The Shmooze

Boycotting the Boycotters of the Ariel Cultural Center

By Nathan Jeffay

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The Ariel Cultural Center — a 530-seat auditorium for settlers in the heart of the West Bank — opened this week. Much has been written about anger among left-leaning actors, writers and directors, some of whom plan to boycott the venue.

Now, we have a boycott of the boycotters. A large stage props firm, Hayik Bamot, is refusing to work with any company that employs an actor that has refused to perform at Ariel.

Yitzchak Hayik, the company’s owner, wrote in a statement to clients, suppliers and friends “that just as artists, playwrights and actors refuse to perform before our brothers, neighbors and friends in Ariel, so do I refuse to take part in any play, production or musical that has the initiators of this boycott among its creators and participants,” according to the pro-settler site Israel National News.

Clients were “requested in no uncertain terms not to send our firm any price offer or tender to a play whose creators include that bunch of holier-than-thou bleeding hearts who are tearing our nation apart,” the statement read.

Instead of arguing that there’s no moral problem with performing in the settlements, Hayik invokes an unusual argument that “many of Israel’s cities are at least partly situated atop areas that Arabs were evicted from,” inferring that performing in any Israeli theater is just as morally problematic as performing in Ariel.

In another move to counter the boycotters, this time by bolstering nationalism within the arts, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat has decided to establish an award for theater, art works and films that deal with the theme of Zionism. You can read more here.


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