The shocking story of Habima, Israel National Theatre, using its involvement in the Union of Theatres of Europe (UTE) to peddle the politics of the Israeli military and security establishment, becomes murkier by the minute. This is a re-post from artistsright2sayno.
As set out in our previous post, a Terror Special Conference was billed as part of the ‘rich programme of activity,’ on 13-16 November in Tel Aviv, prepared by Israel’s national theatre Habima for the attendees of the 2014 General Assembly of the Union of Theatres of Europe (U.T.E.). To discuss ‘The Democratic Dilemma in the War on Terrorism’ was a chilling line-up that included a former director of Mossad, former head of the security section of Shin Bet, a former Director of the Counter Terrorism Bureau of the Israeli PM’s office, and an Israeli Philosophy professor who wants to change the laws of war to remove protections afforded to non-combatants. Although – to our knowledge – that event took place on 14 November, U.T.E. has now deleted it from their website page for the general assembly programme. Jews sans Frontieres obtained for us a cached copy of the old page, which had been replaced by 15 November. Curiously, on the cached page, the following text and logo are no longer visible at the foot of the programme, but we had saved it in Word:
Produced by the Union of Theatres of Europe and the Habima – National Theatre of Israel, Tel Aviv
In the context of the CONFLICT ZONES network programme
Co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union
There seems to be only one explanation for this deletion: that negative coverage of Habima’s programme – not least on this website – caused embarrassment for the European theatres participating in the TERRORisms project and attending the AGM in Tel Aviv; in response U.T.E. has sought to disassociate itself from a seminar amongst whose panellists appear to be apologists for war crimes.
In a Haaretz article published on the eve of the U.T.E. general assembly, Habima’s artistic director and current president of U.T.E. Ilan Ronen asserted that ‘The terror conference is a local conference, which is not related to the international conference.’ If that was the case all along, why was the ‘terror conference’ billed as the only programmed event on the 2nd day of a meeting that was ‘produced’ by U.T.E. and Habima ‘in the context of’ a European Union funded project? You will also see the EU and the U.T.E.’s logos on this Habima flyer; the right-hand column is the programme for the 14 November IDC/ICT-sponsored terror conference:
Why, indeed, are European Union funds being used for conferences that legitimise Israel’s brutal military occupation of the Palestinian people and land? And why are such cynical narratives on ‘terrorism’ being supported by an Israeli cultural institution? Crucially for us at Artists right 2 say ‘no’, we want to know why – as we wrote in our open letter:
– you, theatres of Europe, appear on the face of it to be willing to endorse Habima’s participation in the Israeli colonisation of Palestinian land and the apartheid practices of the settlers…? … We’re amazed. We think you shouldn’t go. We don’t understand how you’ve got yourselves into this relationship with Habima. Europe had experience of oppressive military occupations not so long ago. Have you forgotten the terror inflicted on those civilian populations?