limor livnat 248 88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) slammed dozens of performing
artists over the weekend after they signed on to a letter saying they would
refuse to perform at the new culture center in the West Bank city of
MKs Carmel Shama (Likud) and Alex Miller (Israel Beiteinu) issued
a joint request for an urgent recess hearing on the subject in the Knesset’s
Education, Culture and Sport Committee.
On Friday, 36 prominent theater
personalities sent a letter to the directors-general of Israeli theaters in
which they said that they would boycott any event held in the Ariel facility, as
working there would be “against their consciences.”
directors and actors wrote the letter in response to reports in Haaretz that a
NIS 40 million cultural center was slated to open in Ariel (population about
17,000) in November.
The Cameri, Khan, Habima and Beersheba Theaters are
scheduled to mount productions in the new facility.
Livnat, in response
to the artists’ letter, issued a statement in which she called on the theater
directors “to immediately address this crisis that has been created, in which
actors and creators have decided to divide Israeli society.
a rift in society, and discriminates between audiences on the basis of the
political opinions of the artists. Culture is a social bridge, and the political
debate must be left outside of cultural and artistic life,” the minister
She called on theater managers to maintain their performance
schedules in Ariel and throughout Israel.
“Every citizen has the right to
culture, anywhere they want.”
Miller and Shama said in their letter to
Culture Committee chairman MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), “This is an
infuriating and dangerous precedent that discriminates against innocent citizens based on
their place of residence and prevents them from receiving cultural and artistic
services despite being lawabiding taxpayers. This is a case of ugly political
discrimination that must be rejected and uprooted.”
Miller and Shama
requested the Knesset examine the possibility of denying government subsidies to
“those who take part in this absurd initiative.”
Miller, who lives in
Ariel, said the artists’ boycott constituted “collective
“Ariel is an inseparable part of the State of Israel, the
state that subsidizes and supports theaters and numerous artists,” the lawmakers
The managers of a number of prominent theaters, including Habima
and the Cameri – perhaps the nation’s leading stages – have distanced themselves
from the letter.
“We will respect our actors’ political views, but we
will bring the best plays in Israeli theater to Ariel,” they wrote in a
statement together with the heads of other leading theaters.
Tibi (United Arab List) congratulated the artists for standing at the “front
line in the struggle against the inequities, oppression and repression of the
“The decision by the theater managements to appear in Ariel
is embarrassing, but is consistent with the fascism that has almost become
mainstream in Israeli society,” Tibi said.