I’m augmenting my original op-ed piece of last week in an effort to better characterize my experience of coming to support the protesting Israeli artists refusing to perform at the Ariel Cultural Center, while better explaining my decision not to sign the letter of support signed by hundreds of American actors and writers in a campaign sponsored by the American group Jewish Voice for Peace.
It is the right of Israeli artists to choose how and where they wish their work to be presented. The protesting artists’ decision not to perform deep in the West Bank is a principled political stand made by patriotic Israelis within Israel, fighting for the geographical and demographic integrity of their land and protesting the government’s attempt to use them as political pawns, scheduling them against their will to perform in a newly constructed art house in a hitherto illegal settlement.
I thought I could sit this one out; not post links from Haaretz on my facebook page; avoid the emails asking my opinion about the artist boycott of the Ariel Cultural Arts Center in the West Bank; not personally take a stand, lest I risk the wrath of segments of our deeply divided Jewish community, a portion of which surely sides with the Israeli Minister of Culture, Education and Sport who vilified the protesting artists, and with a few members of Knesset who assailed the artists as “treasonous” and “anti-Zionist.” Certainly, I know over a dozen on the list of sixty protesters to be among the most talented, thoughtful and humane Israeli Zionists in the land, a good number of whom have shared their talents with audiences in DC and been resident artists with us at Theater J. But this was an acrimonious fight within Israel, among Israelis.