Response Letter to Shakespeare's Globe

 12 January, 2012

Dear Shakespeare’s Globe,


Thanks for sharing your thoughts and inner conflicts with us.[1] We are grateful that you have deliberated it sincerely and have raised a few questions. Let’s focus on those that you find tough:


Why Israel?

Given that we have asked you to exclude Habima, Israel’s national theater group (hardly including any Arab actors), from your Globe to Globe Festival, you confess that you find “active exclusion… a profoundly problematic stance to take”. “Where does one start in such an endeavour?” you ask. Indeed, evil is widely practiced by more than one government. Regardless, your question ‘why Israel?’ is easy to answer: Start with Israel because the Palestinian Civil Society has asked you to:

On July 6, 2004, the Palestinians issued a call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel, asking artists like yourselves to refrain from any collaboration and any form of academic and cultural cooperation with Israeli institutions, because these institutions are complicit in maintaining the oppression of the Palestinian people even “through their silence”;[2] Habima, was not even just silent. In violation of international law Habima performed in an illegal settlement in the OccupiedPalestinianTerritory – the town of Ariel.

On July 9, 2005, the Palestinian Civil Society issued a call asking every single individual in the international community to help them by applying nonviolent measures - boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) - against Israeli institutions until Israel ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands, dismantles the Wall, recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, and respects, protects, and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.[3] 

Excluding Habima would be a small but vital step in this direction - your humble but necessary and courageous contribution to the liberation of the Palestinian people.


Why Hebrew?


We can also relate to your wish to ensure that the festival “is truly an international event”. You highlight your “commitment to universality”. But commitment to universality must assume commitment to universal values. Languages, which you say are what you intend to celebrate, are not created or used in a void. Today in Israel/Palestine Hebrew is the language of the abuser of human rights. It is the language by means of which criminal oppression is exercised. Hebrew, our native language, is tainted by the policies of the Israeli government with which Habima cooperates expressly by performing in the OccupiedPalestinianTerritory. To treat Hebrew as a language among the languages, the Israeli government should reform its unlawful practices. Otherwise Hebrew will be associated with violation of human rights.

You have a chance, then, to raise your voice. You are obliged, by your moral standards, to try and disengage yourself from Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinian civil society.

Why act?


You feel that “that people meeting and talking and exchanging views is preferable to isolation and silence”. This boils down to saying that adopting a business as usual attitude (given that Israel has not yet been excluded from the international community) will be more effective in bringing on justice than actively expressing your disapproval of wrongdoing.  Why act, then, you ask, when simply being nice and collegial, or civilized will do the trick? Well, it won’t (and hasn’t)! As long as Israel and its institutional representatives are welcome everywhere, not least in the “west”, Israel sees no need to reconsider its immoral policies. On the contrary, it feels free to escalate them, since nobody looks or cares.

            There are many voices expressing disapproval of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories as well as its discrimination against its own Palestinian citizens (within the 67 borders). On June 17, 2011, the UN assembly singled out Israel as a violator of human rights: 154 countries supported this critical agenda, 4 were against it (including Israel). And although on February 18, 2011, the US vetoed a resolution on the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that was supported by all 14 of the other members of the UN Security Council, the fact that "the resolution was sponsored by 130 member countries before being presented to the Council, including all of its closest European allies"[4] says it all. In an unprecedented 27-page report, European Union envoys in Israel have voiced concern about the Israel’s treatment of its Arab minority. According to the draft report dated November 2011, the EU ambassadors observed, among other things, that "Israel's Arab population is measurably worse off than its non-Arab majority in terms of income, education, housing and access to land".[5] 

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor" said Archbishop Desmund Tutu. We urge you to reconsider our appeal. Do not remain silent. Act and make a difference!




Members and supporters of

BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within