Update on the groundbreaking letter from 150 American actors, writers, directors and artists in support of the Israeli actors’ boycott of a theater in the West Bank settlement Ariel. The letter was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace and its signatoris include four Pulitzer Prize winners, Guggenheim Fellowship recipents, a MacArthur Fellowship, a National Medal of Honor, and scores of recipients of the highest U.S. acting honors, including Tony Awards, Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, Obie Awards, Drama Desk Awards, and the Oscar.
The letter reads:
On August 27th, dozens of Israeli actors, directors, and playwrights made the brave decision not to perform in Ariel, one of the largest of the West Bank settlements, which by all standards of international law are clearly illegal. As American actors, directors, critics and playwrights, we salute our Israeli counterparts for their courageous decision.
Most of us are involved in daily compromises with wrongful acts. When a group of people suddenly have the clarity of mind to see that the next compromise looming up before them is an unbearable one — and when they somehow find the strength to refuse to cross that line — we can’t help but be overjoyed and inspired and grateful.
It’s thrilling to think that these Israeli theatre artists have refused to allow their work to be used to normalize a cruel occupation which they know to be wrong, which violates international law and which is impeding the hope for a just and lasting peace for Israelis an Palestinians alike. They’ve made a wonderful decision, and they deserve the respect of people everywhere who dream of justice. We stand with them.
JVP’s Executive Director Rebecca Vilkommerson says:
The response of American and UK artists to the courageous actions of their Israeli counterparts is just phenomenal. It is especially notable that so many of the signatories are Jewish with long-standing connections to Israel. We hope that the strong show of solidarity by Americans and UK actors in response to these brave Israelis will help spark a new conversation in both countries, one that acknowledges that the Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are illegal by every measure of international law, contribute to the daily violation of human rights of Palestinians, and are a major obstacle to a just peace in the region.
JVP’s website notes, that "statement organizers and signatories represent a wide range of political opinions and perspectives, but have come together for the sole purpose of making a joint statement on this one critical issue." The signers are a very diverse bunch including Ed Asner, Theodore Bikel, Eve Ensler, Tony Kushner, Cynthia Nixon, Mandy Patinkin, theater director and producer Harold Prince, Vanessa Redgrave, screenwriter and film producer James Schamus, Wallace Shawn, Jennifer Tilly, playwright Lynn Nottage, the lyricist for Fiddler on the Roof Sheldon Harnick, Bill Irwin, Kathleen Chalfant, and Ruth Reichl among many others. You can read the entire list here.