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[Boycott - Cultural]
Protesting Shakespeare's Globe Theatre 'complicity in human right violations'
10 May 2012
On Saturday 28th April 2012, Palestinian rights activists braved the wet weather to picket outside Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London in protest at the Globe's decision to invite Israel's National Theatre, Habima, to perform The Merchant of Venice in its Globe to Globe festival in May.
Practically everyone entering the theatre took a leaflet
Habima, in contravention of international law, actively support Israel's illegal settlement project. Where as some Israeli artists have refused to perform in the illegal settlements, arguing that they would be breaking international law if they did so, Habima has never had any such qualms and regularly sends its actors to perform for the settlements. They even promised the Israeli minister of culture that they would "deal with any problems hindering such performances", meaning that they would act as the regimes enforcers and exert pressure on any actors who take a moral stance.
All three of the Globe's main entrances and exits were covered by over a dozen activists giving out leaflets and engaging the public who were overwhelmingly supportive (apart from one zionist who totally lost it and started shouting obscenities at everyone until the staff of the Globe came rushing out wondering what the commotion was).
The message was clear - 'Boycott Israel'
The reaction from the Globe was mixed. One members of staff took it upon herself to confiscate and destroy leaflets from members of the public as they entered the theatre! On the other hand the Globe's artistic director Dominic Dromgoole at one stage came out to chat and said he was sorry we had such bad weather for our demo.
Dominic Dromgoole, the artistic director of the Globe, talking to Palestinian rights activists
Perhaps Dominic Dromgoole should take the lead from his predecessor, the first artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe, Mark Rylance who along with 36 other actors and directors including David Calder, Trevor Griffiths, Sonja Linden, Roger Lloyd Pack, Cherie Lunghi, Jonathan Miller, Emma Thompson and Harriet Walter, wrote an open letter to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre which read:
"..by inviting Habima, the Globe is associating itself with policies of exclusion practised by the Israeli state and endorsed by its national theatre company. We ask the Globe to withdraw the invitation so that the festival is not complicit with human rights violations and the illegal colonisation of occupied land."
In Shakespeare's own words "If you prick us do we not bleed?"
Leafleting the exhibition entrance
Engaging with the public
Globe to Globe festival marred by Habima's presence
Sunshine or rain, the protest must go on!
The public were overwhelmingly supportive of the cultural boycott
leafleting the booking office entrance
Wet and windy, the weather did not deter the activists
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"Its important to choose a strategy that doesn't end up diverting attention from the issue.. the other side wants nothing more than to divert attention from what the record shows, what the human rights record shows, what the UN record and so forth - they don't want to talk about that because once they start talking about that they loose. They'd rather talk about anti-Semitism, the Nazi holocaust - anything accept Israel and Palestine. With that in mind you have to be careful that you don't embark on a tactic which is going to end up diverting people from Israel-Palestine.. You don't' want to choose grey areas, you always want to choose black and white areas where there is no room for discussion, where there is no room for debate. This is black and white: World Court decision [wall and settlements illegal] 14 to 1. Human rights issues - Amnesty says Israel tortures, Human Rights Watch says Israel tortures, B'Tselem says Israel tortures, everyone says it - its black and white. And the other side has to end up with some ridiculous proposition as Professor Dershowitz put it 'they're all lying'."
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