GUEST POST: "Why is Israel the Exception?" Asks Protester Thrown Out of Globe Theatre
On Monday 28th May 2012, the two day caravan fest of Israel’s apartheid promoting wagon, Habima, rolled into town faced with vehement anti-Israel Apartheid Protests. Criticism is levied against Habima, National Theatre of Israel and the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London for hosting them; they serve to support and promote Israel’s Apartheid. The Russell Tribunal Session held in South Africa in November 2011 found that Israel infringes International law and must be prosecuted for its international crimes which include Apartheid & Persecution.
The Issue with Habima
Habima is an extension of the State of Israel’s political public relations arm which attempts to use ‘theatrical culture’ to whitewash Israel’s crimes. Israel spends millions of pounds and devotes large scale resources in an attempt to create and promote a globally appealing public face and silence dissent on the truth of its criminal conduct.
Habima, with full knowledge of the global call to boycott illegal Israeli settlements, is determined to continue and regularly performs to settlement audiences. Palestinians in neighbouring villages are physically excluded from attending. Habima does this in cahoots with Israeli State Officials and its activities are funded by the State of Israel. Israel’s foreign ministry contributed £10,000 towards Habima’s London visit to the Globe.
Other Israeli Theatre Professionals have refused to Perform in illegal Israeli Settlements so WHY NOT HABIMA?
Illegal Settlements in Ariel and Kiryat Arba in the West Bank have created ‘halls of culture’ inviting many theatres to perform there. In 2011, numerous Israeli theatrical professionals publically refused to participate in such performances and their noble stance was supported by many fellow Hollywood celebrities.
The World Shakespeare Festival is aware that Habima works to legitimise & support Illegal Activity yet refused the Global Call to Boycott Habima
‘Boycott from Within’, a group of Palestinians, Jews and citizens of Israel who support the campaign to Boycott, Divestment from and Sanction Israel, in order to work towards the ‘promotion of just peace and true democracy’ in the region, wrote to the Directors of the World Shakespeare festival in 2012. Their letter informed directors that Israeli actors themselves have refused to perform in Israel’s illegal settlements and included the following statements:
‘The dissident Israeli theatre professionals have argued that the West bank settlements had been created in violation of International Law and with the specific aim of blocking any possibility of achieving peace with the Palestinians; that the expropriation of land in an occupied territory and the creation and maintenance of armed settlement enclaves are the very opposite of what is commonly termed "Culture"; and that therefore, a settlement maintaining a "Hall of Culture" was a blatant contradiction in terms. …however, on this issue the management of Habima has taken a position which is remote from any kind of social engagement. Claiming to be "non-political", the management has reiterated its decision to perform in West Bank settlements, "like everywhere else". Moreover, the management specifically promised Limor Livnat, Minister of Culture in the Netanyahu Government, to "deal with any problems hindering such performances", i.e. to pressure recalcitrant actors into taking part in them, even against the dictates of their conscience. And it must be pointed out that for several months, Habima has indeed sent out its actors to hold theatrical performances in West Bank settlements, on a regular basis.’
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre refused the Global Call to Boycott Habima
The Shakespeare Globe Theatre attempted to suggest that by inviting both Palestinian and Israeli Theatre to their festival, they are somehow promoting harmony. I understand that the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is funded by the National lottery.
Habima’s Opening Night Performance at the Globe, greeted by Anti-Israeli Apartheid Campaigners
Over 50 Human Rights campaigners gathered outside the Globe, in a protest organised by PSC. A counter protest was organised with Israeli Propagandists waving their symbol of Apartheid Israel – ‘Their Israeli Flag’.
There was a clear distinction between how the two protests were policed. Both protests had pens and whilst the police insisted that Anti-Israeli Apartheid Campaigners remain tightly confined within their pen, the Apartheid Israel propagandists were at liberty to venture freely outside of theirs with posters, banners and flags. The Palestine Solidarity protest was set back at least 50 metres from the entrance to the globe and around a corner, whilst the Israeli apologist demonstration was within a few metres of the main entrance.
Protesters Evaded High Scale Globe Security & Conducted Peaceful Protest inside the Globe during Habima’s Performance
Whilst campaigners on the outside were prevented from entering within a few metres of the globe grounds, which were heavily policed by an approximately 50 London Met officers, through the glass campaigners could see inside the foyer. A young man had been detained and was surrounded by police officers for over 20 minutes. His hands were held behind his back as large globe security persons stood in front of the window in an attempt to obstruct campaigner’s views. When he eventually came outside he was greeted by large cheers. He kindly explained what had happened to him inside.
A Protester from Denmark had much to say about Apartheid Israel, Habima & The Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
He explained he had unfolded a banner inside the theatre during Habima’s performance which read ‘no to apartheid Israel’. He said, “One security guard shouted scum at me, they got physical with me, they grabbed me by my hands, lots of police were there, obviously it’s not illegal to put a banner up, that’s called freedom of speech, right? Everyone’s allowed to do it and Israel is an apartheid State so it’s the least we can do…Israel is the one allowed to put on their national theatre here, they are the ones that have the priviledges, we just go in and protest, put up banners, we didn’t say anything, we just let the words speak; the truth is apparently too much for these people.”
In reference to the London Mets policing he replied, “Obviously a complete over reaction…There are like 50 police officers here. There has never been any threat of violence.”
How did you manage to get your banner in, did they not Check?
“No, it was easy, if you have been through Israeli security. This was easy compared to that.”
Have you been to Israel?
“I have been to occupied Jerusalem, that’s the only place I have been to.”
What was your experience of it?
“Blatant racism wherever you walk. You go to Jerusalem you see the light rail that goes through the city but it only connects the centre of the city to the settlements…Palestinians aren’t allowed on the rail. I went to see the wall in Bethlehem, it’s obvious, its complete racism, its apartheid. The friends I was staying with there, when they were kids, before they were teenagers they were shot by the Israeli military. They go to sleep and they have IDF soldiers with sniper rifles up in the towers in Bethlehem by the wall. What kind of life is that? They live in refugee camps. They were born in refugee camps and they have lived their entire life in refugee camps.”
Have you visited any refugee Camps?
“Yes, in Bethlehem. It’s terrible, you go to Jerusalem to the western bit of Jerusalem and you see just how much wealth there is there… and how privileged people are and then you go to Bethlehem and it’s a completely different world. It’s like 20 minutes away and people there live in intense poverty and are victims of racism on a daily basis. To me it’s very obvious. If people go and see it with their own eyes its very obvious. Either you are with humanity or you are against equality for everyone.”
What do you think of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre’s decision to wilfully continue to host Habima’s performance today and tomorrow?
“Well, I think it’s quite an atrocity actually. I believe in a full cultural, academic and economic boycott of Israel until they allow the right of refugees to return to Palestine and until they dismantle the occupation, until there is full equality for Palestinians. I think that’s an entirely reasonable demand".
"Today I saw people calling for full economic boycott of Syria, Iran and all these other countries so why is Israel the exception? We are always asked, ‘why do you single out Israeli, why do you always target Israel? No, it’s not us that target Israel; our governments don’t want to target Israel so somebody has to do it. If the politicians don’t want to do it, then we have to do it. So that’s why I believe in a full boycott, especially of settlement goods… they are the worst of the worst".
"The atrocities and the illegalities there are so glaringly obvious, if you go and see it or if you talk to any Palestinian, even any Palestinian here or any Palestinian diaspora they will tell you the stories from their family. To me, it’s obvious. I have no vested interest in this conflict. I am not Muslim. I am not Jewish. I am not Arab, nothing like that. I see things on the TV, you go and talk to actual people and you go and visit the place and it’s very obvious."
It’s clear to me that Habima is an agent of Apartheid Israel. The parallels between South African apartheid and Israeli apartheid are similar. South Africa used its national rugby team to promote itself abroad in a bright and progressive light. There were large scale anti-apartheid protests against the South African rugby team which supported an end to South African apartheid. Neither am I surprised by the UK Governments support of apartheid Israel. Again, Thatcher’s government was one of the last to withdraw its support for apartheid South Africa. Apartheid was wrong in South Africa and is wrong in Israel. Please support the Palestinian call to Boycott, Divest from and Sanction Israel. For more information please visit – www.bdsmovement.net
With thanks, Assalamalaikum, peace be upon you.