Press Release from BIN and BRICUP: Pro-Palestinian Protesters thwart draconian security at Globe Theatre

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - MAY 28, 2012
      [updated version, 29th May]

Press Release from
BIN - Boycott Israel Network
and BRICUP - British Committee for the Universities of Palestine

PRO-PALESTINIAN PROTESTERS THWART DRACONIAN SECURITY AT ISRAELI
STATE THEATRE PERFORMANCE, GLOBE THEATRE

* Shakespeare's Globe in security lockdown to defend 
        Israeli National Theatre
* Repeated interruptions
* Israeli Embassy orchestrates propaganda campaign against 
        growing support for cultural boycott

Despite unprecedented security at Shakespeare's Globe for 
Monday's performance by Israeli National Theatre, Habima, 
pro-Palestinian campaigners succeeded in unfurling a banner 
and staging a mute protest against illegal colonisation and 
settlement. Protesters were manhandled by security staff out 
of the theatre on London's Bankside, where Habima - which 
entertains colonists illegally settled on Palestinian land - 
was performing the Merchant of Venice in Hebrew as part of 
the Cultural Olympiad.

Just before the interval 15 demonstrators stood up 
with Palestinian flags and a banner. Demonstrator 
Veronica Simpson said "Security was unnecessarily 
aggressive. We were just making a peaceful protest 
about Israel". One demonstrator had her glasses 
broken. One man was handcuffed and arrested. 
Pro-Israel audience members shouted abuse, and 
some physically attacked demonstrators.

After the interval two members of the audience 
introduced some adapted texts from Shakespeare 
"Hath a Palestinian not eyes.... if you prick 
us do we not bleed" and "Avaunt and quit my 
sight - Apartheid" before they were removed.

Previously six protesters displayed a large 
banner and several smaller ones they had 
smuggled into the theatre. The banners carried 
the slogan "Israeli apartheid leave the stage".

"We tried non-violently to convey the message that culture may 
not be used to give a civilised gloss to a state that perpetrates 
human rights abuses," said Zoe Mars, a protester. Audience members 
walked out of the performance because they were disgusted by the 
rough treatment of the peaceful and silent demonstrators.

There were other smaller demonstrations by members 
of the audience.

Protesters' ingenuity was tested by  airport style security checks 
including "extensive searches of bags and audience members". 
The theatre box office was closed by 4 pm, photographic 
equipment was banned and any bag larger than a modest sized 
purse had to be checked into a special left luggage facility.

Israeli Embassy attempts to undermine the protests with a 
Twitter campaign in support of Habima fizzled out when their 
efforts were leaked to pro-Palestinian activists. An embassy 
circular suggested using the hashtag #loveculture, because it 
"won't be taken at first glance as a political statement."

"This is proof positive that as far as the Israeli state is 
concerned, culture and political propaganda are indivisible," 
said Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, cultural working group coordinator 
of the Boycott Israel Network.

"This campaign is not an attack on individual artists, we are 
not censoring the content of their work nor are we concerned 
about their ethnicity or the language they speak. As with South 
African sport in the apartheid era, this is about refusing to 
allow culture to be used to whitewash oppression."

Israeli, Palestinian and British human rights campaigners, 
backed by respected figures in theatre and the arts, have 
urged the Globe over recent months to withdraw its invitation 
to Habima which is complicit in the state's human rights violations 
and illegal colonisation of occupied land.

Campaign supporters such as film maker Ken Loach and actors David 
Calder and Miriam Margolyes say Habima uses its art to normalise 
an unacceptable situation. Their complicity "makes a mockery of their 
claim to freedom in their work," says Loach.

[ contact details edited out of this version ]

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1.    This campaign went public with  an open letter published in The Guardian  (March 29), signed by David 
Calder, Trevor Griffiths, Jonathan Miller, Mark Rylance, 
Emma Thompson and Harriet Walter, along with 31 others.

2.    See video statements from actors David Calder,  Miriam Margolyes  and John Graham Davies .

3. Statement from filmmaker Ken Loach and from  
Palestinian writer Dr Ghada Karmi.

4. Photos and a first-hand report can be found on
Tony Greenstein's Blog

5. Palestinian theatre company, Ashtar, based in Ramallah in the 
Occupied West Bank, staged Richard II in Arabic at the Globe on 
May 4 and 5. In a post-performance discussion,
artistic director Iman Aoun revealed that she had been strip searched 
on leaving Tel Aviv airport to travel to London. She and other members 
of the company explained their support for the cultural boycott of
Israeli institutions.
 
6. Video: "Hath a Palestinian not eyes?"
 
7. Israeli President Shimon Peres recently cited boycotts
as a key reason why Israel may be obliged to make peace.
 
8. Foreign Secretary William Hague last month  condemned Israeli settlement activity, saying: "As the Occupying Power of the 
Palestinian Territories, the Israeli government has an absolute requirement to
uphold international law and to fulfill its commitments."
 
9. Content of Israeli Embassy circular mobilising Twitter support for Habima:
 
An Important Message from the Israeli Embassy - 
MAY 29TH/HABIMA THEATRE COMPANY
Importance: High
 
Dear Liverpool Jewish Community Members,
 
As part of the campaign around Habima's performance at the Globe 
this coming week, we are aiming to get something relevant trending 
on twitter. After careful consideration, we have decided to use 
the hashtag #LoveCulture as it is short enough to fit on a 
substantial tweet and won't be taken at first glance as a
political statement.
 
To get something trending on twitter, we need it to be a 
sudden occurrence. Therefore, we will start tweeting with 
#LoveCulture at 08:00 UK Time (which is GMT +1) on Tuesday 
29 May (please do not start before this time as it will 
dilute the possibility of this actually trending).
 
(If you do not have twitter, please email acailler@live.co.uk 
before Tuesday 29th May and Adam will advise you 
what/how to use twitter)
 
Due to the rules twitter has, please refrain from using additional 
hash-tags, sending multiple tweets with only minor changes as they 
won't be counted and please make sure that your tweets are relevant, 
as again not complying will result in tweets not being counted.
 
Examples of tweets that you can use (please try and edit them) are:
 
· Great to see @HabimaTheatre celebrating the Cultural Olympiad 
 @the_globe...all the world's a stage #LoveCulture
 
· Fantastic seeing the foremost Hebrew speaking theatre 
company perform the Merchant of Venice @the_globe #LoveCulture
 
· Was great to hear @edvaizey enjoyed watching @HabimaTheatre...
   did he understand any of it though? #LoveCulture
 
· Jealous of all those off to see sold out @HabimaTheatre at 
   @the_globe tonight...last night was great #LoveCulture
 
If you are using a twitter client such as TweetDeck or HootSuite, 
there is an option to schedule tweets to be sent at a predetermined 
time.
 
Please feel free to send this on to trusted contacts with twitter.
 
If you have any questions please contact  pr-asst3@london.mfa.gov.il or elliot@thejlc.org.
 
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach
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