Two months ago, we reported that the Shakespeare’s Globe Theater had rejected a call for boycott of Israel’s Habima Theatre, scheduled to present a Hebrew-language version of The Merchant of Venice this summer. After having been targeted by BDS activists, the Globe responded in an open letter of its own and declared that “active exclusion was a profoundly problematic stance to take”.
Turns out that the boycotters are still pressuring the Globe to change its stance: In a public letter published in The Guardian newspaper last Friday, British actors directors and authors such as Emma Thompson and Mike Leigh called on the Globe to withdraw its invitation to Habima over its supposed complicity in human rights violations.
Ilan Ronen, the artistic manager of Habima Theater told Ynet that the British letter is “filled with half truths. Habima Theater doesn’t hold any political policies, and any attempt to present it in such a light just harms the artists.”
Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that this is not the first time that a list of British artists have called for a boycott. A public letter calling for a total cultural boycott of Israel was published in the Guardian already in 2006. In the six years since, Israeli-British cultural exchange – far from being undermined by the boycott call – has actually gone from strength to strength, both in terms of new bilateral government-backed collaborations and in terms of the number and variety of acts appearing in both countries, an updated taste of which you can find here.
Is this then the whiff of yet another BDS fail?