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Nixon backpedals on letter saluting ‘courageous’ artists who boycotted ‘clearly illegal’ Israeli settlement

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In fighting back against a smear by the Democratic Party of NY that she has been silent on anti-Semitism, Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Governor Andrew Cuomo in the primary on Thursday, has misrepresented a letter she signed in 2010 against an Israeli settlement and saluting Israeli artists who refused to perform there.

“My signing the letter had nothing to do with the appropriateness or inappropriateness of their performing there, it had to do with protection of Israeli artists,” Nixon said on Sunday (at a press conference, below). “I signed a letter in support of theater artists who did not want to perform in the West Bank, and they were fearful that they would lose the funding for their theater company.”

In fact, the letter declared the West Bank settlement of Ariel “clearly illegal” and celebrated the Israeli artists who refused to perform there as “courageous” in the face of “wrongful acts.” The letter concluded, “We stand with them.” As Nixon noted Sunday, the letter was signed by 150 English and American artists including “Theodore Bikel, Tony Kushner, Ed Asner, and Mandy Patinkin.” Also Julianne Moore, Eve Ensler, and Mira Nair.

Here is the text of the letter, per Jewish Voice for Peace, which published it on September 6, 2010:

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.

There is nothing in the letter about funding for a theater company. Though JVP noted at the time, “When some 60 leading Israeli actors and playwrights signed a letter stating they would refuse to play in the new theatre in Ariel, one of Israel’s largest settlements, the attacks from Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sport and many others were swift and intense. Over 150 leading Israeli academics and writers- including Amos Oz and David Grossman- came to their defense.”

Nixon was responding Sunday to a mailer sent out by the Democratic Party to Jewish voters just before Rosh Hashanah that accused her of not standing “strong for Jewish communities” because she “Supports BDS, the racist, xenophobic campaign against Israel” and is “Silent on the rise of anti-Semitism.”

The 2010 letter was the supposed evidence of her support for BDS, boycott, divestment and sanctions. On Sunday Nixon said she does not support BDS but she would rescind Andrew Cuomo’s executive order barring state business with entities that do support BDS.

I am not a supporter of BDS. I have never been a supporter of BDS. I am a supporter of a two state solution. But neither do I favor what Andrew Cuomo does in effectively making a blacklist of institutions and individuals who do support BDS. I believe they have a right to do that and the ACLU condemned him for that. I do not personally support BDS, but I support the right of those who do to speak about it.

Asked directly if she would rescind the order, she said, “Yes, I think that is trampling on people’s civil rights.”

She also said she was concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism.

I am the mother of Jewish children, and I am very alarmed by the rise of anti-semitism in this country and globally. I am frightened for my children, I am frightened for my world…. Antisemitism is a terrifying thing that is on the rise here, and for Andrew Cuomo’s Democratic Party to be using it in such an ugly unfounded way is completely unacceptable.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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13 Responses

  1. eljay on September 11, 2018, 2:03 pm

    Zionism is a disturbingly dark force.

    • Kay24 on September 11, 2018, 2:30 pm

      It is evil, and its poison spreads in the US. Cynthia Nixon realizes that she needs to kiss up to that big behind if she wants to run for any political office. That ugly behind.

      • JWalters on September 11, 2018, 11:25 pm

        Sometimes revolutionaries need to shuffle. I’m hoping that at a good moment she will bounce back against the evil.

      • ckg on September 12, 2018, 11:14 am

        Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she has won the victory over herself.

      • CigarGod on September 12, 2018, 3:34 pm

        When you want to win that bad, we all get a free look into your soul.
        Example: Serena Williams.
        Winning aint worth that much.

      • Kay24 on September 12, 2018, 4:47 pm

        There are a few who must be at least taking a neutral stance on this, and not totally worshipping the occupier, like most Congress people do. Ted Cruz for instance has been criticizing Beto O’Rourke for not showing his unwavering love for Cruz’s masters….remember Ted Cruz was present at the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. He must have wanted to kiss that large butt personally.
        Unfortunately I have this terrible senator who has been in the pockets of the zionists for some years, Menendez, who I will not be voting for. Most probably he will win anyway.

  2. annie on September 11, 2018, 2:54 pm

    in jvp’s statement at the time (here:

    it includes an embed “For further background and frequently asked questions, click here.” leading here (pdf):

    one of the questions:

    What is at stake for the Israelis who are speaking up?

    Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said the government should withdraw funding from theaters which refuse to perform in Ariel: “The State of Israel invests a lot of money in theaters. The taxes helping those theaters exist are paid by Ariel’s residents as well, and those
    who are sabotaging this should not be employed in Israel.”11

    The positon of the Israeli artsts has become frontpage news in Israel and the attacks from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Culture minister Limor Livnat, and others have been fast and furious. It’s the first Time so many mainstream Israeli figures have spoken out in such a clear way about the settlements, and Israeli actvists tell us, “Everyone is going crazy.”

    Under the intense pressure handful of artists rescinded their signatures. 12

    • JWalters on September 11, 2018, 11:21 pm

      Totalitarian regimes have always hated artists. They can have unexpected ways of suddenly popping the truth in front of your face.

  3. philweiss on September 11, 2018, 2:57 pm

    Thanks Annie, that’s helpful

  4. Citizen on September 12, 2018, 7:32 am

    Looks increasingly like the Corbyn effect is coming to America.

  5. Maximus Decimus Meridius on September 12, 2018, 7:45 am

    It’s Corbyn all over again.

    The messsage is: no matter how long ago, or how trivial the ‘offence’ it WILL be used against you and you WILL be forced to surrender. No dissent is tolerated. No independence of thought allowed.

    • Rob Roy on September 13, 2018, 9:19 am

      I watched an interview with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in which she also caved into Zionist pressure. When these women had a chance to stand strong, they turned into back-trackers. If they and Jeremy Corbyn would simply stand up for Palestinians with no caveats, they would retain the respect shown before they began appeasement toward Israel and find that the majority of voters in the US and the UK would support them in the polls.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on September 15, 2018, 10:42 am

        It’s not that simple though, because we’re not talking about ordinary voters.

        Israel simply isn’t a major issue for voters – at least non-Jewish voters – in either the UK or the USA. For the vast, vast majority of people, the Middle East simply doesn’t register on their list of priorties. However, for a very small, but very powerful, minority, Israel is VERY important. There is no similarly influential group for whom justice for Palestinians is important, either in the UK or the USA. So the hard fact is that for an ambitious politician, there is a huge incentive to be either neutral or better, supportive of Israel, and no incentive to be critical of it. A few years ago, I would have said things were better in the UK, but having seen the Corbyn hysteria, that sadly is clearly no longer the case.

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