Hollywood shows some support for Israeli actors' refusal to perform in West Bank settlement
In late August, a new cultural hall in the West Bank settlement of Ariel drew international attention when a group of Israeli actors, directors and playwrights refused to perform in the facility in protest of their country's policies toward Palestinians.
Now, a handful of Hollywood personalities have jumped into the fray by lending their support to the boycott. A statement by the group Jewish Voice for Peace has collected signatures from some high-profile names, including Vanessa Redgrave, Julianne Moore, Cynthia Nixon, Ed Asner, Wallace Shawn, Mandy Patinkin and Focus Features chief executive James Schamus.
The statement praises the Israeli theater artists who have "refused to allow their work to be used to normalize a cruel occupation which they know to be wrong, which violates international law and which is impeding the hope for a just and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike."
Jewish Voice for Peace is a U.S. organization that has sought to end the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and other areas. The group also seeks self-determination for Jewish and Palestinian people.
Among the other signatories of the statement are some prominent U.S. theater artists -- Tony Kushner, Lynn Nottage, Harold Prince, Andre Gregory, Eve Ensler, Kathleen Chalfant, Bill Irwin, David Adjmi, Oskar Eustis and Paula Vogel.
The group of Israeli theater artists who are protesting the cultural hall sent a letter in late August to several prominent theater companies in which they stated their refusal to perform in the facility. They also urged the leaders of the companies to present their performances within Israel's sovereign borders.
According to reports, the new cultural hall in Ariel will open in November and will features 540 seats. The facility will play host to various stage productions produced by companies around Israel.
-- David Ng
Photo: Vanessa Redgrave. Credit: Joel Ryan / Associated Press