WASHINGTON – Steven Spielberg was blacklisted by the Arab League's Central Boycott Office after making a $1 million donation to Israel during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, a US embassy memo released by WikiLeaks revealed.
The cable, sent by the American embassy in Damascus to Washington, showed that during a meeting of the Boycott Office in April 2007, diplomats or representatives from 14 Arab states voted to boycott all movies and other products associated with Spielberg or the Righteous Persons Foundation, which he founded in 1994 following the release of Schindler's List.
At the confidential US briefing, the head of the Syrian regional office for the boycott of Israel, Muhammad al-Ajami, said that Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen had agreed to ban all of the famous director's works.
Malaysia, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia also took part in the meeting and voted in favor of the ban, the cable revealed.
The only Arab states which did not attend the meeting were those who have signed separate peace agreements with Israel, namely, Egypt, Mauritania and Jordan. Djibouti and Somalia did not participate in the meeting either.
Chris Doyle at the Council for Arab-British Understanding told the Guardian that the boycott was an "understandable" response to Spielberg's donation.
"It would be consistent with other decisions in the past over boycotting both companies and people who have done something equivalent," he was quoted by the British newspaper as saying. "The donation would have been seen as hypocritical, given the ethical stance Steven Spielberg has taken on other issues including Darfur, and would have caused a lot of anger.
"The depiction of Arabs in Raiders of the Lost Ark was very poor, cartoon-like and full of the usual stereotypes," Doyle added. "In a broader context, this applies to so many Hollywood films where Arabs for decades have been ludicrously depicted."
Spielberg's spokesman, Marvin Levy, told the Guardian, "While we can't comment on a leaked cable, we know that the films and DVDs have been sold globally in the normal distribution through all this time."
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