Saturday, October 12, 2013

Berliner Ensemble, In the Spirit of Bertolt Brecht, Do not Legitimize Israel's Occupation ! Boycott the Cameri Theatre !

Claus Peymann, Director of the Berliner Ensemble
Dear Mr. Claus Peymann, Director of the Berliner Ensemble,
To the Berliner Ensemble, from Israeli Citizens:  In the Spirit of Bertolt Brecht, Please do not Legitimize Israel's Occupation ! Please Boycott the Cameri Theatre !
We are Israeli citizens who are active against our government’s policies of racism, apartheid and occupation towards the Palestinian people. In particular, many of us are veteran activists in the campaign against Israel’s illegal colonization and settlement construction policies in the occupied West Bank. We have learned of your upcoming collaboration with the Cameri Theatre in the staging of Bertolt Brecht's Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui (The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui).
The Cameri is involved in severe violations of international law, through ongoing performance in the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel. The construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land violates international law, and Israeli actions in the occupied territories amount to war crimes. Ariel is surrounded by walls and fences, and closely guarded by soldiers and armed security personnel. A theatrical performance in a settlement is by definition a performance to an exclusively Israeli audience, with Palestinians living even in the nearest village being physically excluded from attending. By performing under such circumstances, the Cameri profits from, and legitimizes Israel’s illegal colonization policies, and becomes an accomplice to these crimes. As of now, the Cameri has scheduled a production of several plays  in Ariel.
In 2010, a large group of Israeli theatre professionals – actors, stage directors, playwrights – declared they would not take part in such performances. For several weeks, this was a major issue on the Israeli public agenda, and the aforementioned Israeli theatre professionals have 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. Those who collaborate with the Cameri  are taking a stand against these conscientious Israeli actors and playwrights who have refused to perform in the settlements, as well as a stand against universal principles of human rights and international law. )
We would also  like to note that Mr. Peter Brook has realized this too, by calling off  the entire collaboration of his theatre,  The Bouffes du Nord, with the Cameri last year, following appeals from Israeli citizens and others. )
A boycott is a means which one should take only as a measure of last resort. And by now there is ample evidence that we have no other choice. Mere international condemnation has not brought about an end to these policies, and action is required.
The Berliner Ensemble was Bertolt Brecht's theatre, and Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui is Bertolt Brecht's playIt would be hard to imagine a collaboration by Bertolt Brecht with an institution that performs in ethnically segregated venues on violently plundered land, as is the case regarding the settlement of Ariel!    
Since the Cameri is complicit in grave violations of international law, which amount to war crimes, we are asking you not to legitimize this theatre through artistic collaboration. In particular we are asking you to cancel your performance in Tel Aviv in November 2013.
We will gladly address any questions or comments.