The Board of Deputies has criticised an anti-racism educational charity for standing by its “shameful” decision to invite the filmmaker Ken Loach to judge a school competition.
The director, best known for his 1969 drama Kes, will judge designs inspired by the theme of anti-racism together with the Jewish children’s author Michael Rosen for an annual contest run by Show Racism the Red Card – despite concerns from Jewish leaders.
Show Racism the Red Card said it had upheld its invitation to Loach in a statement on its website on Thursday.
The leading charity noted “kind” messages of support from the public and “many prominent figures in academia, the arts, education, law, media, politics, science and sport” and said it had “taken time to reflect and listen” to concerns.
Describing Loach as a long-standing supporter, the charity said it previously gave the filmmaker a Hall of Fame award for his work with them spanning two decades.
A tweet from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign described Loach on Thursday as a “lifelong campaigner against racism and injustice, including the oppression of the Palestinian people, and … exactly the right person to be judging this competition.”
But Amanda Bowman, vice president of the Board of Deputies, warned on Thursday the Jewish community will “no longer have any confidence in Show Racism the Red Card’s trustees, its CEO, or their ability to show antisemitism the red card.”
“That a so-called anti-racist charity would ignore a minority community’s concerns about racism, is both astounding and shameful,” she said.
The Jewish group had urged the charity last month to remove Loach from the competition’s panel due to past comments about the row over antisemitism in the Labour Party.
Loach drew controversy in the spring of 2018 when he called on the Labour Party to suspend MPs who appeared at the Enough is Enough rally against antisemitism outside Parliament.
Among other concerns, the Board of Deputies criticised Loach’s 1987 production of Jim Allen’s controversial play Perdition, saying it was seen as “wildly inaccurate by leading historians and … grossly antisemitic by many in the Jewish community.”
The production of the play alleging some Zionist leaders collaborated with the Nazis was cancelled by the Royal Court – a decision Loach later described as a “censorship.”
Show Racism the Red Card was founded in 1996 with funding donated by the former Newcastle United goalkeeper Shaka Hislop. It delivers workshops in schools, offices and football stadiums.
Its annual schools’ competition launched in 1998 drew entries from 27,000 children in 474 schools across the country last year, according to the charity.
Ken Loach and Show Racism the Red Card were approached for comment.