Israel’s national theater performs in West Bank settlement

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israeli national theater, Habima, performed in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, despite opposition from supporters of the theater and left-wing groups.

The November 10 performance of “A Simple Story,” a play based on a Hebrew short novel by 1966 Nobel Prize winner S.Y. Agnon, reportedly was the first time that the theater has brought its actors to the settlement near Hebron, home to 7,000 Jewish residents.

“Well done, Habima. Well done, Kiryat Arba. Together we have made history,” Sport and Culture Minister Miri Regev said in a post on Facebook.

Under  Regev, theaters and other cultural organizations that perform in settlements receive a 10 percent bonus, while those that refuse can face a one-third cut in their government funding.

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One actor refused to perform due to ideological reasons.

Habima performed in the West Bank city of Ariel at the opening of a new community cultural center in 2010, amid widespread objection. It is scheduled to perform “A Simple Story” in Ariel in March.

Prior to Thursday night’s performance, the left-wing organization Breaking the Silence took some of the actors on a tour of Hebron, where several hundred Jewish settlers live among tens of thousands of Palestinians.

“The Breaking the Silence organization is threatening the National Theater, I will defend it and its actors. This organization is trying with all its might to harm our national symbols,” Regev said in her Faceboom post. “It won’t help them, there will be more shows in Kiryat Arba, Bet El, Elkana and Ariel. The National Theater will perform in every spot in the state of Israel.”