'Arab League banned Spielberg's works over donation to Israel during Lebanon conflict'

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Colombo, Dec 18 (ANI): Hollywood film director Steven Spielberg was blacklisted by the Arab League's Central Boycott Office after making a million dollar donation to Israel during the 2006 conflict in Lebanon, according to secret US diplomatic cables released by the whistleblower website 'Wikileaks'.

The Guardian quoted the cables as saying that during a meeting of the group in April 2007, diplomats or representatives from 14 Arab states voted to ban all films and other products related to Spielberg or his Righteous Persons Foundation.

Muhammad al-Ajami, the head of the Syrian regional office for the boycott of Israel, had reportedly said at a confidential US briefing that Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen had agreed to ban all Spielberg's works.

Malaysia, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia were also present at the meeting and voted in favour of the boycott, the cables said.

The paper quoted a memo from the US embassy in Damascus to Washington as saying that "they and other countries will likely implement their own bans" similar to that adopted by the Arab states.

However Marvin Levy, spokesman for Steven Spielberg, said that the films and DVDs have been sold globally in the normal distribution through all this time.

Chris Doyle, at the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said the boycott was an "understandable" reaction to Spielberg's donation.It would be consistent with other decisions in the past over boycotting both companies and people who have done something equivalent. The donation would have been seen as hypocritical, given the ethical stance Steven Spielberg has taken on other issues including Darfur, and would have caused a lot of anger," he added. (ANI)

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