Artists for Palestine UK is proud to be supportingthe first ever UK tourby the PalestinianFreedom Theatre. And we continue to fight back against campaigns to demonise and silence the voices of Palestinians in a climate which increasingly threatens freedom of expression in Britain.
On May 3, a scurrilous article in the Mail on Sunday headed “UK tax players fund ‘pro-terrorist’ play“ quoted the Board of Deputies of British Jews to attack the Arts Council for supporting Freedom Theatre’s forthcoming tour. In launching this attack, the pro-Israel lobby is initiating a campaign to dissuade UK audiences from hearing Palestinian stories and discourage theatres from hosting them. In response, prominent British theatre writers, directors and actors wrote to the Mail pointing to the BoD’s “shocking record of acting to suppress cultural and academic events…” Their letter was published on May 8 and now stands as a statement that other artists can support.
Artists and scholars hit back at censorship and threats to freedom in the arts and academia. In an extraordinary breach of the arms-length principle of government funding of the arts, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid threatened to cut funding to arts organisations that boycott Israel. Then, in April, a conference at Southampton University on International Law and the State of Israel was banned following a campaign by pro-Israel groups and the intervention of government ministers Eric Pickles and Michael Gove. Gove is now Justice Minister.
The Freedom Theatre grew from unique beginnings, from the work of Arna Mer Khamis, a Jewish revolutionary whose fierce and energetic humanity drove her to live and work in Occupied Palestine, using theatre and art to address the chronic fear, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder experienced by children in Jenin Refugee Camp during the first intifada (1987-91). Read about the theatre’s story, its special ethos and work with culture as resistance and a force for social change.
Freedom Theatre UK tour May 13 – June 20
See the new play, join the post show discussions, learn about the company’s amazing work.