Yes to Culture, No to Censorship

On Monday and Tuesday, Israel most famous theatre company, Habima, will perform ‘The Merchant of Venice’ at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. I will be there to watch the show and also to participate in a counter-demonstration in support of Habima and the Globe Theatre, who stood up and resisted the boycott demands made by the PSC and other anti-Israel groups.

Having been in many demonstrations before I know what to expect from PSC: chants full of hatred, calls for the destruction of Israel, support for suicide bombings and anti-Semitic banners. We, on the other hand, will stand there peacefully proud to support Habima Theatre and to oppose any attempts to boycott it or disrupt the performance.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Strangely enough, the Palestinian company Ashtar who already performed in this year’s festival ‘Richard II’ took a hypocritical stance when saying that ‘while it is not acceptable to censor art, it was imperative to boycott Habima, because it’s an Israeli company’.  The question asked is, did any of the boycotters call for a boycott of the Palestinian group until terrorism against civilians and all incitement against Jews and Israelis stopped?

This attempt to boycott a cultural event is anti-peace and a form of cultural terrorism. Genuine supporters of freedom and co-existence would be appalled at the very idea of a cultural boycott, let alone the singling out of one country. Therefore, if you love culture, please join us and support Habima this week in London.

Tal Ofer is a London-based Member of the European Jewish Parliament

About the Author
Tal Ofer is a former parliamentary researcher and now Deputy at the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He actively fights antisemitism and delegitimisation of Israel. In Summer 2014 he masterminded a campaign to target Tricycle Theater donors, which led to reverse of boycott of UK Jewish Film Festival.