UK director Mike Leigh has pulled out of a forthcoming educational trip to Israel due to his concern over the Israeli government’s policies including the proposed loyalty oath bill.
Leigh was due to visit the country on Nov 20 to give a workshop to students at the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem as part of its “great masters” programme.
In a letter to the film school’s founding director Renen Schorr, Leigh cited several of Israel’s policies to explain his cancellation, including the “ongoing criminal blockade of Gaza,” and the “attack on the flotilla” as well as “the endless shooting of innocent people there.”
He described the loyalty oath bill, which was passed by Israel’s cabinet last week and would require non Jews seeking Israeli citizenship to pledge allegiance to Israel as a “Jewish and democtratic state”, as the “last straw.”
“As you know, I have always had serious misgivings about coming, but I allowed myself to be persuaded by your sincerity and your commitment,” Leigh wrote to Schorr.
“I am especially sorry to have to let you down. But I have absolutely no choice. I cannot come, I do not want to come, and I am not coming,” added Leigh.
Schorr said he was “greatly saddened by Leigh’s cancellation.”
“While the political situation is isolating us more and more in the international arena, I shall continue attempting to bring the greatest international cinema personalities to Israel,” he added.