycott of Israel. ‘Radiohead need to decide whether they stand with the oppressed or the oppressor,’ he thundered in the Independent. Asked why Ken hadn’t observed the boycott, his producer Rebecca O’Brien said she’d done the deal ‘accidentally’ and without Ken’s knowledge, a claim pooh-poohed by his Israeli distributor Guy Shani. ‘I can’t tell you how absurd this is,’ he said. ‘We’ve been showing his movies for years. I have been paying him money every year.’ Still, let’s give the old booby the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Ken genuinely isn’t aware that nearly all his films have been distributed in Israel. (To read more, click here.)