Is­raeli Play at Lincoln Cen­ter Sparks Protests from Artists

The Jewish Voice - - NEW YORK - BRye: p hMuen­nachem

“To The End of the Land,” an Is­raeli play at New York’s Lincoln Cen­ter, has sparked protests from over 60 writ­ers, direc­tors, ac­tors, and play­wrights, in­clud­ing Pulitzer Prize win­ners, who have added their sig­na­tures to a let­ter con­demn­ing the pro­duc­tion.

Run­ning at the Lincoln Cen­ter Fes­ti­val from July 24-27, “To The End of the Land” is pro­duced by Tel Aviv’s Cameri The­ater and the Ha’Bima Na­tional The­ater of Is­rael, and is backed by Is­rael’s Of­fice of Cul­tural Af­fairs in North Amer­ica. The Is­raeli gov­ern­ment’s sup­port of the play, adapted from a 2008 novel by Is­raeli au­thor David Gross­man, is os­ten­si­bly the rea­son for the out­rage, the New York Times noted in a July 5 re­port. The play fo­cuses on themes of war and grief, fol­low­ing an Is­raeli mother who flees to the coun­try­side to shield her­self from the pos­si­bil­ity that her son has been killed in ac­tion.

The let­ter protest­ing the play is spear­headed by Adalah-NY: The New York Cam­paign for the Boy­cott of Is­rael, which bills it­self on its web­site as a “grass roots, non-hi­er­ar­chal vol­un­teer­group of con­cerned in­di­vid­u­als for jus­tice, equal­ity, and hu­man rights for the Pales­tinian peo­ple.”

Adalah’s let­ter, ad­dressed to the Lincoln Cen­ter’s Chair­man of the Board Kather­ine Far­ley, and its pres­i­dent, Deb­o­rah L. Spar, said it is “deeply trou­bling that Lincoln Cen­ter, one of the world’s lead­ing cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions, is help­ing the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment its sys­tem­atic “Brand Is­rael” strat­egy of em­ploy­ing arts and cul­ture to di­vert at­ten­tion from the state's decades of vi­o­lent col­o­niza­tion, bru­tal mil­i­tary oc­cu­pa­tion and de­nial of ba­sic rights to the Pales­tinian peo­ple.”

“Brand Is­rael,” re­ferred to in the let­ter, is a pub­lic re­la­tions ini­tia­tive by the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment to present the coun­try in a pos­i­tive light. Launched in 2006, the pro­gram has drawn crit­i­cism from out­lets such as Mon­doweiss and No2BrandIs­rael, an or­ga­ni­za­tion sup­port­ing “the cul­tural boy­cott” of Is­rael.

Claim­ing that the Pales­tinian Na­tional The­ater in East Jerusalem “has been the tar­get of years of per­sis­tent ha­rass­ment and threats of clo­sure by the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment,” Adalah’s let­ter lamented that “the free­dom of move­ment of all Pales­tini­ans artists is fre­quently re­stricted by Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion au­thor­i­ties,

while Is­raeli artists travel the world freely.”

De­mands for the can­cel­la­tion of the play were re­jected by Spar, who said in a state­ment that, while the Lincoln Cen­ter has re­ceived com­plaints re­gard­ing plays and per­form­ers in the past, it is com­mit­ted to pre­sent­ing “a wide va­ri­ety of artis­tic voices and trust that the art we bring can stand on its own.”

Sig­na­to­ries of Adalah-NY’s let­ter in­clude Pink Floyd front­man Roger Wa­ters (a staunch critic of Is­rael), ac­tress Greta Ger­wig, di­rec­tor James Schamus, and nu­mer­ous oth­ers.

Run­ning at the Lincoln Cen­ter Fes­ti­val from July 24-27, “To The End of the Land” is pro­duced by Tel Aviv’s Cameri The­ater and the Ha’Bima Na­tional The­ater of Is­rael, and is backed by Is­rael’s Of­fice of Cul­tural Af­fairs in North Amer­ica

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