Canceled musical about soldiers testifying about West Bank rights abuses sparks outcry

Dozens of Israeli cultural figures signed a letter published Wednesday calling on Culture Minister Chile Tropper to intervene after the cancellation last month of a performance of a musical featuring the testimonies of female IDF soldiers serving in the West Bank who were picked up by a left-wing group. wing group.

An additional letter with a similar message was sent by an umbrella organization of Israeli theater groups, Channel 12 reported.

The musical, titled “Basic Instinct,” features three actresses wearing pink versions of Israel Defense Forces uniforms sharing the experiences of female soldiers who served in the West Bank.

The testimonies were collected by Breaking the Silence, a left-wing organization that collects and shares testimonies of alleged human rights abuses against Palestinians by former Israeli combat soldiers who served in the West Bank.

The musical has been playing across Israel since 2019 without issue and was supposed to open at the Beersheba Fringe Theater on June 16, but was canceled that morning.

The theater said it dropped out of the show after selling only three tickets, the Ynet news site reported.

Illustrative: A Breaking the Silence banner outside the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, July 1, 2017 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

However, the letter from 67 prominent cultural figures, including singer Aviv Geffen and author Etgar Keret, accuses the theater of canceling the show following political pressure from “radical right-wing forces” who were allegedly placed in both on the venue and on the mayor of Beersheba, Ruvik Danilovich.

The right-wing organization B’Tsalmo took credit for the play’s cancellation.

“Sometimes you need to know how to resist attempts at intimidation and silence,” the letter read. “This is an extremely important opportunity to fight for the principle of freedom of expression.”

In correspondence between Yael Tal, one of the play’s creators, and the director of the Fringe Theater who was attached to the petition, the venue noted that it had canceled the performance due to the outcry that caused it” just not worth it for us”. to turn up the performance, Channel 12 reported.

“We are sorry that various organizations and political factors have turned the theater into a battlefield,” the message read.

Tropper, the minister of culture, replied that he would not intervene in this case because if he respects freedom of expression, “it doesn’t seem to me that you would want to live in a country where the minister of culture interferes in certain parts. ”

Culture Minister Chili Tropper in Tel Aviv, April 6, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni‎‏/Flash90)

“Today it’s me, tomorrow someone else with different opinions will sit in my place,” Tropper said.

Likud MK Miri Regev, his predecessor as culture minister, had no qualms about intervening in such cases, defending a so-called culture loyalty law that would have allowed him to withhold public funding cultural organizations “that work against the principles of the state.”

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