from DAI (Enough) creator/writer/performer, Iris Bahr:
We artists must keep pushing and stretching and prodding and moving and I pray that no further life is given to such ridiculous proposals of boycotting the very people that are part of the solution, not the problem. Isn’t collective punishment what we are fighting against?! I find the fact that “enlightened” segments of the population entertain notions of such boycotts as useful and legitimate, beyond discouraging.
from 1001 playwright Jason Grote:
I don’t really think a boycott of Israeli culture will ever really get a foothold. Does anyone? I’m pretty sure that it’s yet another tempest in a teapot, another boring distraction, another excuse for the left to fetishize losing and for non-Israeli Jews to feel victimized (I should add that I am both leftist and Jewish, and sick to death of both losing and feeling victimized).
If anything, it would be far more intellectually honest to boycott American artists (of whom I am also one), as it’s our own state apparatus and military-industrial complex which are supporting both the very real crimes of the state of Israel and the worst of the thuggish Arab governments in the region. No one seems to be discussing that.
from Theater J Council Member, Peace Cafe pillar, and DCJCC Dialogues Director, Stephen Stern:
I think we at the Washington DCJCC and Theater J have shared in an extraordinary range of experiences in culture and dialogue. We share artistic expression about the Middle East, yes through Israeli and Jewish eyes, but increasingly opening to Arab and other visions. We take part in invaluable, sometimes harrowing, encounters at the Center — and through the Peace Café as part of a disputatious local and international community.
We have created dialogue across what often seems like unbridgeable difference, conflicting narratives that are hard for the other to hear. Humane encounter with friends, frustration over lack of political progress or possibility of projects together, endless killing and some personal hurt, even in the safe spaces we’ve created.
As I’ve read all these comments on a proposed (and in some places active) cultural boycott, I am heartened by colleagues worldwide who understand the vibrancy of Israel in its fierce will to live, and in its capacity for self-criticism. But I know that that understanding or even solidarity isn’t enough to get us to the next humane stage. From our Arab friends and critics, I have learned so much about their solidarity, will to live and aspiration to overcome dispossession as well. I have been touched by souls for whom the State of Israel is not the beacon of enlightenment and promise it is for me. As much as I know some of them hate to hear me so identify myself – listening to their voices, looking in their eyes, if not through them – has made me a better Zionist. I know that somehow (through hopefully not too many more vales of tears unknown) its fulfillment must be aligned with realizing many of their dreams and aspirations. So I say yes to continued cultural engagement and respectful, even if painful, dialogue. I say yes to hearing all stories and senses of the past, present, and future as essential to building leadership which will see an easing of conflict and the flowering of peoples’ rights and opportunities.
Director, Dialogues and Public Affairs
Washington DC Jewish Community Center
from Theater J great friend, Marc Leland, former assistant secretary of the treasury for international affairs:
Was interested in the exchange and of course agree that usually boycotts are not useful especially cultural ones. I was glad that ruth brought up all the arab countries that discriminate against women and are dictatorships but disappointed that noone said what was the purposeof this proposed boycott against a democratic country(the only one in the middle east) was it to say hamas should be given the land when it is committed to the destruction of israel. At least in a boycott of arab countries it could be for the right of women or free speech.
PS – I see Robert Brustein to a large degree expressed my thoughts.