May 29, 2012
Pro-Palestinian activists disrupt Israeli theater performance in London
Pro-Palestinian activists protested against an Israeli theater company’s production of “The Merchant of Venice” at the Globe Theater in London.
Monday night’s protests of the Habima company’s production began outside the theater, where dozens stood waving Palestinian flags and calling for a boycott of Israeli products, according to reports. Pro-Israeli activists mounted a counter-demonstration.
Inside the theater, Palestinian protesters during the performance began waving Palestinian flags and flashing signs against Israel. They were removed from the theater. The actors continued with the show.
Ticket holders had been warned not to bring extra bags and underwent extensive checks before they were allowed to enter the theater.
The Habima production of “The Merchant of Venice” is part of the Globe to Globe festival, a six-week event at the theater featuring Shakespeare’s 37 plays performed in 37 languages. A Palestinian theater company is scheduled to perform “Richard II” in Arabic.
In an open letter published March 29 in The Guardian, three dozen British directors, writers and actors expressed “dismay and regret” about the Israeli production.
Habima “has a shameful record of involvement with illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the letter said, citing the fact that the company has agreed to perform in the culture centers of two large Israeli settlements and threatened repercussions against any actors or directors who decide out of conscience not to perform there.
“By inviting Habima, Shakespeare’s Globe is undermining the conscientious Israeli actors and playwrights who have refused to break international law,” the letter said.
In September, anti-Israel protesters disrupted a live BBC broadcast of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in London’s Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms summer classical music festival.