Culture minister threatens to cut funds after Israeli Arab actor boycotts West Bank show

Norman Issa, 47, made waves when he announced that he would not take part in a production slated to be held in a Jewish settlement in the Jordan Valley.

June 9, 2015 17:55
1 minute read.
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev threatened on Tuesday to cut funding to a theater run by an Israeli Arab actor who refused to take part in a performance at a West Bank settlement.

Actor, director and playwright Norman Issa, 47, made waves when he announced that he would not appear in a production of Boomerang – a show in which he stars for the Haifa Theater – that was slated to go up in a Jewish settlement in the Jordan Valley.

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On her Facebook page, Regev criticized Issa – a co-founder of the Jaffa-based Elmina multicultural theater for children – for his decision, which she said “does not give expression to the coexistence in which he believes and which he champions.”

She added that “in the event that Norman does not recant, I intend to reexamine the issue of our ministry’s support for Elmina Theater, which operates under his management.”

On his own Facebook page Tuesday, Issa decried the “unfair witch hunt” that his decision had sparked.

“As an Arab Israeli married to a Jewish woman, I am raising a wonderful family. My wife and I have devoted our entire lives to realizing Jewish- Arab coexistence. That is how we are raising our children, and that was the motivation behind the founding of our theater company in Jaffa,” he wrote.

“You cannot expect that I, as an Israeli Arab, will go against my conscience and agree to perform in controversial places,” he continued.

“Unfortunately I am now faced with a threat from the minister of culture and sport, Miri Regev, who will reexamine state funding for the theater that my wife and I founded with our own hands.

The pressure being put on me borders on extortion. It is unfair. This theater is more important to me and my wife than anything else.”

The Haifa Theater announced that an understudy would take Issa’s place and that the show

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