Ben Cohen has written well about the holier than thou anti-Israel hypocrites like Emma Thompson who are railing about Habimah performing in London. It’s an incentive to reread Cohen’s equally good appraisal of Jello Biafra when he succumbed to pressure to not perform in Israel.
Howard Jacobson also wrote a powerful response as did others.
According to the article Jacobson said: “If there is one justification for art… it is that it proceeds from, and addresses, our unaligned humanity. Whoever would go to art with a mind made up on any subject misses the point of what art is for.
“So to censor it in the name of political or religious conviction… is to tear out its very heart. For artists themselves to do such a thing to art is not only treasonable, it is an act of self-harm.
“With last week’s letter to the Guardian, McCarthyism came to Britain. You can hear the minds of people in whom we vest our sense of creative freedom snapping shut.”
Jacobson’s comments follow a letter from actors Simon Callow, Steven Berkoff and Maureen Lipman, and the playwright Arnold Wesker, which said that an attempt to ban Habima was tantamount to Nazi-era book burning.
The Globe theatre’s management said that it was standing by its decision, and that the Habima performance was a key part of its eclectic Cultural Olympiad, running from 21 April to 9 June.
A spokeswoman for Dominic Dromgoole, the Globe’s artistic director, said: “We have not changed our position. We thought long and hard about it. We, as an institution, are welcoming everybody to the festival.” Ashtar theatre, a Palestinian company, is performing Richard II in Arabic on 4 and 5 May