Controversy Surrounds New West Bank Cultural Centre

Almost 60 theatre professionals signed a petition refusing to perform in the settlement of Ariel.

Published: August 29th 2010
in Culture » Stage

Ariel, Israel

A new cultural centre in the West Bank settlement of Ariel continues to stir up controversy as almost 60 Israeli theatre professionals vowed to boycott performances staged there – though four recently reversed their pledge.


According to Haaretz, actors Irit Kaplan, Dror Keren and two others withdrew their signatures on the petition, which opposed the announcement that several major Israeli theatre companies will be crossing the Green Line for the first time to perform in Ariel.


“I had second thoughts regarding the petition, because of the fact that the theater is a public institution, to which I am committed," Kaplan told Haaretz in regards to her decision. Keren wrote a letter to the director of the Cameri Theater explaining his renewed stance, stating “It is not my job to punish anyone through sanctions or boycott. I have no resentment towards the people of Ariel. I oppose boycotting, silencing others, or any sort of violence.”


On Thurs. Aug. 26, Haaretz reported that two Israeli theatre actors, Yousef Sweid and Rami Heuberger of Israel’s national theatre Habima, would refuse to perform for Jewish settlers in the cultural centre in Ariel.


"I would be glad to perform in settlements in several shows that have messages I'd like to deliver in many communities,” Sweid told Channel1. “But settlers and settlements are not something that entertains me, and I don't want to entertain them."


Though none of his plays are scheduled to run in Ariel, Heuberger refused on the grounds that the settlements remain a controversial issue that require discussion with the Palestinians.


Though the cultural centre in Ariel has been under construction for 20 years, the city’s mayor only recently gathered enough funds to complete the project.

Related articles: (stage, west bank, ariel, habima, boycott)

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