Israel freezes funding for theatre after it refused West Bank settlements show

Israel freezes funding for theatre after it refused West Bank settlements show

A settlement in the West Bank
A settlement in the West Bank
Ma'ale Adumim settlement
Ma’ale Adumim settlement in the West Bank

The Israeli government has been accused of hypocrisy after freezing funding for a theatre in Haifa after it refused to perform in West Bank settlements.

Culture Minister Miri Regev pulled the plug on state funding for the Al-Midan Theater, which had earlier incurred the wrath of right-wingers after performing a play about the life of a Palestinian prisoner.

Critics called Regev’s move a “cultural boycott,” and noted that she had also recently threatened to withdraw funding from the Jerusalem International Film Festival, scheduled for July, if it screened a documentary about Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin. Festival organisers subsequently agreed not to show it.

Jewish community leaders said it was counter-productive to British efforts to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which has frequently targeted Israeli cultural institutions in the UK.

“It feels like she is giving a gift to the BDS movement,” said the UK’s Hannah Weisfeld of Yachad.

“At a time when support for the boycott movement is growing, and many of us in the Anglo-Jewish community are attempting to make the case that culture should remain above politics, it is disappointing to see the Minister for Culture apply her own version of boycott to the arts world.”

She added: “Her actions make it harder to make the argument that Israel and Israeli artists should not be subject to cultural boycott.”

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