After Israel’s leading theater companies announced they would appear for the first time in an Israeli settlement, 40 Israeli actors, directors and producers signed a statement refusing to perform. They were to grace the boards of a new center for the arts, performing some of the treasures of the world canon (among them Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle) for the good burghers of Ariel, known to its boosters as the “capital of Samaria.”
The artists’ statement said:
“We express contempt regarding the intent of the managements of theater companies to appear at Ariel’s new hall. We will refuse to appear in Ariel and in any other settlement. We call upon the management to restrict their theatrical activity to the sovereign borders of the State of Israel.”
The response from the Yesha Council has been furious:
“Our response to the letter signed by a group of military refusers, and left-wing anti-Zionist activists will be most sharp. This hate-filled letter which showers contempt on the best of the children of the nation, those who protect them while they act on stage, demands a direct, sharp and clear response from the management of the companies and we expect this. We will announce further steps in the coming days.”
The battle is joined. One claim in the settler response is worth challenging: that the settlers protect the lives of Israelis within the Green Line. Of course, just the opposite is the case. It is the IDF which sends thousands of troops and spends hundreds of millions of dollars protecting the settlers, and not the other way around. These settlers are the most provocative thorn in the side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They cause unending grief to Israel and prevent it from reaching a resolution of the conflict. And these are the people who claim that it is THEY who are doing favors for Israel. The nerve, the sheer nerve.
This is one boycott I’m in favor of 110%. And it shouldn’t be a controversial one since Israeli theater companies till now had never performed in the settlements. So the actors are merely asking to return to status quo ante. Kol ha-kavod to Israel’s acting community for taking a moral stand. Now let’s hear from the company management that they’ve heard their public and will accede to the wishes of their performers and home audiences.