Festival and Israel deserve free speech

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Thank you for publishing this article about Hillary Clinton’s attempts to influence the Edinburgh Festival’s producers in 2009 (Your report, 8 August).

You quote Patrick Harvie MSP and co-convener of the Scottish Green Party at the time, as well as Ken Loach, film director.

Both these people gave their reasons for advocating a boycott of the Edinburgh International Film Festival’s showing of the Israeli film Surrogate, simply repeating the tired mantra of the “illegal occupation of Palestine” by Israel and “the treatment of its people”.

The Israeli government had committed the “crime” of donating £300 to Tali Shalom Ezer, graduate of Tel Aviv University to allow her to travel to Edinburgh for the screening of her film.

I’m just sorry that your editor hasn’t seen fit to explain to readers how wrong Patrick Harvie and Ken Loach were.

They simply spewed forth the so-called pro-Palestinian propaganda defaming Israel – propaganda whose sole purpose it is to delegitimise the only democracy in the Middle East desperately trying to keep an even keel amidst threats to destroy it.

The so-called “settlements” in Judea and Samaria are in no way illegal, given that they were liberated from Jordan in 1967 in a purely defensive war; I quote from the Levy Report of 2012, “However, Jordan’s annexation [of Judea & Samaria] was not accepted on any legal basis, and most Arab countries opposed it, until 1988 when Jordan renounced its claim to the ­territory.”

As for the treatment of today’s Palestinians, the Arab citizens who make up 20 per cent of Israel enjoy full democratic rights; more than 30,000 Arabs from the Palestinian Authority earn a decent living wage working in Israel; and Palestinians who need medical treatment are to be found in all Israel’s hospitals, often having life-threatening illnesses cured at no expense to them (and that includes members of Gaza’s hierarchy).

Please help to defend the Festival’s aim of free speech for all. Please defend the same freedom of our ally in the Middle East whose survival is vital to our Western values and whose contributions to our Western way of life is fundamental, yet grossly under-reported.

Flora Selwyn

North Castle Street St Andrews Fife

Speaking as one who spent a few months of 1999 in US during the Monica Lewinski scandal when we all were sympathetic with poor maligned Hillary, I am amazed at the song and dance over £300 provided by Israel to pay the fare of a film’s producer from Israel to Edinburgh and the coerced return of that money (Your report, 8 August).

Mrs Clinton may be powerful in the US. But in Scotland? She has not shown herself to be all that supportive of Israel either even with a Jewish son in law.

Surely there are far more important recent issues to explore, the young innocents killed by both sides, and own goals in the case of the 16-year-old girl stabbed while merely supporting friends at Jerusalem’s Gay Pride Parade. A paltry £300 has more relevance than people’s very lives.

Margaret E Salmond

Dunbar Street

Aberdeen

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