Israeli actors excused from performing in West Bank theater

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Three Israeli stage actors have been excused from performing in a play staged at a cultural center in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

The cast members, employees of the Cameri and Beit Lessin theaters, will be replaced by understudies for the performances of the acclaimed play “Best Friends,” the theaters said in a statement, the Associated Press reported.

The Cameri said in its statement that is respects the political views of its employees.

“The theater does not force its actors to perform in Ariel. Those who are not interested are replaced by their colleagues. The Cameri Theater chose to allow its actors to exercise their freedom of expression and follow their conscience,” the statement said.

The cultural center in Ariel cost more than $10 million and was built with public funds; it opened in November 2010. More than 50 Israeli theater professionals signed a petition in advance of its opening saying that they would not perform there. At least 150 Israeli academics and authors, and another 150 American and British television and film professionals, also backed the boycott.

Several major Israeli theaters have staged productions at the Ariel center. Ariel is one of the largest Jewish cities in the West Bank.

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