Surely, these words could be applied now to the blacklisting of Israeli artists by those who would claim a higher morality. A letter of dismay was sent to the Guardian a few days ago urging the banning of Israel's national theater, Habima, which is scheduled to perform "The Merchant of Venice" in Hebrew at the London Globe extravaganza, the largest Shakespeare festival ever held. Habima will be one of 37 international companies presenting the Bard's plays in their own languages. Imagine, only Israel, among those 37 participants, has generated any controversy.
|Blacklisted Jewish American actor, Sam Wanamaker, with a model|
of the Globe Theatre.
Some of the other nations represented will be China, Russia, Turkey, 'Palestine', Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Oman, Armenia and Tunisia. Is there one among these with hands cleaner than Israel's? I don't need to remind you of the human rights abuses perpetrated by each and every one of these countries.
But here's the kicker: The person who was most instrumental, who initiated and worked tirelessly to give the Globe Theatre its second life was Sam Wanamaker, the Jewish American actor who was forced to leave the United States to find work in London as a result of being blacklisted from Hollywood during the McCarthy reign of terror. Sadly, he died a few years before seeing the new theatre fully built, but I would like to imagine that he would be very disgusted with this new witchhunt stigmatizing the only Jewish nation.
|The 1925 Hebrew production of "The Golem" in Moscow where |
Habima started life in 1905. It was brought to Tel Aviv in 1928.
The Globe's management, to its credit, is honoring the invitation to Habima, stating, "Habima are the most well-known and respected Hebrew-language theatre company in the world, and are a natural choice to any programmer wishing to host a dramatic production in Hebrew. They are committed, publicly, to providing an ongoing arena for sensible dialogue between Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians." However, the letter calling for a ban is signed by a clique that includes some of Britain's most 'serious' theatre personalities -- as well as some of the usual anti-Zionist suspects -- so you never know, they may win the day.
You will note that the letter makes a distinction between boycotting companies that perform in the settlements as against those who have abided by the call to boycott the disputed territories. But that's a ruse because most of the signatories object to any cultural exchanges with any Israeli performers, films, orchestras, etc., and know very well that the world will conflate the two types of boycott into a generalized delegitimization of all things Israeli.
You may also note how extraordinary it is that an Israeli company would choose to perform 'Merchant' but that's another story.