Theater revival: Call to boycott Ariel center is back
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Theater revival: Call to boycott Ariel center is back

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli artists and academics revived their call for actors to boycott a new theater in a West Bank town.

Three days before the Ariel Cultural Center was set to open Sunday, dozens of artists and academics published an open letter directed at the Beersheva Theater actors who will present the opening show urging them to boycott the center.

Ariel was built on occupied Palestinian land, the letter said, and that "just several kilometers from the thriving and flourishing Ariel, Palestinians live in refugee camps, in harsh living conditions and without any basic human right. Not only are they not entitled to see performances in Ariel, some of them have no access to running water."

Ariel “was founded for only one purpose: to prevent Palestinians from being able to build an independent state, and by extension, preventing us, citizens of Israel, from having the chance to live in peace in this region,” the letter also said.

The letter follows a petition, signed by more than 50 artists in August, urging a boycott of the cultural center. Days later the petition was followed by a letter of support for the boycott signed by more than 150 Israeli academics.

On Sunday, the Yisrael Beiteinu Party said it would work to halt government funding to theater professionals who call for a boycott of the Ariel cultural center.

"These artists have a right to free speech but not to the taxpayers’ money," party chairman Avigdor Lieberman said. "Those who call Israel an apartheid state shouldn’t enjoy the fruits of Israel’s labor. The show must go on, but the incitement against the state must stop."