Theater goers arriving at the premiere of the opera Porgy and Bess at the Tel Aviv Opera House on Monday found themselves in the eye of a political storm. Shortly before the opera, performed by South Africa's Cape Town Opera, around 40 left-wing activists held a protest rally and sang slogans denouncing Israel using paraphrased numbers from the songs performed on stage.
Facing the protestors was a small group of right-wing protestors who held a rally in support of Israel. The leftists' protest, which included members of Anarchists Against the Wall, The Coalition of Women for Peace and others called out: "Palestine, life there isn't easy", "Fascism is at the door" and more.
Among the numbers sung, one song that received a new "adaptation" was: "You have come here to the house to hear a story from long ago, a story filled with pain, touching, oh, it reminds me of here. Stop apartheid, enough, it's time".
A small group of right-wing protestors waved Israeli flags and signs that read: "We are all Israel. We are all Ariel" – referring to the ongoing storm surrounding the opening of a cultural center in the city which is beyond the Green Line. Other signs were directed at supporters of a cultural boycott of the center.
Protestors outside the Tel Aviv Opera House (Photo: Dudu Azulay)
The activists called: "Ariel residents serve in the IDF and watch over you so that you can go to the theater, shame on you".
The Cape Town's opera troupe's performance has generated condemnation from South Africa itself. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu called on the singers to reconsider the Israel performance.
However, the opera's managing director Michael Williams said upon arrival in Israel that "the role of culture is to create a bridge between different nations and culture, to lead to understanding".
Boaz Fyler contributed to the report
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