Category Archives: habima

BRAND ISRAEL THEATRE PROJECT TRIES TO HIDE WAR ON TERROR EVENT

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Press release from BIN and Bricup: Pro-Palestine Protesters thwart draconian secruity at Globe

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
demonstrators.

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 
Israeli institutions.

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
Importance: High

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 
acailler@live.co.uk 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 
#LoveCulture

· Was great to hear @edvaizey enjoyed watching 
@HabimaTheatre... did he understand any of it though? 
#LoveCulture

· 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 
with twitter.

If you have any questions please contact 
pr-asst3@london.mfa.gov.il or elliot@thejlc.org.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach

Photo of protest outside the Globe, Monday evening

http://pic.twitter.com/W0D7Koo1

(Taken by Asa Winstanley, posted on Twitter)

The hashtag for the Habima protest trended worldwide!

Zionists eat your hearts out! (oops, that could be taken as a
reference to Shylock’s “pound of flesh” – no offence intended)

#lovejustice4all trended no.1 in UK: http://twitpic.com/9qae31

– and no.2 Worldwide: http://twitpic.com/9qafe4

(posted by your guest editor, Sue B)

A Shakespearean sonnet for Habima!

 

Shakespeareans for Poetic Justice present:

                    A Sonnet for Habima

 
 
If all the world’s a stage – why then, the stage

Must play its part if we would change the world.

Whence this commotion?  Why such howls of rage

The moment that our banners are unfurled?

 
In Shakespeare’s time, an audience was moved

By speeches about justice and compassion.

The Bard, methinks, could only have approved

Of protests carried out in such a fashion.

 
We’ll take no lessons from those fools who claim

That politics can’t mix with the theatre.

If actors break the law, they are to blame.

Perform in settlements?  They should know better!

 
Attempts to whitewash Israel just got harder:

Now “Globe to globe” meets global Intifada.
 

Sue Blackwell, 26th May 2012

ARTISTS REFUTE ‘NAZI’ SLURS OVER ISRAELI THEATRE PROTEST

‘Nazi’ slurs published by the Jewish Chronicle are comprehensively rebutted in a letter from prominent theatrical figures.

A challenge to Shakespeare’s Globe for inviting Israel’s national theatre, Habima, to take part in London’s Cultural Olympiad in May has been met with a flurry of allegations of ‘Nazi era book-burning’ (Arnold Wesker in the Jewish Chronicle) and McCarthyism (Howard Jacobson in the Observer) .

This in turn prompted several  of the original 37 signatories to a letter in the Guardian to retaliate, refuting the allegations with a reply published in the Jewish Chronicle on April 12. It is not available on the JC’s website so we reproduce it here:

How sad that Arnold Wesker, Steven Berkoff and Maureen Lipman should suggest that challenging the Israeli national theatre’s fitness to take part in the Olympic Shakespeare Festival at the Globe next month is “tantamount to Nazi-era book-burning” (Theatre ban ‘like Nazi book burning’ sayWest Endstars, April 4).

Can they really have intended to cast this Nazi slur at Mark Rylance, Emma Thompson and the many other theatrical professionals like ourselves who believe that theatre should uphold resistance to injustice, rather than pretend opposition to Israel’s policies while continuing business as usual with an unjust state and its institutions? Doesn’t that cheap insult demean them rather than us?
Our call on colleagues at the Globe to withdraw their invitation to Habima, the Israeli National Theatre, explicitly targets an institution that does the state’s bidding by performing for Israelis illegally settled on occupied Palestinian territory. Habima is directly complicit in human rights abuses, and we think our profession has a responsibility, if not a duty, to speak up on the matter.

We are not targeting individual actors, directors or authors, nor the content of their work, and have no intention of doing so. We are not picking on Israel because it is Jewish, as Berkoff and Lipman allege.

 We are responding to a Palestinian call to insist that Israel lives up to the civilised standards it claims to uphold. In the process, we are celebrating and endorsing those brave Israelis, theatre people among them, who have refused to work in the illegal settlements.

Signed:
 
Niall Buggy, actor
David Calder, actor
Caryl Churchill, playwright
Michael Darlow, writer, director
John Graham Davies, actor, writer
Trevor Griffiths, playwright
James Ivens, artistic director, Flood Theatre
Roger Lloyd Pack, actor
Miriam Margolyes OBE, actor
Alexei Sayle, comedian, writer
Hilary Westlake, director
Susan Wooldridge, actor, writer
Geoffrey Alderman argued that Israel has every right to settle Jews in the West Bank, so Habima was doing nothing wrong. He was quickly slapped down by Adam Keller, of Gush Shalom.
In Wednesday’s Guardian (April 11), Arnold Wesker and a few friends finally put to rest the habitual insistence of Israel’s apologists that “we must not mix culture and politics” by accusing those who queried the invitation to Habima of  “seeking to delegitimise the state of Israel and its success”.
Wesker’s involvement in this row, invoking the sanctity of art, is ironic given his past involvement in the campaign to ban Jim Allen’s play Perdition, which exposed the collaboration of some Zionist leaders with the  Nazis in Hungary. In 1987 the Royal Court Theatre was forced to pull a planned production of the play and it has never been staged in its entirety.
There have been countless items of media coverage since the original Guardian letter appeared on March 30. This commentary from Ben White puts the controversy in context.
Here is a short selection of other coverage, for, against and neutral.
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