By Chaim Levinson
More than 150 American actors, writers, directors and other artists signed a letter of support for the Israeli actors who declared they would not perform in the West Bank.
The American signatories include Cynthia Nixon, who plays Miranda on “Sex and the City”; Mandy Patinkin, who played Inigo Montoya in “The Princess Bride”; and character actor and writer Wallace Shawn, who played the principal in “Clueless.”
Ten days ago, the Israeli actors caused a storm when they released a petition stating they would not perform in the West Bank. Their move was prompted by reports that the theater companies were planning performances at the new cultural center in Ariel.
The American letter calls the Israelis’ refusal brave, notes that Ariel is one of the largest settlements in the West Bank and calls it illegal by any standard.
The signatories said that most of them faced daily compromises with things they found unacceptable, and that when a group of people decided they would make no more compromises and found the strength to refuse, this inspired them and filled them with hope.
The American artists were moved to know the Israelis had refused to allow their work to become part of what they called making the cruel occupation normal and accepted, they said in the letter. The occupation is an obstacle to hope and a just and sustainable peace for Israelis and Palestinians, they added.
The signatories said the Israeli artists’ decision should be appreciated by those who seek justice around the world.
The letter made waves in the artistic community in the United States. On Friday, several actors called the Israeli Consulate to ask what they should do, and were advised by the cultural attache not to interfere in internal Israeli affairs, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
Wallace Shawn told Haaretz on Sunday that the Israeli artists’ refusal had touched him. They did something that could get them fired, and he found that inspiring, he said. Theater is the art of truth, and the Israeli artists are following their own truth, he said.
If they were to appear in Ariel they would be legitimizing something they do not agree with, said Shawn. If they do lose their jobs as a result of their stand, the world is watching and people will support them, he said.