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Ken Loach Calls for Boycott of Cultural Events Backed by Israeli State

British filmmaker Ken Loach has called for a boycott of cultural events backed by the Israeli government at an event at the Sarajevo Film Festival.

Loach made his remarks at the presentation Thursday of the Katrin Cartlidge Foundation Award, which went to two filmmakers from Gaza, Abdel Salam Shehadeh and Ashraf Mashharawi. Shehadeh was unable to attend the festival due to the airstrikes in Gaza, Loach said. Mashharawi was at the festival, but said that he wouldn’t be able to return to Gaza until the violence ended.

“I can’t go back now because of the bombing and because of the closed border. I have to wait, but I know it is also our duty to come here and bring these voices of victims — they chase you,” he told Reuters.

“We need these filmmakers to tell these stories because they are absolutely central to our understanding of the conflict,” Loach said at the ceremony.

Loach compared the situation of the people of Gaza with that of Sarajevo’s residents while the city was under siege for four-years in the 1990s.

He condemned the support given to Israel by the U.S. and the U.K., and called on a boycott of sporting, entertainment and cultural events that were supported by the Israeli state.

It is not the first time that Loach has spoken out on the issue of Gaza. In July he criticized the BBC for failing to give the “Palestinian perspective” in its coverage of the conflict with Israel, and earlier last month Loach was one of those who delivered a petition to David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, calling for an arms embargo on Israel.

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