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The wrong side of the moral map
Theatre Artists` Letter
May 17, 2011


MK Reuven (Rubi) Rivlin
Speaker
The Knesset
Jerusalem

Dear Sir,

In your speech at the Independence Day torch lighting ceremony you made a reference to a the theatre artists` letter against performance in the settlement of Ariel. Therefore we, the initiators of that letter, feel obliged to respond.

Before tackling the things you said, we wish to note the things which you did not mention even with one word, even though one could have expected the Speaker of the Knesset to refer to in a speech about the current state of Israeli society. Very conspicuously missing in your speech was any reference to the fact that already for forty-four years Israel is maintaining military rule over millions of people who are not citizens of Israel, to whom Israel is not willing to grant citizenship but also is not ready to stop ruling over them.

And even the word `Peace` was conspicuous in its absence from your speech. No peace and no desire for peace are to be found in your official speech, and certainly no willing to make concessions or take risks for the sake of peace.

However, we did hear in your speech of `An Israeli pride unmarred by any feeling of doubt`, about `A complete faith in the righteousness of our path`, the `State of Israel glowing brightly in at the heart of a brutal and repressive Middle East` and even more bombastic expressions of self-congratulation which, we are sorry to say, have nothing with the reality of Israel occupying andother people and settling on their land/

Also a clear and direct reference to ourselves, the undersigned, did we notice in your speech: `The Israeli public sphere is tainted by repeated attempts to curtail the vibrant debate through the exclusion of various groups, such as the boycott of Israelis living on the wrong side of the map.` You did not explicitly mention our names, but clearly enough you were referring to the letter in which we, theater professionals, announced that we would not perform appear in the settlement of Ariel nor in other settlements that were established in the Occupied Territories - settlements whose creation and maintenance are a violation of Iinternational Law and a barrier to any chance of peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors.

You counterpose another model: `No side of the spectrum. right or left, deserves to be boycotted, no sector should be ostracized. On this Independence Day let us leave behind the boycotts and ostracisms and defiant letters and our vision will become a reality.` In other words, let all live in peace and mutual tolerance racists and anti-racists, occupiers and opponents of the occupation, settlers and those who altogether reject the settlements. Opponents of the settlements would perform to entertain the settlers, to applause at the Ariel Hall of Culture, and occasionally whisper a few peaceful and civilized words of protest.

This is a vision which we reject out of hand. We will continue our struggle against the settlements, which is our view constitute the most serious threat to our future in this country. We indeed regard - and will continue to regard - the settlers as those who have chosen to live `on the wrong side of the map`. Not only of the geographic map which defines the difference between legitimate, recognized territory of Israel and occupied territory held by force, but also on the wrong side of the moral map which defines the boundary between a decent and peace-seeking conduct and a way of life based on oppression. When the settlers cease to live in armed enclaves held by force in occupied territory, we will have no further reason for `boycotts and ostracisms.` Then, and only then.

Sincerely Yours

Yehoshua Sobol
Savyon Liebrecht
Oded Kotler
Shmuel Haspari
Danny Kerman
Ofira Henig
Dan Almagor
Liora Rivlin
Gary Bilu
Einat Weitzman
Salwa Nakara
Shimon Buzaglo
Dori Parnes
Gilad Evron
Hanan Elstein
Vardit Shalfi
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