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Sunday, April 01, 2012

Deja vu all over again: BDS'ers trying to exclude HaBima from Shakespeare festival

Shakespeare's Globe Theater has a cute, multi-culti idea for this summer. They are having 37 theater companies from around the world each perform one of Shakespeare's 37 plays in their own language. One of the theater companies involved is Israel's HaBima, which is scheduled to perform The Merchant of Venice in Hebrew (of course, that's THE Shakespearean play around which the debate over whether Shakespeare was an anti-Semite centers. That's got the BDS'ers seething.
In a letter published in The Guardian newspaper Friday, actors, directors and authors such as Emma Thompson, Mike Leigh, David Calder, Trevor Griffiths and Miriam Margolyes, to name a few, called on Shakespeare's Globe Theater to take back the invitation "so the festival is not complicit with human rights violations and the illegal colonization of occupied land."

Habima Theater is set to perform a Hebrew rendition of William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice," as one of Shakespeare's 37 plays, which are to be performed at the festival in 37 different languages.

"We notice with dismay and regret that Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London has invited Israel's National Theatre, to perform The Merchant of Venice in its Globe to Globe festival this coming May," the letter read.

"The general manager of Habima has declared the invitation 'an honorable accomplishment for the State of Israel'. But Habima has a shameful record of involvement with illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian Territory."

The letter further read that "last year, two large Israeli settlements established "halls of culture" and asked Israeli theater groups to perform there. A number of Israeli theatre professionals – actors, stage directors, playwrights – declared they would not take part. By inviting Habima, Shakespeare's Globe is undermining the conscientious Israeli actors and playwrights who have refused to break international law."

Regarding the Hebrew language the artists wrote that "inclusiveness is a core value of arts policy in Britain, and we support it. But by inviting Habima, the Globe is associating itself with policies of exclusion practiced by the Israeli state and endorsed by its national theatre company. "

In regards to the letter, the Globe Theater management has decided to hold a discussion on theater and politics following the Habima performance at the festival.

Ilan Ronen, the artistic manager of Habima Theater told Ynet that "the letter is filled with halved truths. Habima Theater doesn't hold any political policies, and any attempt to present it in such a light just harms the artists."

"Habima Theater is a democratic and pluralistic theater. Some of the plays performed at our theater are controversial and some even criticize the Israeli society, including the government's policies in the settlements," he said.
I think the question that needs to be asked here is why Israel is being picked on (again). We all know why, but I think we need to level the playing field. A Turkish company is putting on Antony & Cleopatra. Turkey has occupied the northern third of Cyprus since 1974. The 112-mile green line that runs through downtown Nicosia to divide Cyprus makes Jerusalem look united in comparison. Why doesn't that production have a discussion of politics and theater afterward? Why is no one protesting Turkey's 'politics of exclusion'? Why aren't the British actors and directors concerned with that colonization?

A Russian company is putting on Measure for Measure in Russian. Russia won’t give up the southern Kurile Islands it took from Japan. Why is that occupation not being similarly protested?

Richard II is being performed by a 'Palestinian' company. Why is there no discussion of theater and politics after that play?

That's how this sort of thing needs to be attacked. The constant focus on Israel shows that what's really behind this is good old classical anti-Semitism.

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At 5:06 AM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

Pardon me, but re your references on Kurile Islands and Cyprus, we have actually taken nothing from anyone, unlike those two colonial venturists!
We are trying to get back our land stolen by their precious arabs! We have written many letters and emails to the Globe/RSC and like the vile cowardly dhimmis they are, they are caving to the nazis!! I have just found the following and will use that as a comparison:http://weaselzippers.us/2012/04/01/tunisian-salafists-attack-stage-actors-smash-instruments-during-world-theatre-day-event/


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