Portuguese playwright pulls out of Israel Festival

Tiago Rodrigues says he decided to "join cultural boycott of Israel."

Tiago Rodrigues (photo credit: SAM.DONVIL/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Tiago Rodrigues
Portuguese playwright Tiago Rodrigues has announced that he is canceling his scheduled appearance at the Israel Festival in Jerusalem next month.
Last week, Rodrigues posted on Facebook, saying he would no longer be participating in the festival and that he was also joining the call for a cultural boycott of Israel.
The actor, director and writer wrote that he initially “accepted this invitation because I believe that the people of a country and its political administration are not the same thing.”
However, he added, “It was brought to my attention that the official communications by the Israel Festival announce that this year’s edition ‘marks the State of Israel’s 70th year of independence.’” Rodrigues noted that this “is a statement of political significance of which I was not informed when I was invited to perform in the festival.”
The playwright added that the festival is sponsored by various government bodies but “is silent about the unacceptable acts of violence ordered by this same government against Palestinians.”
Rodrigues, who is the artistic director of Teatro Nacional D. Maria II in Lisbon, was slated to perform his work “By Heart” on June 4 and 5.
But he said that after consulting with many people, “I understand now that a clear position is absolutely necessary.
“That’s why I am not only canceling my participation in the Israel Festival but I have also decided to join the cultural boycott of Israel, convinced that global and collective pressure might produce similar results to the boycott of South Africa during apartheid.”
Festival organizers lamented the cancellation on Monday.
“The performance by Tiago Rodrigues is about memory as a tool to combat the restriction of freedom of expression,” said Festival CEO Eyal Sher in a statement. “The Israel Festival has a deep belief in the power of art to express new points of reference, open up people to the recognition of the ‘other,’ and to promote understanding and tolerance.”