Controversial poet's Holon show to go ahead as scheduled

City of Holon rejects demands to cancel Yehonatan Geffen's performance at Yad Labanim building in the city.

Ido Ben Porat ,

Yehonatan Geffen
Yehonatan Geffen
Tomer Neuberg/Flash 90

The Holon Municipality announced on Monday that despite requests from bereaved families and the Yad Labanim memorial organization for those who died in the defense of Israel, controversial poet Yehonatan Geffen's performance at the Yad Labanim building in the city will not be canceled.

The show will take place as scheduled next week. Advertisements for the show said it will include skits about "the most dangerous and funny and politically incorrect things that only on stage can he express without censorship."

Geffen recently caused an uproar when he published a poem on his Instagram account glorifying Palestinian Arab teen Ahed Tamimi, who was filmed slapping an Israeli soldier.

Geffen compared Tamimi to heroic victims of oppression throughout the generations, from David against Goliath to Hannah Szenes, who courageously parachuted into Europe to rescue Jews during the Holocaust and was later tortured and murdered by the Nazis, and Anne Frank, famous teenage diarist, murdered in the Holocaust.

Following the publication of the poem, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman ordered Army Radio not to play songs written by Geffen or to interview him, though Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit later stated that Liberman does not have the authority to issue such an order.

Geffen subsequently apologized for his comparison, but last week he caused another firestorm after he said in a television interview that he understands people who become “shaheeds” (martyrs in Arabic).

Eli Ben-Shem, the chairman of Yad Labanim, contacted Holon Mayor Moti Sasson last week and urged him to cancel Geffen's show following his remarks on Tamimi.

In addition to Ben Shem, dozens of bereaved families sent an angry letter to the mayor of Holon protesting Geffen's show, in which they wrote, "We are all bereaved families who paid a heavy price to defend the state, its citizens and its residents.”

"Our loved ones will not return - we demand that you protect their honor and not support those who harm them. As long as the event is not canceled, we will plan a large, licensed demonstration before the show," the bereaved families said.

The Holon Municipality said in response that "the Holon Municipality and the Holon Theater preserve and promote Hebrew art and music. The Yemey Zemer Festival in Holon will feature artists of diverse views, including Yehonatan Geffen on the one hand and Ariel Zilber on the other. We believe in freedom of expression as a central value in a democratic society and oppose boycotts and silencing."



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