FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - MAY 28, 2012
[updated version, 29th May]
Press Release from
BIN - Boycott Israel Network
and BRICUP - British Committee for the
Universities of Palestine
PRO-PALESTINIAN PROTESTERS THWART DRACONIAN SECURITY AT
ISRAELI STATE THEATRE PERFORMANCE, GLOBE THEATRE
* Shakespeare's Globe in security lockdown to defend
Israeli National Theatre
* Repeated interruptions
* Israeli Embassy orchestrates propaganda campaign against
growing support for cultural boycott
Despite unprecedented security at Shakespeare's Globe for
Monday's performance by Israeli National Theatre, Habima,
pro-Palestinian campaigners succeeded in unfurling a
banner and staging a mute protest against illegal
colonisation and settlement. Protesters were manhandled
by security staff out of the theatre on London's Bankside,
where Habima - which entertains colonists illegally
settled on Palestinian land - was performing the Merchant
of Venice in Hebrew as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
Just before the interval 15 demonstrators stood up
with Palestinian flags and a banner. Demonstrator
Veronica Simpson said "Security was unnecessarily
aggressive. We were just making a peaceful protest
about Israel". One demonstrator had her glasses
broken. One man was handcuffed and arrested.
Pro-Israel audience members shouted abuse, and
some physically attacked demonstrators.
After the interval two members of the audience
introduced some adapted texts from Shakespeare
"Hath a Palestinian not eyes.... if you prick
us do we not bleed" and "Avaunt and quit my
sight - Apartheid" before they were removed.
Previously six protesters displayed a large
banner and several smaller ones they had
smuggled into the theatre. The banners carried
the slogan "Israeli apartheid leave the stage".
"We tried non-violently to convey the message that
culture may not be used to give a civilised gloss to
a state that perpetrates human rights abuses," said
Zoe Mars, a protester. Audience members walked out
of the performance because they were disgusted by the
rough treatment of the peaceful and silent
There were other smaller demonstrations by members
of the audience.
Protesters' ingenuity was tested by airport style
security checks including "extensive searches of
bags and audience members". The theatre box office
was closed by 4 pm, photographic equipment was banned
and any bag larger than a modest sized purse had to
be checked into a special left luggage facility.
Israeli Embassy attempts to undermine the protests with a
Twitter campaign in support of Habima fizzled out when
their efforts were leaked to pro-Palestinian activists.
An embassy circular suggested using the hashtag
#loveculture, because it "won't be taken at first glance
as a political statement."
"This is proof positive that as far as the Israeli state
is concerned, culture and political propaganda are
indivisible," said Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, cultural
working group coordinator of the Boycott Israel Network.
"This campaign is not an attack on individual artists,
we are not censoring the content of their work nor are
we concerned about their ethnicity or the language they
speak. As with South African sport in the apartheid
era, this is about refusing to allow culture to be
used to whitewash oppression."
Israeli, Palestinian and British human rights
campaigners, backed by respected figures in theatre
and the arts, have urged the Globe over recent months
to withdraw its invitation to Habima which is
complicit in the state's human rights violations
and illegal colonisation of occupied land.
Campaign supporters such as film maker Ken Loach
and actors David Calder and Miriam Margolyes say
Habima uses its art to normalise an unacceptable
situation. Their complicity "makes a mockery of
their claim to freedom in their work," says Loach.
[ contact details edited out of this version ]
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. This campaign went public with an open letter
published in The Guardian (March 29), signed by David
Calder, Trevor Griffiths, Jonathan Miller, Mark Rylance,
Emma Thompson and Harriet Walter, along with 31 others.
2. See video statements from actors David Calder,
Miriam Margolyes and John Graham Davies.
3. Statement from filmmaker Ken Loach and from
Palestinian writer Dr Ghada Karmi.
4. Photos and a first-hand report can be found on
Tony Greenstein's Blog
5. Palestinian theatre company, Ashtar, based in Ramallah
in the Occupied West Bank, staged Richard II in Arabic at
the Globe on May 4 and 5. In a post-performance
discussion, artistic director Iman Aoun revealed that
she had been strip searched on leaving Tel Aviv airport to
travel to London. She and other members of the company
explained their support for the cultural boycott of
6. Video: "Hath a Palestinian not eyes?"
7. Israeli President Shimon Peres recently cited boycotts
as a key reason why Israel may be obliged to make peace.
8. Foreign Secretary William Hague last month condemned
Israeli settlement activity, saying: "As the Occupying
Power of the Palestinian Territories, the Israeli
government has an absolute requirement to uphold
international law and to fulfill its commitments."
9. Content of Israeli Embassy circular mobilising
Twitter support for Habima:
An Important Message from the Israeli Embassy -
MAY 29TH/HABIMA THEATRE COMPANY
Dear Liverpool Jewish Community Members,
As part of the campaign around Habima's performance
at the Globe this coming week, we are aiming to get
something relevant trending on twitter. After careful
consideration, we have decided to use the hashtag
#LoveCulture as it is short enough to fit on a
substantial tweet and won't be taken at first glance
as a political statement.
To get something trending on twitter, we need it
to be a sudden occurrence. Therefore, we will start
tweeting with #LoveCulture at 08:00 UK Time
(which is GMT +1) on Tuesday 29 May (please do not
start before this time as it will dilute the
possibility of this actually trending).
(If you do not have twitter, please email
firstname.lastname@example.org before Tuesday
29th May and Adam will advise you what/how to use twitter)
Due to the rules twitter has, please refrain from using
additional hash-tags, sending multiple tweets with only
minor changes as they won't be counted and please make
sure that your tweets are relevant, as again not
complying will result in tweets not being counted.
Examples of tweets that you can use (please try and
edit them) are:
· Great to see @HabimaTheatre celebrating the Cultural
Olympiad @the_globe...all the world's a stage #LoveCulture
· Fantastic seeing the foremost Hebrew speaking theatre
company perform the Merchant of Venice @the_globe
· Was great to hear @edvaizey enjoyed watching
@HabimaTheatre... did he understand any of it though?
· Jealous of all those off to see sold out @HabimaTheatre
at @the_globe tonight...last night was great #LoveCulture
If you are using a twitter client such as TweetDeck or
HootSuite, there is an option to schedule tweets to be
sent at a predetermined time.
Please feel free to send this on to trusted contacts
If you have any questions please contact
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach