Israeli actor refuses to perform in West Bank theater


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli actor Rami Baruch said he will not perform at a new cultural center in Kiryat Arba, a Jewish suburb of Hebron.

Baruch, who was scheduled to perform his play "Pollard" at the cultural center’s opening Sept. 19, announced his decision Sunday, saying that according to his contract with the Cameri Theater he does not have to perform in the West Bank.

"I made a decision, understanding that it could lead to financial ramifications and counter-boycotts," Baruch said. "Kiryat Arba is where Baruch Goldstein and Kahane came from, and I asked myself what is my place in this whole story."

Baruch in the play portrays jailed American spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard. Noam Semel, director of the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv, said the theater would deal with the matter internally.

The center was built with public funds from three Israeli government ministries, as well as from private donations.

Theater professionals signed a petition a year ago stating that they would not perform in a new cultural center in the West Bank city of Ariel that was built with more than $10 million in public funds. The boycott spurred a controversial Israeli boycott law that would allow for civil lawsuits against individuals and groups calling for anti-Israel boycotts.

Meanwhile, opposition members in the Kiryat Arba City Council have called for a committee to approve the productions staged at the theater, including vetting the actors to make sure they have served in the Israeli military and requiring them to sign a loyalty oath to Israel.


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