With only a few days remaining before the first theatrical performance at the new Ariel cultural center, leading Israeli intellectuals, artists and cultural figures have renewed their appeal (and in English) to Israeli theater actors to boycott the settlement.
Among those leading the campaign are several Israel Prize (the equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize) winners David Grossman, actress Hanah Meron, playwright Yehoshua Sobol, choreographer Ehud Naharin, Oded Cutler, Liora Rivlin and other notable figures who wrote in an open letter to them:
It is impossible to force you to perform. We call on you to make a choice on behalf of the command of conscience and communal responsibility.
Maariv notes that the letter aims to bolster the will of the performers and encourage them if they make the decision to refuse. Many of the signatories are iconic figures in Israeli cultural life who are interested in conveying a loud and clear message to the actors that they are not alone in this campaign. On the other hand, the letter writers also seek to remind the actors that if they do appear the decision and its consequences are theirs alone and responsibility cannot be diverted to their companies or producers. In words that seem to echo those used by German civilians during the Holocaust to absolve themselves of responsibility, boycott advocates said:
After publication of this letter no one will be able to say he didn’t know or didn’t understand the meaning of what was happening…Ariel is no town within Israel.
The letter warns in no uncertain terms:
Dear Actors: You are about to appear at a cultural center in the settlement of Ariel built on conquered territory. At a distance of only a few kilometers from the flourishing Ariel, are Palestinian refugee camps whose residents experience hard living conditions without basic human rights. Not only are they not able to enjoy performances and similar cultural events, many don’t even enjoy running water. These are two separate realities which create a policy of apartheid.