JERUSALEM (JTA) — More than 50 Israeli theater professionals have signed a petition saying that they will not perform in a new theater in the West Bank.
The letter signed over the weekend and sent to theater officials came in response to reports that at least four major Israeli theaters are scheduled to mount productions at a cultural center in Ariel scheduled to open Nov. 8. The center, which cost more than $10 million, was built with public funds.
The letter reportedly stated that the teater professionals would not agree to perform in any West Bank settlement.
Israel’s Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat on Saturday called on the theaters to mount the productions as scheduled.
"Culture is a bridge in society, and political disputes should be left outside cultural life and art," Livnat said. "I call for the scheduled performances to be carried out as scheduled in Ariel and all over the country, as each citizen has the right to consume culture anywhere he chooses."
The Habima, Khan, Beersheba and Cameri theaters are scheduled to stage productions in Ariel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting criticized the actors, playwrights and directors who signed the petition.
"The State of Israel is under an attack of delegitimization by elements in the international community. This attack includes attempts to enact economic, academic and cultural boycotts. The last thing we need at this time is to be under such an attack; I mean this attempt at a boycott from within," Netanyahu said Sunday.
"I do not want to deny the right of any person, of any artist, to hold to a political opinion. He or she can express this opinion but we, as a government, do not need to fund boycotts. We do not have to support boycotts directed at Israeli citizens in any manner whatsoever."