Open letter to the UK Jewish Film Festival about Ahava’s sponsorship
UK Jewish Film Festival
5.09 Clerkenwell Workshops
27-31 Clerkenwell Close
London EC1R 0AT
28 October 2010
The success and growth of the UK Jewish Film Festival is truly something to be celebrated. As an unrivalled showcase for works by Jewish film makers and on Jewish themes, we wish the festival every success. At the same time, we wish to express our profound concern that this Festival has chosen to accept sponsorship from Ahava, an enterprise that operates in the Israeli kibbutz Matzpe Shalem, within occupied Palestinian territory.
Settlement by the occupier’s citizens in occupied territory is illegal under the Geneva convention of 1949. The UK government rightly considers all settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal. The Ahava manufacturing plant is within occupied Palestinian territory. The settlers have neither sought nor received permission from the Palestinian Authority to operate there. They pay no taxes to the Authority. However they extract the natural resources of the Dead Sea for Israeli profit. Knowing it is in the wrong, Ahava dishonestly markets its products, against Defra guidance, as ‘Made in Israel.’
So it was with great surprise that we discovered a festival of such prestige as the UKJFF accepting sponsorship from Ahava. Ahava’s motives are clear: it has much to gain. Its sponsorship of the UKJFF provides cover for its illegality. But partnership with Ahava undermines the excellent work of the Festival.
Art is to be celebrated as the free expression of the human spirit. Our concern is very specific: Ahava’s operations in the occupied West Bank constitute an enterprise that contributes directly to the limitation of that same freedom of expression for the Palestinian people. As such, it sits in direct opposition to what the Festival stands for. We urge the Directors, even at this late stage, to reject this tainted sponsorship.
Diana Neslen – Secretary, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
And JfJfP signatories in film and theatre:
David Aukin, Simon Block, Prof Haim Bresheeth, Mark Forstater, David Freedman, Tony Graham, Miriam Karlin OBE, Mike Leigh, Sonja Linden, Miriam Margolyes OBE, Dr Jonathan Miller, Gillian Slovo, Jennie Stoller, Janet Suzman, Zoë Wanamaker CBE. Late additions: Uri Fruchtman, Alexei Sayle
cc Michael Etherton, Festival Producer
David Kustow, Festival Chair