HABIMA BOY­COTTERS: WE ARE NOT PICK­ING ON IS­RAEL BE­CAUSE IT IS JEWISH

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment -

HOW sad that Sir Arnold Wesker, Steven Berkoff and Mau­reen Lip­man should sug­gest that chal­leng­ing the Is­raeli na­tional theatre’s fit­ness to take part in the Globe Shake­speare fes­ti­val is “tan­ta­mount to Nazi-era book-burn­ing” ( Theatre ban ‘like Nazi book burn­ing’ say West End stars, April 4).

Can they re­ally have in­tended to cast this Nazi slur at Mark Ry­lance, Emma Thompson and the many oth­ers who be­lieve that theatre should up­hold re­sis­tance to in­jus­tice, rather than pre­tend op­po­si­tion to Is­rael’s poli­cies while con­tin­u­ing busi­ness as usual with an un­just state? Doesn’t that cheap in­sult de­mean them rather than us? Our call on the Globe to with­draw their in­vi­ta­tion to Habima ex­plic­itly tar­gets an in­sti­tu­tion that does the state’s bid­ding by per­form­ing for Is­raelis il­le­gally set­tled on oc­cu­pied Pales­tinian ter­ri­tory. Habima is di­rectly com­plicit in hu­man rights abuses, and we think our pro­fes­sion has a re­spon­si­bil­ity, if not a duty, to speak up on the mat­ter.

We are not tar­get­ing in­di­vid­ual ac­tors, di­rec­tors or au­thors, nor the con­tent of their work, and have no in­ten­tion of do­ing so. We are not pick­ing on Is­rael be­cause it is Jewish, as Berkoff and Lip­man al­lege. We are re­spond­ing to a Pales­tinian call to in­sist that Is­rael lives up to the civilised stan­dards it claims to up­hold. In the process, we are cel­e­brat­ing and en­dors­ing those brave Is­raelis who have re­fused to work in the il­le­gal set­tle­ments. Niall Buggy, ac­tor; David Calder, ac­tor; Caryl Churchill, play­wright; Michael Dar­low, writer; John Gra­ham Davies, ac­tor; Trevor Grif­fiths, play­wright; James Ivens, artis­tic di­rec­tor, Flood Theatre; Roger Lloyd Pack, ac­tor; Miriam Mar­golyes, ac­tor; Alexei Sayle, co­me­dian; Hi­lary West­lake, di­rec­tor; Su­san Wooldridge, ac­tor; Andy de la Tour, ac­tor

SO a group of Bri­tish ac­tors, di­rec­tors and writ­ers have called for a boy­cott of Is­rael’s Habima Na­tional Theatre on the ba­sis that they have per­formed in ‘set­tle­ments’ in ‘oc­cu­pied’ ter­ri­to­ries, and there­fore we in London must not be ‘com­plicit’ in these hu­man rights abuses.

On this ba­sis, what are we to do about ath­letes com­ing to take part in the Olympics? Most coun­tries can be ac­cused of hu­man rights abuses, in­clud­ing those where con­ver­sion away from Is­lam can lead to cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. Who will de­cide which are banned? Joseph Feld joe@the­felds.co.uk

Would Emma Thompson and her fel­low boy­cotters boy­cott a Pales­tinian Ara­bic or a Chi­nese theatre for hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, notably in Gaza and Ti­bet? Are ac­tors re­spon­si­ble for the poli­cies of their gov­ern­ments? Is she re­spon­si­ble for the poli­cies, stupid or oth­er­wise, of the cur­rent Bri­tish Gov­ern­ment? No, I thought not.

To boy­cott only an Is­raeli theatre group out of 37 for­eign lan­guage ones is dis­crim­i­na­tion of the worst kind, akin to an­tisemitism. It is a good ex­am­ple of what can only be called “lib­eral fas­cism,” —the wellinten­tioned sup­port­ing the evil­in­ten­tioned for du­bi­ous rea­sons. set­tle­ments in Pales­tinian ter­ri­tory.” Jack Co­hen Ne­tanya Is­rael

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