In an open letter to Ken Loach, Israeli director Tali Shalom Ezer accused the British filmmaker of racism and censorship, following his call for boycott of the Edinburgh International Film Festival over an Israeli grant.
Loach and several pro-Palestinian groups demanded that the festival return a 300 pound grant from the Israeli embassy in Britain that was meant to partly cover Shlaom Ezer's participation in the festival with her film, '"Surrogate."
In her letter, parts of which were published by the Sunday Times, Shalom Ezer wrote: "“Every time a nation is subjected to a cultural boycott — be it a film or a lecture by an Israeli professor abroad — there is a tendency amongst its subjects to draw closer to more nationalistic elements; every time this happens, peace is farther away.
“If ‘dirty’ money from every country engaging in violence is denied, then many countries will be expelled from the international discourse,” she added.
The Israeli director further stated that calls for boycott only weaken the Israeli peace camp, and called Loach a hypocrite, saying that, "In Israel, as in many other countries, the large part of funding for films comes from the government… one cannot really watch Israeli cinema and at the same time denounce Israeli money."
Shalom Ezer concluded her letter by inviting Loach to the movie's premiere at the festival, and by this to demonstrate that despite his opposition to Israel's policies he is a true believer in the power of art and individuals to bring about change.
However Loach, in a response published by the Times, said artists should not accept financial aid from the Israeli state and described his critics as “right-wing extremists”.
“How is she being censored? The film festival are paying for her to go, she’s coming to the festival," he added.