From Israeli citizens to the National Theatre of Oslo: Habima Whitewashes Israel’s TERRORisms

Dear Sir/Madam We are citizens of Israel opposed to our government’s policies of colonization, racism, military occupation, ethnic cleansing and apartheid against the Palestinian people. It has come to our attention that the National Theatre of Oslo has accepted an invitation by the Union of Theatres of Europe to participate in a collaboration with Israel's Habima Theatre, titled “TERRORisms”.

Our support for the 2005 Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) [1] and its subsequent guidelines for cultural boycott [2] obligate us to inform you of Habima’s role in maintaining Israel’s mechanisms of control over the Palestinian population within Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and Palestinian refugees around the world.
Habima is Israel’s official national theatre. Its declared purpose is to “work for the realizing of socio-national goals [of the state]” [3]. Among those goals, are Israel’s illegal transfer of its civilian population into the Palestinian occupied territories, which is a violation of International law [4]. Habima is in fact complicit in Israel’s brutal, illegal and colonial settlement project in occupied Palestinian territory – a policy which has even impacted the sphere of Israeli Theatre in a very direct manner.
A few years ago, two large settlements – Ariel in the northern part of the West Bank [5] and Kiryat Arba in its south [6] – built "Halls of Culture" and asked theatres to come and present their plays there. Habima has agreed and continues to stage its plays in these illegal halls !
In response, a large group of Israeli theatre professionals – actors, stage directors, playwrights – declared they would not take part in such performances; among them were such well-known people as Joshua Sobol, Edna Mazia, Shmuel Hasfari and Anat Gov.
The aforementioned Israeli theatre professionals received much support from colleagues abroad, such as Stephen Sondheim, Mary Rodgers, Tony Kushner, Mandy Patinkin, Theodore Bikel, Mira Nair, Julianne Moore, Vanessa Redgrave, Hal Prince and other Broadway and Hollywood stars [7]. Unfortunately, the actors have been professionally, socially and politically intimidated to such an extent that they have stopped speaking out.
Another case in point is a 2012 decision by renowned theatre director Peter Brook, whose Bouffes du Nord theatre troupe was supposed to appear at the International Festival for Plays of the Cameri Theatre with the play “The Suit”, to cancel his arrival, due to theatre’s aforementioned complicity in Israel’s occupation, just like Habima. [8]  
To understand the complete politics behind the scenes of the project you are currently involved in, let us recall that since 2011 the president of the Union of Theatres of Europe is Ilan Ronen, Artistic Director of Habima [8]. This gives him great power in “exporting” Israeli culture, which is a stated goal of Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, which believes that the exporting of culture is a “central means in creating a positive image [for the state].” [9]
In a letter to Hanne Tømta and Thomas Gunnerud, Ronen assures that “Habima’s current production as part of  Int’l “Terrorism Project” deals with an attempt to analyze a terrorist attack from a Palestinian perspective”.  This assertion forces us to question the Israeli contribution to this project, “God Waits at the Station” [10]. The play was written by an Israeli playwright- not a Palestinian- and is premised on the extremely racist notion that fuels Israel’s illegal policy of collective punishment [11] against the Palestinian civilian population under its military control, going as far as targeting pregnant Palestinian women. This is especially insidious, seeing Israel’s systematic mistreatment of Palestinian women in labor [12]. This amounts to justification of these kinds of abuses that at times even result in death.
We are confident that this is not the premise of dialogue that the National Theatre of Oslo intends on having. We hope that by providing this information and political context (an act that has been outlawed by Israel [13]), we can start a dialogue based on facts and solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people, under Israel’s state TERRORisms. And we encourage you to pull out of this project, serving to whitewash Israel’s regime of terror.

Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within (Boycott from Within)
[3] (Hebrew)