In a speech at the solidarity demonstration with the actors who refuse to perform in Ariel, an Israeli colony in the West Bank, Israeli playwright Joshua Sobol revealed that the government’s contribution to Israeli theater is 10%. He added that the theater companies could survive without that piddling sum.
Perhaps Limor Livnat and the others were unaware of this when they threatened to cut off funding (item 1). The new criteria for funding are striking, since they would seem to allow (albeit unintentionally) for theater companies to perform in Ramalla no less than in Ariel.
One response to the present government’s kind of thinking is Gideon Eshet’s argument in item 2 that boycotts are not only legitimate, but are also a means that are decidedly Jewish. While Eshet applies the principle only to the actors’ boycott, it obviously holds for all applications.
While on the subject of boycotts, please do not make the mistake of thinking that bds is less necessary now that there are so-called peace talks. Israel has been talking peace with Palestinians since Madrid (1991) and has used the talks—that is to say, all eyes being on the talks—to expand. Now, more than ever, bds is needed in large quantities to pressure Israel’s leaders to make peace. I doubt that it will happen even with increase in bds, unless that increase is substantial. But if ever there was a time to pressure Israel’s government, it is now!
Items 3 and 4 are brief videos, which I speak of later. Item 6 is an action request to stop Israel’s abuse of Palestinian children.
All the best,
1. Haaretz Friday,
September 03, 2010
Minister plans new rules to stymie boycotting actors
Almost all members of the Knesset Culture Committee support the move to cut funds to artists who refuse to perform in the West Bank.
By Jonathan Lis
Culture Minister Limor Livnat intends to revise the criteria for state funding for theaters in a way that would bar actors from refusing to perform in certain locations.
The move, announced yesterday, came after several dozen actors signed a letter saying they would not play the new cultural center in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.
Livnat, addressing some of the signatories at a special meeting of the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee, threatened to begin applying political considerations when choosing which plays her ministry will support.
“The fact that you’re bringing in political considerations can lead to us to bring in political considerations as well,” the minister said.
She then announced her plan to set new criteria for state support that would require theaters to perform for any audience, “without distinctions of race, religion, religious subgroup, nationality, worldview, party affiliation or location.”
The new rules would also forbid theater companies to discriminate by touring some towns more frequently than others.
Livnat insisted she was deeply committed to artistic freedom and freedom of speech.
“I believe in freedom of expression of all kinds, most certainly artistic expression,” she said. “I guarded cultural freedom and fought to increase cultural budgets, and never intervened in content, however appalling it was.
“But the minority of artists who signed the letter are bringing in political considerations, calling for boycotts, and so cutting off the branch on which the artists sit. The boycott is against the residents and is anti-democratic. We will act to safeguard equality among the state’s citizens.”
Playwright Anat Gov told the committee in response that “we’re not soldiers and there are no orders involved. It’s true that the word ‘refuse’ is in the letter, but it’s like refusing to babysit my granddaughter … We’re not boycotting anyone.”
She said the letter wasn’t meant to hurt the residents of Ariel, but to highlight the artists’ refusal to perform beyond the Green Line.
“Today an actor can come to a manager and say ‘I won’t play Friday night, which is a full night at the theater, because I observe Shabbat,'” Gov said. “And that will be respected. The actor won’t be fired. For me, this issue is like desecrating the Sabbath.”
But the committee voted to strongly condemn the artists’ refusal to perform in Ariel for political reasons and urged them to withdraw their letter.
“The use of boycotts by employees of a public institution supported by state funding, even if these employees are actors, is fundamentally unacceptable and disrupts all the codes of civil society and the ability to maintain a proper civil society,” the committee resolution read.
All the members present voted in favor, except MK Dov Khenin (Hadash ), who voted against.
2. Ynet Friday,
September 03, 2010
Boycotts are legitimate
Op-ed: Boycotts are the Jewish way, so why all the fuss over Ariel theater embargo?
The Ariel boycott announced by artists, authors, and professors provoked great commotion around here. As if a grave crime had been committed. Some argued that boycotts are wholly illegitimate and, heaven forbid, constitute a Diasporic custom. The more cautious ones argued that those who enjoy public funding – theaters and universities, for example – must not boycott other Israelis, whoever they may be.
Boycotts are a legitimate means anywhere in the world and a vital political weapon. The Americans and Indians imposed a boycott on British products when they fought against the English occupier. Anti-slavery Americans boycotted US manufacturers who used slaves. Many states boycotted South African products while the country was under racial segregation.
Elsewhere, “Zionist” Jews in Eretz Yisrael imposed a boycott on products produced by other Jews, who employed Arab workers.
And what about boycotts imposed by those funded by the State of Israel? There are plenty of those. All Orthodox Jewish institutions, which are state-funded, nonetheless boycott Reform and Conservative Jews. Meanwhile, haredi Jews in Israel impose a boycott on stores that sell non-kosher food next to kosher food – something that haredi Jews in London would never dare do. All of this is done via government-funded bodies, often yeshivas and “Torah” institutions.
Yet when it comes to the politics of religion, Limor Livnat and Benjamin Netanyahu (who are now preaching their views about state-funded boycotts) do not utter a word.
The European Union imposed a boycott on settlement products and did not recognize them as Israeli-made, thereby charging customs fees. So what did the Israeli government, which comprised Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Olmert, and Limor Livnat do? It agreed to cooperate with the boycott, and Ariel products are no longer recognized as Israeli-made.
Finally, the Israeli government does not recognize the Ariel College. The Higher Education Council legislation does not apply in Ariel, and when officials tried to apply it, the Council resisted. Hence, the college is recognized via a decree issued by a military governor, Jordan’s replacement at the occupied area. That is, the boycott against Ariel was started by the government, Limor Livnat as head of the Higher Education Council was a full party to it, and she continues with it. Everything was done with public funds.
So why do actor Dror Keren and author David Grossman deserve all the nonsensical condemnations? For acting like Jews and their governments had been acting for many generations? For doing what any freedom fighter who objects to discrimination and oppression would do?
3. [from Greg Wilkinson; I recommend watching the video from the One Democratic State Group, about 2-3 minutes. Dorothy]
Ali Abunimah got some prime time on today’s TODAY news programme on BBC Radio 4 (about 8.45 am if you get their Listen Again). He pointed out that while the US had backed the inclusion of the IRA in Northern Ireland peace talks, it blocks inclusion of Hamas. In the Irish case, the presence of a strong Irish lobby brought the US in on the side of the weak, with Israel/Palestine, the strong Israel lobby keeps it on the side of the strong… (not quite Abunimah’s words, but more or less)
From: One Democratic State Group <email@example.com>
Sent: Fri, 3 September, 2010 9:07:32
Subject: The Audacity of Hope: U.S. Boat to Gaza
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OT9gd8zyBOgOne Democratic State Group
4. [from Paula Orloff; I personally was not greatly impressed by the charade, but unfortunately agree with its pessimistic outlook. After all, so-called so-called peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians have been going on for at least 20 years—since Madrid in 1991, followed by Oslo Peace Accords, signed in 1993, and so on and so forth. These ‘talks’ or ‘negotiations’ enabled Israel to continue to expand by confiscating more and more land, building more and more colonies. The current talks will follow the same pattern. Dorothy]
In case you don’t get Common Dreams.org as your home page, check out Common Dreams.org for Sept 3. In the upper right hand corner is the video called Peace Charade put on by Code Pink in front of the White House. Characters are Hillary the moderator with Palestinian and West Bank leaders. The people of Gaza are pushed off to the side and constantly silenced in the skit–and in real life. It’s a very clever skit and shows dramatically the distorted focus of the talks omitting Gaza and West Bank issues and Israeli nuclear weapons. .
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