May 29, 2012

EDITOR: Last night successful action against Habimah

Below you can read some competing versions of the reporting on the event: Tony Greenstein version is based on what took place inside, while the Haaretz and Ynet report what they wanted to see.

Tony Greenstein’s blog

As Bob Dylan noted, there’s no success like failure, but failure’s no success at all.  So it was with Habimah’s distinctively unimpressive Merchant of Venice.  Indeed it is ironic that the ‘Jewish’ State’s only contribution to the Globe’s Shakespeare Festival was to stage a recreation of Shylock and Shakespeare’s depiction of Venetian anti-Semitism.

After a group of us had met at a secret location in Central London we made our way to the Globe.  We had no illusions that the security in place would make our job difficult but in a sense it didn’t matter.  The very fact that Zionist Theatre can only perform under unprecedented lock-down conditions guaranteed that we had already won.

There was an especially large police presence to ensure that the theatre production could go ahead.

I was convinced that I personally wouldn’t get in, being one of the better known anti-Zionists on the scene.  However the triumph of innocence won out as I strolled passed the intense security and a blind Jonathan Hoffman to take my position in the ‘pit’.

No sooner had the performance begun than the interruptions began.  A group of women in the balcony unfolded a banner and were the object of the attentions of some quite vicious stewarding but to no avail.  One of the women, who shall remain nameless, persisted in her protest throughout the first half, having a large plaster across her mouth to symbolise the silenced voice of the Palestinians.

I was caught by Zionist spotters in the interlude before I could add a harmonious touch but my place was easily filled by others who congregated in the pit.  It was somewhat amusing as Jonathan Hoffman’s even uglier twin, Harvey Garfield and a screaming Martin Sugarman and another Zionist decided to try to detain me.  Unfortunately the overweight Harvey appeared to stumble under his own weight and like all Zionist aggressors started squealing about having been assaulted.  However I had no problem persuading the police that I was lawfully entitled to resist an unprovoked physical attack which was common assault.  The Zionists thought better of trying to have me arrested and I was released without charge.

Given the assaults by the security goons on other protestors, the fact that one protestor has been detained on suspicion of attacking a goon is ludicrous.

When I emerged into the sunshine there was still a healthy Palestinian demonstration and no sign of the Zionists.   Meanwhile the Piza Express opposite functioned as our media centre.  Truth and justice had won out as we made it clear that Brand Israel and the Culture of Genocide will no longer be allowed a free pass.

Israel’s National Theater Company performs in London’s Globe Theater: Haaretz

Pro-Palestinian activists disrupt performance with cries of ‘Free Palestine.’
By Anshel Pfeffer

As the Globe Theater in London increased security ahead of Habima Theater’s performance, actors have vowed to hold hands on stage in the event that pro-Palestinian protestors disrupt the play. Israel' Photo by AFP

The performance of Habima’s new Hebrew production of The Merchant of Venice at the Globe Theater in London, goes as planned though repeatedly interrupted by protesters shouting “Free Palestine.” One protester was arrested.

The two Habima performances have been sold out and the organizers believe that some of the tickets were bought by protestors who are planning to heckle and disturb the performers. At the rehearsal this morning at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater on the south bank of the Thames, Habima’s actors decided that if the heckling would get too loud to continue with the play, all the actors, including those behind the scenes, would join hands on the stage and wait for the hecklers to be ejected. Lead actor, Yakov Cohen, playing the role of Shylock said that if Israelis in the audience will try and shout back at the hecklers, he will ask them in Hebrew “not to descend to that level.”

Habima’s artistic director, Ilan Ronnen, who is directing the play, said at the rehearsal that “this is not the first time that there are demonstrations when we are performing abroad. Usually, they are outside the theater. In this case, it is a special situation since the Globe has 700 standing places close up to the actors. As far as I know, most of the people who bought tickets are coming to see a play and express their love for theater, that’s all. We will make every effort that the play will go on.”

The pro-Palestinian activists have targeted Habima for its performances in the new concert hall at the West Bank settlement of Ariel. While the Globe has not cancelled its plans to host Habima, it issued last week an unprecedented list of regulations regarding security and maintenance of order during the two performances, following discussions with London’s Metropolitan Police.

Among other procedures, entrance to the theater will be only allowed through one gate and ticket holders are requested to arrive early since they will have to undergo “extensive checks of bags” and possibly “random body searches.” The Globe management stressed that it “reserves the right to refuse admission to anyone we have reason to believe may cause a disruption to the performance.”

In addition, the theater announced that “the use of any annoying, disruptive or dangerous behavior, foul or abusive language or obscene gestures, the removal of shirts or clothing likely to cause offence and climbing onto any building/wall or other structure is forbidden and may result in ejection.”

Man held at Globe theatre protest: Guardian

One man arrested on suspicion of assault after pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted a performance by Israeli theatre company

Company was performing The Merchant of Venice when a small number of demonstrators unfurled banners and displayed a Palestinian flag. Photograph: Alamy

A man was arrested after pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted a performance by the Israeli national theatre company at London’s Globe theatre.

Tel Aviv’s Habima company was performing Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice during the Globe to Globe festival when a small number of demonstrators unfurled banners and displayed a Palestinian flag.

One man was arrested on suspicion of assault on a security guard and remains in police custody, Scotland Yard said.

A spokeswoman from the protest group Boycott Israel Network said 15 demonstrators stood up during the performance with Palestinian flags and a banner. Two more protesters were removed shortly after the interval, she added.

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, co-ordinator with the Boycott Israel Network, said: “This campaign is not an attack on individual artists; we are not censoring the content of their work nor are we concerned about their ethnicity or the language they speak.

“As with South African sport in the apartheid era, this is about refusing to allow culture to be used to whitewash oppression.”

Protester Zoe Mars said: “We tried non-violently to convey the message that culture may not be used to give a civilised gloss to a state that perpetrates human rights abuses.”

The Globe to Globe festival features all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays being performed in 37 languages, from Urdu to Swahili, over six weeks.

A Metropolitan police spokesman said: “I can confirm that officers arrested a man at 9.15pm on suspicion of assault on a security guard outside the Globe Theatre. He remains in custody.”

Palestinians disrupt Habima performance in London: Ynet

Pro-Palestinians demonstrating against national company’s performances in the West Bank, disrupt showing of The Merchant of Venice at London’s Globe Theater
Rona Zinman
The show must go on: Pro-Palestinian protestors disrupted the performance of the Habima National Theater Company’s The Merchant of Venice at the Globe Theater in London on Monday, but the actors proved they were true professionals – carrying on with the show.

During the performance, a new Hebrew production of the Merchant of Venice which is part of the “Globe to Globe” festival, some 10 Palestinian demonstrators in the audience suddenly began waving Palestinian flags and signs against Israel.

Security personnel removed them from the theater. Later on, another group stood up with band-aids plastered to their mouths.
The protests began outside the theater with dozens standing with Palestinian flags and signs calling for an end to the “Israeli Apartheid regime” as well as for a boycott on Israeli products.
The Pro-Palestinians were demonstrating against the Habima performance over the fact that Israel’s national theater company previously performed in the West Bank.
Meanwhile, pro-Israeli demonstrators also gathered outside the theater waving Israeli flags with signs that read: Culture unites, Boycotts divide. They also expressed their support for the Israeli actors.

Author of ‘The Invention of the Jewish People’ vents again: Haaretz

The concept of homeland is one of the most amazing and most ruinous of the modern era, says Prof. Shlomo Sand.
By Dalia Karpel     | May.24, 2012 | 12:34 PM |   9

Shlomo Sand. Photo by Yanai Yechiel

The concept of homeland is one of the most amazing and also, perhaps, one of the most ruinous of the modern era, says Prof. Shlomo Sand. In his new book, “When and How Was the Land of Israel Invented?” ‏(Kineret, Zmora-Bitan Dvir, Hebrew‏), Sand examines the attitude of the Zionist movement toward that territory since its inception. More particularly, he is out to discover how Zionism adopted the idea of the “historic right” to that land, and consolidated an ethos based on the memory of an ancient people whose ancestors were Hebrews who lived in the Kingdom of Judah in the First and Second Temple periods. According to Sand, the Land of Israel was not the historic homeland of the Jewish people.

“Zionism plundered the religious term ‘Land of Israel’ [Eretz Yisrael] and turned it into a geopolitical term,” he says. “The Land of Israel is not the homeland of the Jews. It becomes a homeland at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th − only upon the emergence of the Zionist movement.”

Sand’s previous book, “The Invention of the Jewish People” ‏(Verso, 2009; translated by Yael Lotan‏), stirred a furor. Sand rejected the existence of a Jewish people that was exiled two millennia ago and survived. The majority of the Jews of Eastern Europe, he maintained, are descendants of societies or of individuals who were converted to Judaism on European soil. This concept flagrantly contradicts Israel’s Declaration of Independence, according to which “Eretz-Israel ‏(the Land of Israel, Palestine‏) was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books” [source: Israeli Foreign Ministry]. Sand argues that for 2,000 years the Jews did not constitute a people and that only religion, belief and culture united them.

It was to be expected that “The Invention of the Jewish People” would not be greeted in Israel with great acclaim. However, its author admits that he did not imagine the book “would fall with the impact of a bomb.” The negative reactions have been diverse. Some rejected outright the principal conclusion and the historical facts on which it was based, while others dismissed the research and claimed there was nothing new in the book, that everything was known and accepted, at least by historians. ‏(For a slightly different reason he was also disappointed when the Arabic-language edition of the book was published in Ramallah: Sand was not invited to the book launch, though he was hosted at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem by the institution’s president, Prof. Sari Nusseibeh.‏)

That was about four years ago, but the hostility toward him seems to be intensifying. Recently, he says, he has been receiving more hate mail and getting obscene phone calls. Last week, he received an envelope in the mail that contained a white powder and a letter branding him an “anti-Semite” and a “Jew hater,” together with a promise that his days were numbered.

“The Invention of the Jewish People” was on Israel’s best-seller lists for 19 weeks and has been translated into 16 languages. Editions in Chinese, Korean, Indonesian and Croatian are in the works. In March 2009, he received the Aujourd’hui Award, presented by French journalists for a leading nonfiction political or historical work. Previous winners of the award include renowned scholars such as Raymond Aron and George Steiner.

Sand also racked up a lot of flying time en route to lecture on the book in France, Britain, Canada, the United States, Belgium, Japan, Russia, Germany, Slovenia, Morocco, Bulgaria, Hungary, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Italy. His desk drawer and inbox contain hundreds of letters from around the world, from both Jews and adherents of other religions, taking issue with him.
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