The moral role of an artist in the modern world

The growing number of mainstream figures waking up to the evil of the Israeli occupation is welcome and it’s moving to the heart of the American arts world. Once more Americans realise what is happening, Israel’s day are numbered.

Here’s Theodore Bikel, a Tony and Oscar-nominated actor and musician, explaining why:

There are weighty reasons why I find myself in full support of the artists’ refusal to perform in the territories. And it should be noted that I am not alone in supporting the courageous stand of our Israeli colleagues. There is a growing list of over 150 prominent artists and arts leaders from the U.S. who have expressed similar concerns to mine.

The cause celebre regarding the new performance facility in Ariel has given rise to statements from the leaders of that community as well as from Prime Minister Netanyahu and the culture minister, Limor Livnat. While the latter asserts that “political disputes should be left outside cultural life and art,” both the prime minister and the settlers’ council make it clear that the matter is not about art at all, but about what they call an attack on Israel “from within.”

The declaration of conscience signed by prominent Israeli artists − among them recipients of the Israel Prize, the highest cultural accolade given by the state − is characterized as emanating from “anti-Zionist leftists” and is described by the prime minister as being part of an “international movement of delegitimization.”

Clearly, anything that is connected to the settlers or to the settlements’ presence beyond the Green Line is political. And, if the refusal of the artists to perform in the territories is tantamount to delegitimization, it follows that any agreement to perform there would amount to legitimizing what many of us ”(in and outside of Israel”) believe to be the single most glaring obstacle to peace.