Stephen Frears and the Haifa Film Festival

To: Mr. Stepehen Frears
(Copies: Israeli and International Media)

Dear Stephen Frears,

We are a group of Israeli citizens and British citizens. We write this letter to you just a few days before your film, Tamara Drewe, will open the 26th Haifa International Film Festival, which will take place from September 23 – 30, 2010. Stills from the film are used to promote the festival on its official website: We are asking you to withdraw Tamara Drewe from the Haifa Festival in solidarity with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (

A broad coalition representing Palestinian civil society has called for an institutional cultural boycott of Israel, until it respects basic principles of human rights and international law. The Haifa Film Festival receives funding from Israeli government ministries, and any involvement in the event contributes to the normalization of military occupation and apartheid policies. In July 2009, Andy Bichlbaum & Mike Bonanno withdrew their film, ‘The Yes Men Fix the World’, from the Jerusalem Film Festival in solidarity with the BDS movement and issued a statement in which they made clear their rationale: “Whatever words are applied to such actions, our film mustn’t help lend an aura of normalcy to a state that makes these decisions. For us, that’s the bottom line. There is certainly another way to do things in Israel/Palestine, and that is what we must fight for, however feeble our means. As for our film, there is another way for it to be seen in Israel… and in Palestine, so that the people most in need of comic relief, who would never have been able to see it at the Jerusalem Film Festival anyhow, will be able to see it too.”

Among ongoing violations of international law committed by Israel are:

– The expropriation and colonization project in the West Bank

– The ongoing siege on Gaza
– Institutional discrimination towards Israel’s Palestinian citizens
– Refusal to recognise its responsibility for the ethnic cleansing (al-nakba) in 1948 and the Palestinians’ right of return

In recent years, you have issued unequivocal and precise statements criticizing Israel’s grave violations of human rights. In 2007, the Hoping Foundation organized your trip to Balata and Qalandia refugee camps in occupied Palestinian territory. In response you are quoted as saying that the trip changed your life: “Until I saw it with my own eyes, I did not fully understand what occupation meant. Going to Palestine changed my life. I was so shocked by what I saw and so impressed by the children I met in Balata camp, who somehow, against all adversity, remained positive and hopeful about the future”. We would also like to quote a recent statement by Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack: “I can’t play in Israel when the Palestinians have no access to the same fundamental benefits that the Israelis do”. In the same vein, we would like to emphasize that Palestinians living under Israel’s occupation in the West Bank and Gaza strip will not be allowed to enjoy your film at the Haifa Film Festival. Please postpone your participation in cinematic events in Israel until the day when this gross injustice comes to an end.


Ronnie Barkan
Ronnen Ben-Arie
Naama Farjoun
Ohal Grietzer
Iris Hefets
Eleanor Kilroy
Gal Lugassi
Ofer Neiman
David Nir
Itai Ryb
Jonatan Stanczak

on behalf of
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from within

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