London: Films made by
veteran Hollywood director Steven Spielberg were banned by 14
Middle East countries after the "Jurassic Park" filmmaker donated
$1 million to Israel during the 2006 war with Lebanon, according
to a leaked US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.
A leaked dispatch from the US embassy in Damascus, Syria says 14
countries voted to ban the director's films in response to his
donation to Israel.
Israel and Lebanon were involved in a 34-day conflict that started
in July 2006, which led to the death of over 1,300 people.
Spielberg was blacklisted by the Arab League's Central Boycott
Office after a meeting of the group in April 2007.
Diplomats or representatives from 14 Arab states -- Algeria, Iraq,
Lebanon, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar,
Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
and Yemen -- had agreed to ban all films and other products
related to Spielberg or his Righteous Persons Foundation,
according to the leaked cable posted in the Guardian.
Malaysia, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia were also present at the
meeting and voted in favour of the boycott.
At the same meeting, cosmetics company Estee Lauder was added to
the blacklist while financial services company Merrill Lynch was
placed on a "watchlist".
The only Arab countries which did not attend the meeting were
those who signed separate peace accords with Israel, namely Egypt,
Mauritania and Jordan.
Marvin Levy, spokesman for Steven Spielberg, said: "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
Steven Spielberg set up the Righteous Persons Foundation in 1994.
Using his personal profits from the film "Schindler's List" and,
later, "Munich", the foundation is dedicated to helping create a
strong Jewish community in the US.