Anorak | An Israel Boycott Is A Celebration Of Misanthropy, Ignorance And Haemorrhoids

An Israel Boycott Is A Celebration Of Misanthropy, Ignorance And Haemorrhoids

by | 19th, August 2014

Marchers cheer as they pass along a barricade separating them from anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement protestors during the Celebrate Israel Parade, Sunday, June 1, 2014, in New York. Among the 35,000 marchers were New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Israeli diplomats and members of the Knesset, Israel's parliament. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)


IS the aim to ban Jews from the UK. George Galloway wants an Isreal-free Bradford . Sainsbury’s removed Jewish food from its shelves lest it offend anti-Israel protestors and, presumably, anti-Semites. Also in London, the Tricycle cinema would only allow Israeli Film Festival to go ahead if the organisors denounced Israel and refused to accept money from the Israeli embassy.

The Tricycle’s sister theatre accepts £720,000 from the UK Arts Council, operated by the British Government, which has launched wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Jerusalem-based Incubator Theatre is seeking a new venue for its work, The City, because pro-Palestine and anti-Israel activists wanted it banned.

The Underbelly venue cancelled performances of Incubator Theatre’s production The City a hip hop crime fable on Wednesday after a demonstration of around 100 outside. There had also been a letter signed by Scottish artists and writers, including the playwright David Greig and Scotland’s national poet Liz Lockhead, calling for Incubator not to be allowed to perform given what is happening in Gaza: Incubator receives funding from the Israeli government.

But the company’s artistic director, Arik Eshet, said that his government was not funding art for political reasons. “They fund art for art,” he said. “It can be against the government, we are not censored. Every group that comes to the Fringe from other countries is unable to come without government help.”

Eshet said they were not political people, that they came to the Fringe as artists. “The last few days have been depressing,” he told the Guardian. “But we are trying to be in a good mood, we are trying to find a new venue and in the mean time we’ll sing in the streets … sing for peace.”

So much for free speech and art. This is what the undersigned want banned:

During the past nine years, the Theater has put on more than 1,500 shows from 30 original productions and plays, including a television series on Channel 10. It has also gained the recognition of public bodies such as the Jerusalem municipality and the Ministry of Culture. The Incubator Theater is based in Beit Maziya, a theater complex located in the center of Jerusalem.

“The Theater aims to be a significant agent of cultural change in Jerusalem and an active force in developing an urban climate of pluralism and openness that accommodates a wide spectrum of opinions and world views.”

Just as in Bradford, where the ban showed only that many locals are not bigots, the righteous who want Israelis to agree with them or be censored are not the only voices.

Douglas Wilson writes:

This is a well intentioned, misguided piece of intellectual band-wagonism which I fundamentally disagree with.

Would the signatories of this letter have been in agreement with other international festivals boycotting Scottish theatre companies which had received support from Creative Scotland or other state subsidies during the illegal war in Iraq, in which the UK took an active part, and has led to the death of hundreds and thousands of innocent Iraqis?

Why then should this theatre company be held accountable for the actions of the Israeli government when numerous Scottish or Scottish based artists have toured the world during Blair’s war in Iraq?

Roy Beers adds:

Could we maybe run a check on companies likely to appear in the near future to make sure we get similar headlines for other offenders – so Russia is out, certainly; most or all Middle Eastern countries, China (for about a dozen reasons), the USA (illegal war), Sri Lanka (genocide) many African countries (human rights, genocide, war, corruption … etc).

As with the Tricycle’s double-standards, many events at the Fringe are backed by the English or Scottish Arts Council.

Arik Eshet, artistic director of the Incubator Theatre, notes :

“Those British people or Scottish people are not seen as representatives of their government. And, as with us, they are probably not funded because of their political views, so how can you cancel them or blame them for anything? This is discrimination in the way they’re thinking….  if boycotts are going on, that means their side is heard [but] the other side is not.”

Cultural bans are hideous. What sane person agrees that disagreements should be waged over a theatre performance, a jar of pickles or a film? Culture should be enjoyed and experienced in all forms. It helps humanity understand one another. Banning it is ugly and stupid.

So. Is it about culture? Or is it

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Posted: 19th, August 2014 | In: Key Posts, News Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink