Ariel cultural center
Ariel cultural centerIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Five actors have withdrawn from a left-wing boycott of the theater soon to open in the Samaria city of Ariel. A few dozen artists and actors said they would not perform in the theater, which is east of the 1949 armistice line, saying performances should be held strictly “within the Green Line.”

The boycott declaration caused an uproar, and was denounced by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during Sunday's cabinet meeting.

On Sunday evening, actors and actresses Dror Keren, Irit Kaplan, Alon Dahan, Ola Shor-Selectar and Micha Selectar said that they had been mistaken in signing the letter, and that they do not rule out performing in Ariel.

Dahan said that he and Kaplan had originally agreed to the boycott, and had simply changed their minds. After reading editorials on the artists' boycott, the two decided that the critics were right, and that refusing to perform in Samaria was not the way to go.

Kaplan said that despite her personal political views she felt she did not have the right to refuse to perform in Ariel, since the theater she works for, the Cameri, is a public institution.

Keren said he had decided that boycotts are “juvenile.” While he rejected calls to separate politics and art, he said that it is “not my job to punish anyone” via a boycott.

Ola Shor-Selectar said that she and her husband had been misled as to the purpose of the letter. The two believed they were signing a call to hold deliberations on the question of whether or not to perform in Ariel, she said. She said that she was surprised to see their names on a document calling for a boycott.

While she defines her political views as decidedly leftist, Shor-Selectar said she is not prepared to call for a boycott without at least debating the matter first. In addition, she, like Kaplan, said she did not have the right to tell the public theater company she works for where to perform or not to perform.

Culture Minister Limor Livnat criticized the boycotting actors on Sunday in an interview with Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service. “How can dozens of artists working in publicly funded theaters decide that they are boycotting part of the public?” Livnat said. “That can't be. I hope it won't happen at all, but if it does happen, it should happen only if they are working independently.”