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PACBI-Peter Brook and Bouffes du Nord Theatre Troop Respect the Cultural Boycott of Israel

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Refrain Playing Israel | 16 September 2012

Peter Brook and Bouffes du Nord Theatre Troop Respect the Cultural Boycott of Israel

Noted British theater director Peter Brook and the Bouffes du Nord theatre troop of France have honored the call to boycott Israel, and cancelled their planned performances for December of this year in Tel Aviv, Israel.  Huge thanks and gratitude go out to Peter Brook and to all the members of the Bouffes du Nord theatre troop for their courageous decision to stand against apartheid.
The choice by Peter Brook to respect the cultural boycott of Israel so angered the Israeli theater community, that rumors in the press (in Hebrew, translated below) claim legal action may be taken against him.  Apparently, the Israeli "Cameri Theater" in Tel Aviv was so confident that Brook would appease Israel, that they had already begun selling tickets to his show. The theater's own website boasts that it is supported by "The Government of Israel - Ministry of Education and Culture." [1] 
Boycotting products, or cultural events that are related to settlements, are not controversial to some Israelis.  In 2010, nearly 60 theater professionals [2] announced they would refuse to perform at new cultural center built in West Bank settlement of Ariel.  Some reports have also emerged, that some Israelis prefer to avoid, or to boycott, produce grown or products made in illegal settlements.  But these movements are based on co-existence not co-resistance, as "Faces of Hope" stated in 2005. [3]  Gush Shalom, has gone so far as to promote the idea that a boycott of the settlements would actually serve to legitimize Israel [4], and thus promotes such boycotts actively.  Yossi Gurvitz points out in 972+ mag that even Netanyahu promoted a settlement freeze [5] two years ago.  
Apparently, the Cameri home theater troop willingly and openly performs in the illegal settlements in addition to being funded by the Israeli government.  In a similar move 11 months ago, film director  John Michael McDonagh pulled out of his planned appearance at the Haifa International Film Festival.  The Haifa festival is funded by the Israeli Minister of Culture.
English translation of article appearing in the press in Israel:
Protesting Against the Occupation: Theatre Director Peter Brook Cancels his Arrival
The renowned theatre director Peter Brook, whose Bouffes du Nord theatre troop was supposed to appear this coming December at the International Festival for Plays of the Cameri Theatre with the play The Suit, today suddenly announced the cancellation of his arrival. The decision came following pressure by pro-Palestinian groups to cancel his participation as a protest against the occupation.

One of the people who sent a letter to Brook, asking that he cancel his participation in the festival is Dr. Anat Matar, a senior lecturer in the department of philosophy at Tel Aviv university. In her letter Matar [writes... "I believe that decisions about cultural and academic boycott need to be taken after due discretion and not blindly...The issue with the Cameri is its support the oppression of the Palestinians by performing on their occupied land".

In a letter sent by representatives of the BDS organization [sic], which acts for boycott as a sanction against the Israeli occupation in the territories, activists noted the fact that the Cameri gives performances in the settlements, including in Ariel. “From our perspective this is a most important achievement,” says Ofer Neiman, an activist in the Yesh Gvul organization, and amongst those who had contact with Brook and his team and encouraged application of the pressure.

“The Cameri, Habima and Beit Lessin are institutions which appear in settlements in the occupied territories, which are direct partners in violating international law, in Israeli apartheid,” adds Neiman. “It is intolerable that such institutions will receive all sorts of bonuses in the form of collaborations with great directors such as Peter Brook. It is important to note that this isn’t automatic opposition to every visit of Brook to Israel. He can come and show this play in another framework, not in cooperation with a law-breaking theatre. Peace-seeking Israelis are invited to come demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinians living under occupation and to see Peter Brook in Hakawati in East Jerusalem or in a theatre in Ramallah.”

Officials in the Cameri expressed anger at the cancellation, which came after the troop had already confirmed its arrival. Everything was arranged and sale of tickets had already begun. In these very moments an emergency meeting is being held by the board of directors, during which the possibility of submitting a legal petition against Brook will be discussed.

Peter Brook is a well-respected British director. Alongside a long list of theatre works, including numerous productions of Shakespeare, Brook directed a number of films, including an adaption of the classic book by William Golding, Lord of the Flies. In 2005 Brook was awarded the Dan David Prize, in cooperation with Tel Aviv University. In 2008 the National Norwegian Theatre gave Brook the Ibsen Award. Translated from Hebrew.

Posted on 16-09-2012

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