British cultural figures decry Israeli theater


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Three dozen British directors, writers and actors called on Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London to cancel an invitation to an Israeli theater company.

In an open letter published March 29 in The Guardian, the cultural figures expressed "dismay and regret" that Israel’s National Theater, Habima, will perform "The Merchant of Venice" in the Globe to Globe festival in April.

The six-week festival at the Globe will feature Shakespeare’s 37 plays performed in 37 languages. A Palestinian theater company is scheduled to perform "Richard II” in Arabic.

Habima "has a shameful record of involvement with illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory," the letter said, citing the fact that the company has agreed to perform in the culture centers of two large Israeli settlements and threatened repercussions against any actors or directors who decide out of conscience not to perform there. 

"By inviting Habima, Shakespeare’s Globe is undermining the conscientious Israeli actors and playwrights who have refused to break international law," the letter said.

Among the signatories to the letter are actress Emma Thompson and playwright Caryl Churchill.

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