Israel denies visas to 5 artists seeking to perform with Freedom Theatre

on 12 Comments

Palestinian society’s call for a cultural boycott is ever more pressing. Palestinians struggle every day simply for the right to cultural expression and survival, a battle that is frequently overlooked by international artists and certainly ignored by most Israeli performers. Just this week, Israel denied visas to five artists from the Arab world who were planning to join with The Freedom Theatre and other Palestinian artists in performances supporting the Walk for Water Justice on March 22. The Walk for Water Justice, held on World Water Day, is planned to include visits to Bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley, educational talks, live music, and interactive theater – all relating to water issues. Hundreds of Palestinian and foreign nationals, diplomats, community leaders, and other decision makers are expected to attend.

What, you may ask, does Israel have to do with a Palestinian community arts and education festival? Well, of course, Israel is the ultimate censor of what Palestinians may see and may not see. Under occupation, art is subject to the Israeli Civil Administration’s decisions as to whether the artist should appear. How this censorship works, like much of the Orwellian control of the Israeli occupation, is, as we in the West say, Byzantine.

In this case, The Freedom Theatre applied more than two months ago to the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs for a permit for the artists to enter the West Bank to perform. Duly stamped by the Ministry, the permit application was forwarded to the Israeli Civil Administration (which, despite its name, is a branch of the Israeli army). On March 11, The Freedom Theatre was informed by the Palestinian Ministry that the Israelis had denied the permit. The censors have spoken. The artists will not be seen or heard.

Cartoonist Khalid Albaih of Sudan said, “ For Israel to deny my entry to the “Palestinian” territories sums up the whole Israel/Palestine conflict.”  Sondos Shabayek, the Egyptian theatrical artist famed for developing the Tahrir Monologues, said, in all his travels, he had never been denied entry by any country. Visiting Palestine he felt, is “a means of showing support, of attempting artistic cooperation.”

“Ideas,” he tells Israel, “don’t need permits.”

This is an important counterpoint to the denunciations of the call for a cultural boycott of Israel whose most prominent spokesman is Bernard-Henri Levy, the French intellectural, who said, in his article “Why Boycott is Crap”:

“…by nature and by conviction, I believe in the power of ideas and, even more, that of the truth. In such circumstances, I am always in favor of debate, the clash of opinions, even the confrontation of convictions–hence, not of censure. “

This seemingly appealing option is not open to artists who wish to perform in Palestine. Debate, the clash of opinions, the confrontation of convictions have no place in occupied territory. The Israeli army will decide who performs in Palestine, and, of course, which Palestinian artists are permitted to perform anywhere else in the world.

12 Responses

  1. Tzombo
    March 18, 2013, 3:42 pm

    I fail to see why everyone seems to think of Bernard-Henri Levy as an intellectual. He keeps demonstrating he is a very shallow tribalist thinker. You can bet your life he’ll find a way to defend this Israeli move.

  2. NormanF
    March 18, 2013, 7:51 pm

    As a sovereign country, Israel has the right to exclude nationals from enemy states from entering its territory.

    There exists no entitlement to enter a foreign country without its permission.

    • K Renner
      March 18, 2013, 8:16 pm

      Well the Palestinian Territories are under illegal and brutal occupation.
      I know that your idiotic mindset will dictate that the concept of “eretz yisrael” is somehow justifiable and should be allowed to happen, but the Palestinian Territories are not Israeli land.

    • justicewillprevail
      March 18, 2013, 8:26 pm

      They are not interested in going to Israel. They are going to Palestine, which israel has no right to interfere in. Unless, of course, Israel actually considers it to be Israel, in which case it is apartheid. Either way, israel is not a sovereign country, since it has undeclared borders and an occupation of land which does not belong to it.And what enemy states are you talking about? Every other state in the world?

    • ritzl
      March 18, 2013, 11:39 pm

      That’s their point, innit? The WB is NOT Israel or Israeli territory. Or maybe your point is that it is?

    • Marco
      March 18, 2013, 11:49 pm

      Some sovereign country. It can’t even decide what it’s borders are.

      Not one other industrialized nation has that kind of problem in 2013. Not one other industrialized nation is founded expressly upon racial supremacy.

      • Sumud
        March 19, 2013, 3:43 am

        Some sovereign country. It can’t even decide what it’s borders are.

        That’s just propaganda Marco – zionist propaganda.

        This is their dirty little secret: Israel has declared it’s borders in 48/49 when it applied to the UN, and they match those of UN181. Numerous countries also recognised Israel diplomatically on the basis of those borders, including the US.

        Israel got what it wanted from the UN (a fig leaf of legitimacy) in 1947/48/49 and they’ve been back-pedalling ever since.

        Mondoweiss regular talknic has all this info at his blog:

    • talknic
      March 19, 2013, 1:07 am

      @ NormanF … Let’s examine what you’ve said closely “As a sovereign country”

      A) Sovereign countries (independent states) must have defined territories. “ARTICLE 1 The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: a ) a permanent population; b ) a defined territory”

      The same convention, ratified by the USA, says “ARTICLE 11

      The contracting states definitely establish as the rule of their conduct the precise obligation not to recognize territorial acquisitions or special advantages which have been obtained by force whether this consists in the employment of arms, in threatening diplomatic representations, or in any other effective coercive measure.

      B) Israel’s legal sovereign extent is only recognized over the boundaries of UNGA res 181, as Israel asked to be recognized ” as an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947″ link to Israel has never legally annexed any further territory to its sovereign extent

      ” Israel has the right to exclude nationals from enemy states from entering its territory”

      Indeed. The same Israeli emergency law of 1948 and still in force, prevented Israeli citizens and residents from worshiping at the Temple Mount when it was under the temporary annexation of Jordan, as a trustee.

      However, the West Bank is not Israeli territory, entering via the Allenby Bridge does not require setting foot in any Israeli territory.

      Having been shown the evidence, best you begin to engage in honest debate or go spout your nonsense elsewhere

  3. sardelapasti
    March 18, 2013, 8:23 pm

    Norman F –
    So you already have officially declared the occupied West Bank to be part of the Zionist entity, I see. Please provide the documentation.

    Anyway, even if the visitors were going inside the ’67 line or even behind the 47 partition proposal lines, the sovereignty of the Zionist entity only rests on armed aggression and conquest. Only a valid claim for stone age men.

  4. Hostage
    March 18, 2013, 10:39 pm

    As a sovereign country, Israel has the right to exclude nationals from enemy states from entering its territory.

    Sorry, no. Israel is merely an occupying power in the Jordan Valley, not the sovereign power of the territory. There exists no right to be a Zionist nut case.

  5. DICKERSON3870
    March 19, 2013, 2:32 am

    RE: “Israel denies visas to 5 artists seeking to perform with Freedom Theatre . . . The Freedom Theatre was informed by the Palestinian Ministry that the Israelis had denied the permit. The censors have spoken. The artists will not be seen or heard.”

    MY SNARK: So, who ya gonna call? No, not Ghostbusters™. Call that “avid supporter of free speech”, Ambassador Michael Oren! He is so proud of Israel’s “democratic values”!

    SEE: “Israel’s US envoy: ‘Gatekeepers’ hindering PR efforts”, By Yitzhak Benhorin, Ynet News, 3/17/13
    Although he is an avid supporter of free speech, advancement of local film industry, Ambassador Michael Oren believes documentary in which Shin Bet officials slam Israel’s West Bank policy hurting country’s international image

    WASHINGTON – Standing at the forefront of Israeli PR, Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren has felt in recent weeks that he is being undermined from within.
    “The Gatekeepers” – former Shin Bet heads who were interviewed for an Oscar-nominated documentary – are the ones Oren believes are hindering the efforts made by Israel, which is “already in a war of sorts.”
    Oren contemplated for a long time whether or not to make this claim publicly for fear that it will relay a message that he is trying to silence freedom of speech and democratic values of which he is so proud and the amazing cinematic advancement Israel has seen.
    In his youth, the ambassador was an assistant to Orson Welles, so he appreciates a good film. However, Oren disclosed his thoughts on the subject to Ynet, and not just so that former officials would think twice before giving interviews such as those given by the six former Shin Bet directors.
    Appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who himself said he does not intend to watch “The Gatekeepers,” Oren is first and foremost an historian. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to

  6. MK_Ultra
    March 19, 2013, 12:43 pm

    Long live the Middle East’s Only Democracy™!

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