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(Translation of Ha’aretz article for Adalah-NY. Original Hebrew story: https://www.haaretz.co.il/gallery/theater/1.4235031)

In a letter they sent, along with more than 70 cultural figures, they call on the Lincoln Center to cancel the play at the festival, claiming that Habima and the Cameri are supported by the Israeli government, and that the two [theaters] have performed in the settlements

July 6, 2017 Updated July 8, 2017
Yair Ashkenazi

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Katherine Farley, Chairman of the Board, Lincoln Center
Debora L. Spar, President, Lincoln Center

Dear Ms. Farley and Ms. Spar,

As supporters of the arts and human rights, we are writing you to express our grave concern that Lincoln Center will be hosting Israel’s Ha’bima National Theatre and the Cameri Theater of Tel Aviv from July 24 – 27 for performances of the play “To the End of the Land.”  Lincoln Center’s website notes that these performances will occur “With support of Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs in North America.”  It is deeply troubling that Lincoln Center, one of the world’s leading cultural institutions, is helping the Israeli government to implement its systematic “Brand Israel” strategy of employing arts and culture to divert attention from the state's decades of violent colonization, brutal military occupation and denial of basic rights to the Palestinian people. We call on Lincoln Center to avoid complicity with Brand Israel by cancelling these performances by Ha’bima and Cameri.

In 2006 Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) launched its “Brand Israel” public relations strategy which aimed to “rebrand” Israel by representing the country as “relevant and modern,” while “avoiding any discussion of the conflict with the Palestinians.”  An important component of “Brand Israel” involves promoting the country as a progressive center of the arts and culture.  This was articulated by a MoFA official who, following one of Israel’s periodic military assaults on the Gaza Strip, told the New York Times, “We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits …This way you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.”  The advertised support by “Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs in North America” for Ha’bima and Cameri’s performance at Lincoln Center fits precisely within that Israeli government strategy.

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