The Latest Victim of BDS? An Israeli Anti-War Play

July 11, 2017 | Kyle Smith
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In response to a scheduled production of To the End of the Land, based on David Grossman’s novel of the same name, an organization called “Adalah-NY, the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel” has issued an open letter to Lincoln Center demanding that it cancel the play’s performance. The letter, signed by a group of playwrights, actors, and directors—some with high profiles—claims that staging the play “will help 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.” Kyle Smith comments:

The point these artists are making is ludicrous on two levels. First, though the play is sponsored by Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs, it’s an anti-war piece, not simple-minded cheerleading for the state of Israel. David Grossman . . . lost his son Uri to fighting on the last day of Israel’s offensive in Lebanon in 2006. Since then, writes [one reviewer of the play], “Grossman has become among the most outspoken Jewish Israeli voices against war and occupation. He has frequently protested the demolitions of houses in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.” . . .

Even assuming you agree that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is unconscionable (and I don’t), why should Israel’s theater community be punished for this by denial of state subsidies? Alternatively, is alleged cruelty to Palestinians the only subject allowed in state-sponsored Israeli theater? These [advocates of boycott] wouldn’t hold their own country to that standard: they certainly wouldn’t demand that any National Endowment for the Arts-subsidized play recount the horrors of slavery or the administration of Donald Trump, though you can be sure that they abhor these two institutions in equal measure.

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