Israel using culture to mask brutality, say film-makers, journalists and artists

Cinema, media and cultural institutions should refuse to provide platforms for national celebrations sponsored by Israel, say signatories including Helena Kennedy, Maxine Peake and Juliet Stevenson

While large numbers of unarmed protesters in Gaza are killed or maimed with impunity by Israeli snipers (Report, 28 April), this week the Seret London Israeli Film and TV Festival, co-sponsored by the Israeli embassy and the World Zionist Organisation, will occupy venues in London, Brighton and Edinburgh. It will use the appeal of cinema to promote Israel as “a melting pot of cultures and religions”.

Israel deliberately and routinely denies media freedom to Palestinians. On 6 April, Palestinian cameraman Yaser Murtaja was killed by an Israeli sniper as he filmed the “Great March of Return” in Gaza. On the same day six other photojournalists wearing press jackets were injured by the Israeli military. Since then photographer Ahmed Abu Hussein has been shot dead. This is not an anomaly. Last year Israeli forces assaulted 139 journalists and detained a further 33. In 27 cases they destroyed or sabotaged equipment. They closed down 17 media outlets. Palestinian journalists and film-makers are thus victims of systematic persecution based on their ethnicity.

Art, media and culture are being employed to give an apparently acceptable face to a brutal reality. We, film-makers, journalists and artists, call on our cinema, media and cultural institutions to uphold basic ethical standards: they should refuse to provide platforms for national celebrations sponsored by a regime that is guilty of systematic and large-scale human rights violations.

Dr Bashir Abu Manneh Academic
Candace Allen Writer, director
Leah Borromeo Journalist and film-maker
Prof Haim Bresheeth Documentary film-maker
Victoria Brittain Author and journalist
Liam Cunningham Actor
Dror Dayan Documentary film-maker
Helen de Witt Film programmer
Tam Dean Burn Actor
Gareth Evans Curator, producer
Yasmin Fedda Film director
Simon Fisher Turner Composer
Maysaloun Hamoud Film director
Ashley Inglis Screenwriter
Aki Kaurismäki Film director
Peter Kennard Artist
Helena Kennedy QC Barrister, broadcaster
Michel Khleifi Film director
Peter Kosminsky Writer, director, producer
Paul Laverty Screenwriter
Mike Leigh Writer, director
Ken Loach Film director
Hettie Macdonald Film and television director
Miriam Margolyes Actor
Laura Mulvey Professor of film
Rebecca O’Brien Film producer
Andrew O’Hagan Writer
Maxine Peake Actor
Omar Qattan Film producer
William Raban Professor of film
David Roger Production designer
Juliet Stevenson Actor
Saeed Taji Farouky Documentary film-maker
Harriet Walter Actor
Roger Waters Musician
Susan Wooldridge Actor and writer