The international campaign to support the Israeli actors' refusal to play in the illegal settlement of Ariel gained momentum in Israel last week when well-known Israeli film and television directors and other cultural figures—as well as a group of education students—added their names to the boycott. Settlements are Jewish-only communities built on Palestinian land and are considered by many to be the main obstacle to peace.
The boycott originators, a group of leading Israeli actors and writers who refused to normalize their own government's illegal settlements and who risked their livelihoods for their stance were supported back in August by a ground-breaking letter organized by US peace group Jewish Voice for Peace and signed by over 250 theater and film professionals representing some of the most respected and renowned artists in theater and film. Signers included Frank Gehry, Daniel Barenboim, Stephen Sondheim, Julianne Moore, Ethan Hawke, Mira Nair, Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon, Tony Kushner, Harold Prince, Mandy Patinkin, Theodore Bikel, Jennifer Tilly, Miriam Margolyes, Ed Asner, Wallace Shawn, Vanessa Redgrave and James Schamus among many others.
The Israeli film and television directors who recently joined the boycott include Yaron London, a leading journalist and several prominent theater and culture figures such as film director Eitan Fux, artist and critic Yair Garbuz, television director and activists Doron Tzabari, theatre director Yehoshua Sobol. The students are members of a leading Israeli education college, whose final projects were to be presented in Ariel, a settlement deep within the West Bank. Prime Minister Netanyahu, who was being heckled by members of Young, Jewish, and Proud and visiting the United States during the opening of the Ariel cultural center and theater, accused supporters of the boycott of "cutting into the living flesh of us all."
All in all, several dozen prominent Israelis urged actors not to perform in the settlement.
Meanwhile, silence from groups in the United States that are quick to attack critics of Israeli policies shows how indefensible the settlement policy has become.
The support campaign's organizer, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), is a national membership organization dedicated to building a movement for a just peace based on human rights, equality, and international law for all the peoples of Israel and Palestine.
Cecilie Surasky, Jewish Voice for Peace Deputy Director said, “The spread of this movement, from Israel to North America and the United Kingdom and back shows that all of us have a part to play in the struggle for human rights and equality. Both the courageous response of prominent Israelis and the vitriol heaped upon them show that Israel is keenly aware of its standing in the world, and vulnerable to pressure from individuals of conscience everywhere."