Ken Loach: honoured and pilloried

This post should celebrate Ken Loach receiving an Honorary Doctorate from the Université Libre de Bruxelles. I am not really sure what purpose Honorary Doctorates serve but I do admire Ken Loach’s film output and I am happy to see it celebrated. But this event has become clouded because of charges of anti-semitism against the filmmaker. Of course he is in good company: a host of committed supporters of the Palestinian National Liberation Struggle have been subjected to this type of smear.

It appears for some media, including the Guardian newspapers, The Tablet weekly and the BBC, are happy to offer space to a dubious campaign protecting Israel from criticisms.

The Guardian has printed a number of articles about the problem of so-called ‘anti-semitism’ in the Labour Party and the BBC regularly reports on the issue. Yet I have yet to see a report in the paper or hear on the radio a report about the Al Jazeera series that exposed collusion between staff at the Israeli Embassy and the Labour Friends of Israel, The Lobby.

It seems that Ken wrote a riposte to one of his accusers, Jonathan Freedland, but that the Guardian declined to print it. The Jewish Voice for Labour has kindly done a service by publishing it online.

It is ironic that the problem is usually that it is the right-wing film critics who attack Ken’s films. Those on The Wind that Shakes the Barley were prime examples. Now we have critics, supposedly liberal or left, attacking him. We had an example of the failure of Zionist supporters to argue about the actual words, images and meanings when I posted on Waltz with Bashir. There was a series of critical comment on my article but we never actually heard anything from the writer on the actual film.

There is a long tradition of vilifying artists and writers who support resistance to oppression. We still await a film version of Trevor Griffith’s study of one great advocate, Tom Paine. Nearer our own times Jean-Luc Godard was among a number of French artists pilloried for criticising the French settler occupation in Algiers, Le petit soldat. Daniel Ellsberg was labelled the ‘most dangerous man in America’ by Henry Kissinger. The misuse of ‘anti-American’ for criticising US foreign policy parallels the misuse of anti-semitism.

Such critics would be better occupied critically viewing video film of Palestinian unarmed civilians shot in the back outside the borders of Israel.

Advertisements

4 comments

  1. Ruth Baumberg

    What an intemperate rant! Antisemitic – conspiracy theories, holocaust equivocation, etc. Wake up and look at some genuine history This is not about Israel; it is about antisemitism ensconced in the British Left. I despair about politics in the UK – antisemitism on the left, racism against black immigrants on the right.

  2. keith1942

    This comment seems typical of Zionists or their fellow-travellers. M/s Baumberg should check the meaning of ‘rant’ before misusing it. Some of the synonyms give a sense of the word:
    “diatribe, harangue, tirade, …..’
    She makes no mention of Ken Loach himself, nor of the debates around the Labour Party. Nor is there any reference to the excellent Al Jazeera ‘Investigation’, which I assume she has not watched. This would provide her with some relevant information. As would the excellent series on ‘Al Nakba’ or the footage screened in the channel’s ‘news hour’ showing the Israeli Defence Force shooting unarmed civilians.
    I wonder if she has watched any of the fine Palestinian films on the occupation of their homeland. There is Elia Suleiman’s excellent historical study ‘The Time That Remains’ (2009); the film record of Palestinian resistance, ‘Five Broken Cameras’ (2012); and a drama depicting the brutal treatment of Palestinian women imprisoned by the Israeli’s for resistance, ‘3000 Nights’ / ‘300 Layal’ / ‘3000 Layla’, (2015).
    Fortunately supporters of the Palestinian struggle [among other activities] organise screenings of these films. We are promised another Leeds Palestinian Film Festival late in 2018. An opportunity to be properly informed on this anti-colonial struggle for which Britain bears the primary responsibility.
    see https://itpworld.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/al-nakba/ for ‘Al Nakba’; https://thirdcinema.wordpress.com/2018/01/05/three-features-by-elia-suleiman/ for ‘The Time That Remains’; https://itpworld.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/five-broken-cameras-palestineisraelfrancenetherlands-2012/ for ‘Five Broken Cameras’; https://thirdcinema.wordpress.com/2017/03/09/3000-nights-300-layal-3000-layla-palestine-france-jordan-lebanon-qatar-united-arab-emirates-2015/ for ‘3000 Nights’; and https://itpworld.wordpress.com/2017/11/09/leeds-palestinian-film-festival-2017/ for last year’s Leeds Palestinian Film Festival.

  3. Ruth Baumberg

    Well! Zionist as a term of abuse! – I wasn’t talking about Israel and I did indeed make reference to the Labour party, though it sounds as if you are well to the left with your neo-marxist colonialist analysis. There are plenty of other films giving a different view, in particular, have you seen “In Between” – an excellent Palestinian directed film from 2017 made in Israel about 3 flatmates in Tel Aviv.
    Ken Loach, though I like most of his films – Daniel Blake in particular – has indeed got a reputation as an antisemite as does that embarrassment to the Labour party Ken Livingstone. And antisemitism does exist in the Labour left without reference to Israel/Palestine and has done for many years. Just ask any of the Jewish Labour women MPs – Louise Ellman, Ruth Smeeth, Luciana Berger, Margaret Hodge, etc

    I wouldn’t use Al-Jazeera as an independent voice as it is a partisan view. You might like to listen to Simon Schama this morning on Radio 4 on Israel at 70 for a balanced view.

    • Roy Stafford

      In Between was reviewed on this blog – https://itpworld.wordpress.com/tag/israeli-cinema/ – which has discussed several significant Israeli films. The main contributors to the blog have long experience of anti-racist work as teachers. We are interested in exploring all forms of resistance to colonialist actions which include the actions of the Israeli state in its illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. In that we are supported by many Jewish Israeli citizens. Smearing campaigners against the colonial actions of the Israeli state, like the filmmaker Ken Loach, is completely unacceptable.

      This is not a blog to discuss the inner workings of the Labour Party in the UK.

      As a film and media educationist I don’t see a major difference between the BBC, the Guardian and Al Jazeera. All are partisan commentators, just as we are.

      This discussion is now closed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.