HABIMA, GUNTER GRASS AND BONKERS BOYCOTTS
I note the sadly depleted signaturists in the defence of further persecution of the Habima company ( Letters, April 13). Have the Aukins, Thompsons and Leighs moved their outrage on to Syria or the Sudan?
What is left is a collection of members of the PSC and the Socialist Workers Party who might consider explaining to other mystified artists why they want to ban an Israeli company for playing to a settlement audience but are happy to watch Zimbabwean actors from a country which suppresses all opposition and starves its people. Come on Miriam [Margolyes], you’re not short of a loud opinion, you must have an answer to allowing China to play at the Globe but not the only democracy in the Middle East. The Jewish community waits with oftbaited breath. Maureen Lipman London
The Habima boycotters do protest too much, methinks. They accuse the Israeli theatre of being “complicit in human rights abuses” because it performs in the settlements.
What then will they make of my milkman’s delivery round, which includes the Conservative Party’s constituency office, the Socialist Workers’ Collective, a BP oil refinery and the local branch of Green Peace? Does my milkman support the aims of all or indeed any one of these? I doubt it.
For Habima, performing in the settlements is not a political statement; it’s just another gig. When will the boycotters grasp the essential truth that artistic freedom is universal and indivisible? You either support it for everybody 100 per cent — or you don’t believe in it at all.
So Norman Lebrecht is right to lambast Israel for banning entry to Gunter Grass ( Banning him is a big error, April 13). The correct response is to invite Grass to Israel in the hope that he will eventually regret, recant and repent. An artistic boycott of other artists is not just bigotry. It’s bonkers. Selwyn Dorfman Hollow Oak Lane, Cheshire, CW8
I suppose it may be taken as a compliment that people expect a Jewish state should behave so much better than any other state; even up to the point of allowing itself to be destroyed for what others see as a greater good. Alas, it is a state like any other; a mixture of good and bad, intelligence and stupidity. JM Levy Eldred Road, Liverpool, L16
I assume Emma Thompson and her colleagues will be adhering to their principles and be boycotting the newly developed anti-cancer vaccine developed by researchers at Tel Aviv University. This, not matter how much it will benefit mankind in the future. Irving A Goldstein email@example.com
Instead of simply condemning Gunter Grass, the Interior Ministry should have invited him to debate his wacky Middle Eastern thesis in Israel. Is Grass’s status as persona non grata that different to British actors wishing to ban Habima from the Globe? Stan Labovitch Vale Road, Windsor, SL4
Norman Lebrecht suggests that Israel’s decision to ban Grass “undermines Israel’s free speech principles”. I beg to differ. Free speech requires a basic respect of one’s interlocutor. Grass’s former membership of the Waffen SS is itself sufficient to question whether this exists. On top of that Grass has accused Israel of planning a nuclear attack on Iran and suggested that Israel is a threat to world peace.
To suggest Israel is a threat to peace for defending itself from a deranged leader who wishes it erased from the map is possibly the most egregious moral inversion imaginable. It is perfectly intellectually honest to defend the decision to ban Grass and to attack the cultural terrorists who sabotage Israeli cultural events in London. Lebrecht — who argues the opposite — is drawing a false moral equivalence. Jonathan Hoffman Jonathan.firstname.lastname@example.org