A brilliant campaign is underway, created by my former colleagues at Jewish Voice for Peace. They have rallied American and British artists and celebrities to support the performers who are refusing to perform in the newly-built performance center in Ariel.
I wrote about the importance of this action by Israeli performers last week. It is of supreme importance that Israelis make a clear statement that Ariel is not Israel, that it is an illegal settlement and that Israelis are going to resist the attempts by settlers and the government (right up to the Prime Minister) to normalize the settlements and create an atmosphere of normalcy around their existence.
This action, however, is almost as important. Mainstream Israeli figures such as Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman came out in support of the actors, as did many other Israelis. Now, the boycotting artists are receiving support from big names outside of Israel.
This is absolutely crucial. Sure, celebrities don’t make the political decisions, but we all know that when stars come out in support of something, many people take notice.
On this action, JVP got a real list of luminaries: Stephen Sondheim, Cynthia Nixon, Julianne Moore, Theodore Bikel, Ed Asner, Eve Ensler, Tony Kushner, Vanessa Redgrave, Wallace Shawn, Mandy Patinkin, Howard Prince, Jennifer Tilly and many others.
Some of those names are familiar ones around this issue, but many are not, and that really increases the power of the statement. Many of them are Jews with long histories of support for Israel as well.
This is precisely the formula that is needed to bring change, both in Israel and in American policy. It starts with Israelis taking a stand against the occupation, getting support from within and then that larger group getting support from the rest of the world. Continue reading