A group of Israeli actors, directors and playwrights have signed a letter to the management of six Israeli theatres announcing their refusal to participate in stage productions in a new performing arts centre in a West Bank settlement. The signatories have asked theatre managers to restrict their activity to stages within the internationally accepted 1967 borders.
More than 60 have joined the protest over plans by Israel’s national theatre, the Habima, and other leading companies to stage performances in Ariel, a settlement 12 miles inside the West Bank. The letter, to Israel’s culture minister, Limor Livnat, says the new centre for performing arts in Ariel, which is due to open in November after 20 years in construction, would “strengthen the settlement enterprise”.
“We want to express our dismay with the intention of the theatres’ managements to perform in the new auditorium in Ariel and hereby declare that we will refuse to perform in the city, as in any other settlement.” Israel’s theatre companies should “pursue their prolific activity inside the sovereign territory of the state of Israel within the boundaries of the Green Line”. (The Guardian)
After news of actors’ protest became public, hundreds have gathered at Tel Aviv’s Habima Theatre in support of the boycott. The sentiment of those opposed to performing in the new centre were eloquently summarized by actor Yousef Swaid, who explained his position to Israeli television: “Settlers and settlements are not something that entertain me, and I don’t want to entertain them.”