Groundbreaking letter – ‘Israeli theatre artists have refused to allow their work to be used to normalize a cruel occupation . . .We stand with them’

on 11 Comments

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.

11 Responses

  1. Les
    September 6, 2010, 9:52 am

    This is great news. What would make it even better would be to mention those signers who are Jews, which would help to counter the claims of the Israel Lobby that it represents Jews including those in Hollywood and show business. Still this is great news to be shared.

  2. gingershot
    September 6, 2010, 10:49 am

    a principled stand and great news

    do any of the Mondoweiss folks know which occasion it was when the Palestinians linked hands all the way across the Occupied Territories? – I think they actually did it in the West Bank. I think it was about 3 or 4 years ago and there were photos that actually hit the mainstream news for a day

    I’ve been trying to find reference to that for a while now but no luck so far – I think the photos from that event were incredibly powerful and devasatingly to Apartheid – but it disappeared off the radar awfully quickly – probably for exactly that reason

    If anyone could help steer me to relocate the event or photos I would really appreciate it


  3. Mooser
    September 6, 2010, 11:36 am

    All those left-wingish elitest intellectuals don’t mean a thing to the solid working-class Americans, who support Israel to the hilt, and would gladly sacrifice their sons and daughters to prove the inerrancy of Biblical predictions and fight the Muslims.
    In fact, I can’t think of a better way to ensure the continued support for the Zionist regime than by making its destruction a left-wing cause celebre.

    • Citizen
      September 6, 2010, 11:58 am

      I guess you live nearby me.

    • MRW
      September 6, 2010, 5:29 pm

      Think you’re wrong on this, Mooser. This is a helluva list. All these people come from hometowns that are proud of their fellow citizens for their accomplishments.

    • MRW
      September 6, 2010, 5:31 pm

      This is an A-List.

  4. justicewillprevail
    September 6, 2010, 1:11 pm

    Mooser, your satire on sacrifice will be lost on most people.

  5. RoHa
    September 6, 2010, 7:37 pm

    Is this the boycott that led the Speaker of the Knesset to blow the gaff on 1948?

    link to

  6. chet
    September 6, 2010, 9:42 pm

    Check out the outrage on Haaretz.

    Imagine the reaction if there was some kind of significant boycott in respect of an economic matter.

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