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US actors back boycott of West Bank theater

Sept. 6, 2010 9:37 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 8, 2010 11:02 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Following the movement of Israeli theater professionals who authored a letter refusing to perform in the settlement of Ariel, American counterparts have come together with their own statement of support.

"As American actors, directors, critics and playwrights, we salute our Israeli counterparts for their courageous decision," the letter says.

Organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, a Jewish-American organization, the statement has been signed by over 150 theater and film professionals representing some influential artists in theater and film.

Among them are "Sex and the City"'s Cynthia Nixon, playwright Tony Kushner, 21-time Tony winner for productions of "The Pajama Game" to "Phantom of the Opera" Harold Prince, star of the film "Yentl," Mandy Patinkin, and Cameri co-founder Theodore Bikel.

"The response of American artists to the courageous actions of their Israeli counterparts is just phenomenal. It is especially notable that so many of the signatories are Jewish Americans with long-standing connections to Israel," Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said in a statement.

"We hope that the strong show of solidarity by Americans in response to these brave Israelis will help spark a new conversation in both countries, one that acknowledges that the Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are illegal by every measure of international law, contribute to the daily violation of human rights of Palestinians, and are a major obstacle to a just peace in the region."

The original Israeli actors' letter was widely criticized the Israeli public and government including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who at the beginning of last week's cabinet meeting denounced the initiative.

“The State of Israel is under an attack of delegitimization by elements in the international community. This attack includes attempts to enact economic, academic and cultural boycotts. The last thing we need at this time is to be under such an attack,” The Jerusalem Post, an English-language Israeli daily, quoted him as saying.
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