Erovo­ca­teurÉs Ònal act is Òt­ting of crit­i­cal stance

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - PRO­FILE DAVID LAN he told the

AF­TER 17 years as the artis­tic di­rec­tor of the Young Vic the­atre in Water­loo, its Jewish artis­tic di­rec­tor, David Lan, has an­nounced he will be step­ping down.

But be­fore he does, he will be over­see­ing one fi­nal sea­son — which fea­tures an anti-Is­rael play fea­tur­ing promi­nently in the pro­gramme.

While not the most vo­cal Jewish critic of Is­rael in Bri­tain, Mr Lan has played a role in try­ing to ad­vance an anti-Is­rael nar­ra­tive in UK the­atre.

In 2015, he was a sig­na­tory to an Artists for Pales­tine let­ter to the Daily Mail, protest­ing against a piece it had run about a planned tour by a Pales­tinian the­atre com­pany of a play called The Siege.

The ti­tle was a ref­er­ence to the 2002 siege of the Church of the Na­tiv­ity in Bethlehem, when Pales­tinian gun­men took more than 200 Chris­tian clergy and civil­ians hostage, us­ing them as hu­man shields against the Is­raeli De­fence Forces, which had oc­cu­pied parts of the West Bank in an ef­fort to stop an avalanche of ter­ror at­tacks.

In the play’s nar­ra­tive, how­ever, the Pales­tinian gun­men are he­roes, and the Chris­tians in the church are not hostages, but sup­port­ing the fight­ers. The play also cel­e­brated ter­ror­ists who mur­dered Is­raeli civil­ians such as Avi Boaz, a pro-Pales­tinian peace ac­tivist.

The Artists for Pales­tine group’s let­ter ac­cused the Board of Deputies of be­ing “an or­gan­i­sa­tion with a shock­ing record of act­ing to sup­press both cul­tural and aca­demic events which ex­plore the bit­ter re­al­ity of Pales­tinian ex­is­tence”.

It also claimed that “Pales­tinian voices are in dan­ger of be­ing drowned out by a vo­cif­er­ous pro-Is­rael lobby that smears all Pales­tini­ans as ter­ror­ists and an­ti­semites”.

Born in Cape Town, Mr Lan was one of the first high-pro­file fig­ures to link Is­rael with apartheid-era South Africa.

In 2002, dis­cussing his de­ci­sion to stage a play called Alive from Pales­tine: Sto­ries un­der Oc­cu­pa­tion, In­de­pen­dent “the gov­ern­ment of Is­rael had a strat­egy which I recog­nised from my ex­pe­ri­ence in South Africa, which in­volves the de­struc­tion not only of the po­lit­i­cal en­tity

[of Pales­tine] but also the so­cial and cul­tural en­ti­ties, in or­der to­tally to de­mor­alise peo­ple, to de­stroy their in­tegrity as a cul­ture. Any­thing one can do to as­sist in re­sist­ing that, one wants to do”. Mr Lan, who moved to Lon­don in 1972, joined the Young Vic as artis­tic di­rec­tor in 2000, and played a key role in the the­atre’s ar­chi­tec­tural re­design. He has pro­duced more than 200 shows over the course of his ca­reer, and was awarded a CBE for ser­vices to the­atre in 2014.

He has a long-stand­ing as­so­ci­a­tion with Caryl Churchill, whose 2009 play, Seven Jewish Chil­dren, was con­demned by a num­ber of Bri­tish Jewish groups as be­ing an­ti­semitic. is Rachel Cor­rie Times


The Young Vic in Water­loo


David Lan

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