What a false choice. True humanists don’t need to worry about “delegitimising” Israel because anything to do with the colonies is doing that for them. By not totally opposing the occupation is only leading to the Jewish state’s demise:
Residents of the arid West Bank town of Ariel got a taste last week of Paris.
Defying left-wing calls for an actors’ boycott, the Beersheba theater group inaugurated a new cultural center with a moving performance of “Piaf,” a musical tribute to the undisputed doyenne of the French chanson.
The very staging of the show went to the heart of a bitter argument between left and right over which side can claim to be today’s true Zionists. Each accuses the other of betraying the Zionist heritage and giving succor to a rising tide of delegitimization that calls for Israel’s dismantlement or at least questions its right to exist.
For the left-wingers, the tricky dilemma is how to criticize the government and the occupation without providing ammunition for Israel’s foes.
Right-wingers argue that sharp left-wing attacks on the settler project, like calling for a cultural boycott of the settlements, play into the hands of would-be delegitimizers, who also use the boycott weapon. Left-wingers retort that only by ending the occupation, the target of virtually all their criticism, will Israel finally be able to put to rest the growing rumblings against its international legitimacy.
In the run-up to the Piaf performance, left-wing actors, directors, authors and academics wrote letters calling for a boycott of the Ariel cultural center to make crystal clear their opposition to the ongoing settlement enterprise.
“It was essential to remind Israeli public opinion that there is no consensus on the legitimacy of the settlements,” playwright Yehoshua Sobol, one of the leaders of the protest, told JTA. “It’s a case of Ariel or Israel. Ariel will destroy Israel if it goes on like this.”
Israeli Culture Minister Limor Livnat responded with two proposals, both of which enraged the left: that government financing for theater groups be dependent on prior agreement to perform anywhere under Israeli control, and that a prize be created for “Zionist” work.
Outraged left-wingers argued that it would be wrong to attach government strings of any kind to creative work. Moreover, they asked, who would define what was or was not “Zionist”?
“There is a semantic confusion here,” Gadi Baltiansky, director of the Geneva Initiative, a 2003 blueprint for peace with the Palestinians, said in an interview with JTA. “When Culture Minister Limor Livnat says her answer to those who don’t want to perform in Ariel is to give a prize to a ‘Zionist’ work, she is turning things upside down. The true Zionists are the people who don’t want to keep the West Bank, and those who do are the ones undermining the legitimacy of the Zionist enterprise.”