Crowd protests artists’ Ariel boycott of cultural center
Dozens of people hold demonstration in front of Tel Aviv’s Cameri Theater.
By BEN HARTMAN
Dozens of people held a demonstration in front of Tel Aviv’s Cameri Theater on Tuesday to protest a boycott launched in late August by members of the theater community against the Ariel Cultural Center, located across the Green Line in the northern West Bank.The protest came ahead of a panel discussion featuring a number of the Israeli actors, directors, and writers who signed the boycott letter. It also coincided with the showing of a play directed by letter signatory Adna Mazia and the play Oy, God, written by boycott participant Anat Gov.Standing behind a barricade, waving Israeli flags and holding signs that read “Ariel is Israel” among others, the protesters shouted “Trash!” and “Go to Gaza!” at the theater.Yuri of Rishon Lezion said he came to the protest because “we are Zionists and patriots.These people think places like Ariel, only a half hour away from here, are in a different country. They’re boycotting Jews; this is the same as a doctor saying he won’t treat children in Ariel.”Meir, a resident of the Sharon region, said he came to the Tel Aviv protest “to show them that they don’t represent the people, only maybe three percent of them.”“This boycott policy is just wrong,” Meir added.At one point, theater attendee Nehama confronted the protest, telling them that they are trying to shut people up who are practicing their democratic rights.“As a private citizen, I don’t believe this is an issue of right-wing or left-wing; it’s about democracy. These people [the protesters] are trying to use thuggish behavior and curses to shut up people they don’t agree with who are practicing their democratic rights.”When asked whether the fact that the actors receive state funding makes the matter different, she replied, “Oh, and the settlers don’t receive state funding. How much state funding does Ariel receive?” In late August, following reports that several major theater houses are scheduled to perform at the Ariel Cultural Center following its opening in November, 36 theater professionals issued a letter in which they vowed not to perform at the center because of its location in the West Bank.The move was met by widespread criticism from numerous political leaders, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
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