- Published on Tuesday, 24 April 2012 10:29
A group of actors, writers and directors last week signed a letter asking the world famous Globe Theatre in London to boycott the Israeli Habima Theatre.
As part of the six week Globe to Globe festival, where Shakespeare´s entire works of 37 plays will be performed in 37 different languages from theatre companies around the world, Habima Theatre was booked to produce William Shakespeare´s The Merchant of Venice, and to perform the entire play in Hebrew.
The letter that was published in the Guardian, objected to Israel´s continued violation of international law and urged the Globe Theatre to withdraw their invitation. The letter, which was signed by world renowned theatre practictioners including amongst many others; Caryl Churchill, Mark Rylance, David Calder and Mike Leigh, stated that it didn´t have an issue with including the Hebrew language on the stage of the Globe, stating "The Globe says it wants to "include" the Hebrew language in its festival – we have no problem with that. "Inclusiveness" is a core value of arts policy in Britain, and we support it." however the core issue lay with Habima Theatre supporting a Zionist regime that continued to support illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. It furthermore stated:
"The general manager of Habima has declared the invitation "an honourable accomplishment for the State of Israel". But Habima has a shameful record of involvement with illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory. Last year, two large Israeli settlements established "halls of culture" and asked Israeli theatre groups to perform there."
The letter has divided the theatre community in London as some theatre practictioners state that it is censorship to remove a Jewish play from the stage and some called for them to denounce but not to censor although playwright David Edgar argued that the word censorship has changed since political bodies enforced the censor ship of sensitive works and it has now been taken over by organisations who find the material may be offensive and may cause "distress or offence"
The Globe Theatre responded to the letter by stating that the festival was "a celebration of language and not ... a celebration of nations and states", although this has provoked fierce anger amongst the boycott and theatre community in London as Habima continues to stage performances for Jewish Israeli only theatre audiences in illegal West Bank settelements.