A new cultural center was inaugurated in the town of Kiryat Arba, next to Hebron on Monday night. As predicted, several high-profile actors have refused to perform at the center. The center was built with public funds from three Israeli government ministries, and of course with moneys from private donators. Altogether, there were more than 500 artists signed a petition in recent days calling for a boycott of the center.
Earlier in the month, actor Rami Baruch said he would not perform in his play “Pollard” at the center’s opening.
“I made a decision, understanding that it could lead to financial ramifications and counter-boycotts…Kiryat Arba is where Baruch Goldstein and Kahane came from, and I asked myself what is my place in this whole story.” said Baruch, who plays the lead role in a drama based on the story of Jonathan Pollard, the civilian U.S. Navy analyst who was convicted of spying for Israel. “
“The opening of a culture center in Kiryat Arba, which is Hebron, is our Zionist and political answer. We are here—we are not strangers in our own homeland,”
Theater professionals signed a petition a year ago stating that they would not be performing in a new cultural center in the West Bank city of Ariel which was built with more than $10 million in public funds.
In 2010, an op-ed on Ynet read:
We’re back to the Middle Ages, to the darkness of boycotts and ostracism on behalf of those who know better than us what’s proper and what isn’t. Their source of authority is their talent, fame, and the limelight. After all, they crowned themselves as “men of letters” and as such they have plenty to say. You better listen to them, or else you would be banished from the space of sanity and from all the goodness offered by this State’s theater district.
They already published a first letter, and now they are issuing another warning. What we have is a theatrical reality here: Artists who boycott those who disagree with them on the political front, and on the other hand a rightist camp that boycotts the artists. All we need now is enthused youngsters on both sides to throw the other side’s texts into the bonfire of enlightenment, and there you have the epitome of progress.