BERLIN – A film director who backs boycotting Israeli artists is to receive the highest honorary award at the International Film Festival in Berlin.

Jewish leaders in Germany have reacted with dismay to the decision to award an honorary Golden Bear to Ken Loach, British director of such films as “My Name Is Joe” (1998) and “Bread And Roses” (2000). He is set to receive the award on Thursday.

Festival director Dieter Kosslick said in a statement on the festival’s website that he admires Loach for his “profound interest in people and their individual fates, as well as his critical commitment to society.”

In a recent interview with Berlin’s Tagesspiegel newspaper, Loach was asked why he supported boycotting Israel. He responded that “Israel presents itself as a western democracy… and at the same time breaks international agreements, fails to uphold the Geneva Convention, takes land to which it has no right, throws children in prison and lies to the world about its nuclear weapons.”

Loach said he supported an academic and cultural boycott because “it’s the only thing we can do” to accomplish what “neither the UN nor Obama has managed to do,” to get Israel to give up what he called occupied land.


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