Actress Emma Thompson and three dozen other British actors are advocating the boycott of Israel’s celebrated Habima Theater troupe, which is to perform later this year in a six-week theatrical festival taking place at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London.
In a letter to the British Guardian newspaper, Thompson and her colleagues accused Habima of having “a shameful record of involvement with illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory [sic] … by inviting Habima, the Globe is associating itself with policies of exclusion practised by the Israeli state and endorsed by its national theatre company … We ask the Globe to withdraw the invitation so that the festival is not complicit with human rights violations and the illegal colonisation of occupied land.” The letter is referring to Habima’s refusal to boycott a cultural center that has opened in the town of Ariel.
“We condemn Emma Thompson and her colleagues for their advocacy of boycotting Israel’s famed Habima Theater,” said Morton A. Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America.
“Jews have a perfect right in law and morality to live and build homes and communities in Judea and Samaria, part of the territory earmarked for Jewish settlement at the 1920 San Remo Conference. Contrary to Thompson’s ignorant/malicious claim of illegality, the right of Jews to live and settle in these territories has never been extinguished by any subsequent, legally binding international agreement. Moreover, under the Oslo II agreement, it was specifically stated in Chapter 3, Article 17 that the Jewish communities of Judea, Samaria and Gaza would remain under Israeli jurisdiction, pending a final peace agreement. In other words, the PA itself has signed a legally binding agreement that explicitly accepts the existence of Jewish communities under Israeli control.
“These people claim to be concerned about justice and peace. But one never hears them criticize the Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or their rejection of the 2000 Clinton peace plan, or their resort to a wave of terror. They never issue statements demanding that the PA end terror and incitement to hatred and murder against Israel – the demonization of Jews does not disturb these haters of the Jewish state and expose their own vicious bias, dressed up as concern for human rights.
“We also note the rank hypocrisy of Thompson and her ilk condemning Habima and seeking its boycott – but having no problem with the National Theater of China participating in the same festival, even though China’s observance of human rights is, to put it mildly, abysmal.
“Emma Thompson and these other actors are clearly people who, because they are celebrities, enjoy unmerited influence and ability to publicize their political views. This places an even greater responsibility on them to think carefully before speaking on political matters, which they have clearly failed. They deserve to be condemned and shunned by the Jewish, pro-Israeli community and all other people of goodwill. We urge everyone to boycott Emma Thompson’s current movie, Saving Mr. Banks.”