Ken Loach and the media beatup

The media has outdone itself this time, with the story of Ken Loach and his boycotting of the Melbourne Film Festival.

It is easy to mock his actions when one looks at them in isolation. A paltry sum of money. A cute Israeli film. Artists aren’t the State. Sophisticated shaking of heads at Loach’s behaviour. But it is meaningless to look at Loach’s actions in isolation. He decided to join a coalition of artists standing against the State of Israel’s treatment of Palestine. Artists of the world support Palestinian artists.

You may or may not agree that such a coalition should exist and behave in this way, but to mock one man’s implementation of his support of this coalition is ignorant and bigoted. It demeans not Ken Loach, but the whole idea of artists around the world caring what happens to the Palestinians.

Equally to decry the quantity of the action being objected to – it was only a few hundred dollars, perhaps it would have been acceptable for him to boycott…what, a few thousand? A few million? – is to demean the principles involved.

As for the notion expressed here and there, that we must distinguish between the Israeli people and the State – that simply isn’t so. It is a democracy. The State is of them, by them, for them.

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