October 3rd, 2016
Israeli Citizens in Support of Norwegian Artists’ National Apology Video
Dear National Theatre of Norway,
We write to you as a group of Israeli citizens and residents, who are active against our government's policies of occupation, colonialism and apartheid.
This is not our first letter to the National Theatre of Norway, as we have written to you in the past, seeking your attention, and urging that you reconsider your cooperation with Habima - The National Theatre of Israel. At the time, we had hoped that you may do so once you establish an informed view on Habima’s leading role in the whitewashing of Israeli crimes, as well as its active support of Israeli criminal policies.
In recent days, a group of Norwegian artists have masterfully used their art to express their disapproval of your continued collaboration with Habima and the attempts to silence their criticism on this matter. We share this sentiment, and would like to take the opportunity to publically thank them from the bottom of our hearts. They have raised this important issue and brought it to the front page news on almost every media outlet here in Israel-Palestine and in Norway!
Habima, in its role as the national theatre, heavily cooperates with the Israeli Foreign Ministry in the role of “cultural ambassadors” for the State - it uses the means of theatre as a tool for state propaganda which is aimed at whitewashing Israeli war crimes and violations of international law. Habima also regularly performs in exclusively-Jewish illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, which has also taken place during the time of your collaboration, and which happens to be in violation of the understanding that was reached between the parties.
Norway’s role in supporting Israeli occupation and apartheid is a significant one, including Israel's use of Norwegian made missiles during the most recent massacre in Gaza. In that bloody act of aggression, over 1400 civilians were killed of whom more than 500 were children.
The response to the Norwegian artists’ video by Habima and the Israeli Foreign Ministry leaves no room for doubt as to their volition. In response to artists who seek to promote the basic rights and dignity of all people in Israel-Palestine, Habima has opted for trying to silence the artists and aggressively removing the video from the Internet and blocking its screening, while the Israeli MFA has opted for sheer propaganda using the most outrageous claims available. When referring to a video which sheds light on clear and immediate human rights violations, as if it is reminiscent of Nazi propaganda, that in itself is demonstrative of the level of distortion and propaganda in the very argumentation of the Israeli government. While propaganda is aimed at diverting people’s attention using the most absurd claims, just as the Israeli Foreign Ministry did, the National Apology video aims at exposing the simple and horrible truths which are buried underneath your collaboration with Habima.
These days, the days between the Jewish new year and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), are regarded in the Jewish tradition as the days of repentance, in which it is customary to seek reconciliation with people we may have wronged during the course of the year. It is only appropriate, then, that the artists’ video was titled “National Apology”, in which they seek to undo the damage that has been done by your support of Israeli occupation and apartheid. They offer, instead, that you stand on the right side of history by endorsing Palestinian society’s call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, which is similar in many ways to the global struggle against apartheid in South Africa at the time.
At the same time, we also remember that Norwegian activists and artists were leaders, a few decades ago, in that struggle to end apartheid in South Africa. We take inspiration from their legacy, and call on you to do the same.
How wonderful would it be if Norwegian institutions would lead, once again, the struggle against apartheid! Who is more qualified than artists to speak the universal language of humanity, and join us in demanding equality, freedom and justice for all people in Israel-Palestine? What could be more cultural and more conducive to dialogue, than changing the discourse from a sectarian one to a discourse which brings about full equality, justice and prosperity for all?