We’re back to the Middle Ages, to the darkness of boycotts and ostracism on behalf of those who know better than us what’s proper and what isn’t. Their source of authority is their talent, fame, and the limelight. After all, they crowned themselves as “men of letters” and as such they have plenty to say. You better listen to them, or else you would be banished from the space of sanity and from all the goodness offered by this State’s theater district.
They already published a first letter, and now they are issuing another warning. What we have is a theatrical reality here: Artists who boycott those who disagree with them on the political front, and on the other hand a rightist camp that boycotts the artists. All we need now is enthused youngsters on both sides to throw the other side’s texts into the bonfire of enlightenment, and there you have the epitome of progress.
I tried to understand what the protesting artists want, and this is what I discovered: The artists seek to inform their colleagues that Ariel is an occupied area; an illegal settlement. They also want people to know that not too far away from this wicked town, which boasts the despicable new cultural hall, Palestinians live in abject poverty, and all because of the settlers.
Well, it’s hard to contend with the innovative information about Ariel being occupied land (just like vast areas in the Galilee and Negev in our tiny country.) It’s certainly hard to object to the humane solidarity with the state of refugee camp dwellers (who had been under Palestinian control ever since Oslo.) However, I discovered that I have some reservations about the word “illegal” and the boycott conclusions drawn from it.
What about other laws?The city of Ariel is legal according to a decision taken by the State of Israel, which is a sovereign state. We can argue whether this was a proper decision, yet this is a legitimate disagreement that in a democracy is settled by a majority decision. Yes, those ignorant masses outside the theater halls; these people who time after time vote differently than the “men of letters.”
In addition to the legal settlements (some settlements are defined as illegal,) there are dozens of Israeli laws that have been passed in the past. I feel the need to remind the protesting artists of this, as they raised the rule of law banner. For example, there is the duty to join the army at 18. I personally know at least three of the protesting artists who chose to disregard this issue. I also know some artists who disregard the laws against smoking various substances. There’s also the ban on discriminating against various groups: Arabs, rightists, and people who bought a home in Ariel, for example.
It’s important for me to stress that I do not disparage the views of the artists, even though some of them took the Shakespearean dictum “the whole world is a stage” literally. I believe that the artists who signed the petition did it because they are convinced in the righteousness of their ways. I also strongly object to the counter-boycotts by the Yesha Council. Nobody will prevent me from reading David Grossman’s books, even if tomorrow he shall claim that the settlers are responsible for the hole in the ozone layer.
Using the same logic, I strongly object to the trap the artists are laying for themselves; the boycott weapon of the dark Middle Ages. The gun they directed at Ariel in the first act may end up being directed at the Jerusalem Theater in the occupied Katamon. And before the curtain falls, this gun may, heaven forbid, shoot someone in the foot.
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