Guardian story on Habima & settlements omits facts which undermine narrative

You can tell that the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont spends a lot of time associating with those on the radical fringes of Israeli society by reading the first three paragraphs of his Oct. 25th article ‘Israel’s national theatre company criticised for show in West Bank settlement’.

Israel’s national theatre company has announced it will perform in a hardline West Bank settlement, sparking a fierce row inside Israel’s artistic community.

The performance in the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba next to Hebron is planned to take place next month despite a growing chorus of criticism from Israeli cultural figures opposed to the move.

Although other theatre companies have performed in Kiryat Arba before, it is the first time that Habima – Israel’s national theatre – has performed in the settlement.

Of course, beyond a few outspoken voices within the artistic community (and the editors at Haaretz), it’s difficult to find evidence of “a growing chorus of criticism” within the country over the national theatre company’s decision to perform in a community across the green line. 

In addition to empirical data demonstrating widespread Israeli opposition to a settlement boycott (even among Arab Israelis), it’s telling that Beaumont cites, putatively as evidence of this “chorus of criticism”, a little known literature professor at Ben Gurion University named Haim Weiss.  Beaumont devotes three paragraphs to Weiss, who had criticized Habima on his personal Facebook page, arguing that “the theatre had decided to perform in the settlement because of the current climate of pressure on artists and arts groups”.

The only other Israeli cited who objected to the scheduled performance in Kiryat Arba was actor Oded Kotler – an activist who caused controversy last year after he characterized right-wing voters as “cud-chewing cattle”. (He later walked back his remarks.)

Beaumont also fails to inform readers that this isn’t the first time Habima has staged a show in the West Bank. The theatre company previously performed in Ariel and Ma’aleh Adumim.

Beaumont’s article continues:

The row over the decision to stage a dramatised version of SY Agnon’s A Simple Story is the latest chapter in the bitter culture war between members of Israel’s artistic community and the country’s abrasive rightwing culture and sport minister, Miri Regev.

Regev has threatened to cut funding to arts groups that refuse to perform in settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The suggested connection between the upcoming Habima performance in the territories and the anti-BDS position of the culture minister represented the overall narrative of the Guardian piece.  

However, there’s one big problem with this argument.  It was undermined by a quote from Habima’s general manager, Odelia Friedman, in an interview that aired yesterday morning on Army Radio. 

As Haaretz reported in their Oct. 26th print edition (Habima denies Regev behind West Bank performance, Oct. 26), Friedman denied during the interview that Regev pressured the theater to perform in Kiryat Arba.  She added that “Habima as performed for many years in Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim”, that the policy of performing across the green line was “arrived at a few years ago and it has nothing to do with any particular minister”.

Tellingly, though Beaumont did cite Friedman’s interview on Army Radio at the end of his article, he only included the bit where she broadly defended Habima’s decision to perform in the settlement.

[Habima’s] general manager, Odelia Friedman, told Israeli public radio that settlers had the same right to government-subsidised culture as any other Israeli citizen. “We appear everywhere where we are required,” she added.

He conveniently omitted the part of the interview where Friedman categorically denied that their decision had anything whatsoever to do with pressure from Israel’s “abrasive rightwing culture and sport minister” Miri Regev.

Once again, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent published a BDS related article which omitted key information in order to buttress the desired narrative and lend greater legitimacy to promoters of boycotting the Jewish state.


13 replies »

  1. If it’s the first time Habima has performed in the West Bank, then why has the BDS movement caused previous rows over Habima performances in the UK?

    BDS is a racist movement. They are not political. Politics is an excuse to hate Jews as much as possible.

    To the same degree, Peter Beaumont less a journalist and more a propagandist. And the paper that runs amok with Peter Beaumont’s principles of Middle Eastern ignorance? I don’t even think I’d wipe my dog’s ass with that.

    Golly…. It’ll be 70 years soon…. This “discussion” really hasn’t gone anywhere, has it? And to think, God created us in His image. If that’s the case, then it’s no wonder our planet is killing itself.

  2. So Beaumont uses a little known professor and an activist as his “go to” sources for his story and blows it up into a cultural crisis. Surprise! It’s just one of the reasons he is a lousy reporter and why the Guardian is an anti-Israel propaganda rag. Obscuring the reality of Israel and the totalitarian thugs it’s up against by the Guardian and other British media sources is how they get British citizens all worked up into a frenzy of little real importance to the world we live in and keep them distracted from the things that matter. And thank you to Mr. Beaumont also for pushing propaganda terms like ‘occupied Palestinian territory’ and awarding it to the Arabs who claim to be the indigenous people (most of whom aren’t) but laughably have no indigenous name for themselves or their ‘historic’ country whose borders were delineated by the British Empire for another people whose ties to the land holds far more historical weight, i.e., the Jews. Let’s chalk up Mr. Beaumont’s reportage to his own brand of “abrasive leftwing culture and obscurantist bullshit minister,” i.e., the Guardian.

  3. The most remarkable thing about the article is looking at it in its totality. A writer, educated and paid to cover the news as part of free expression creates a giant falsehood. The reason he does so is because he believes he is an active participant in a “narrative” a version of reality that he at all times treats as unquestionably and irrefutably true. Beaumont, like any good writer in the ministry of truth, takes the story of the moment and fabricates away in the name of Big Brother and the Party.

    This is an intellectual sickness of the highest order. The fact it is directed against the Jewish people and the fact the open bigotry and genocidal intentions of the Palestinians are ignored (all part of the narrative, all Jews are white or Khazars or who cares as long as Israel is allied with the US) is the intellectual crime of our times.

    For too long Jews have sat back and let this go on. The State of Israel needs to take active measures against the source of the hate and lies: the Palestinians. Israel put Arafat under virtual arrest, give Abbas an ultimatum- unconditionally recognize Israel or go into exile or get the Arafat treatment.

    Enough with the lies. Enough with the hate. When you stand by and allow yourself to be slandered, eventually, the entire world gangs up on you and you lose your dignity and the ability to even stand for what you believe.

    • Great post, but the source of the hate and lies isn’t only from the Pal-e-SWINIANS, but from their allies in Eurabia, especially on the Left. See Laboor in the UK.

  4. Perhaps you could you the same methods to critique the bias in Bibi’s personal newspaper Yisrael Hayom, which is financed by foreign money.

    • Perhaps you could. Go start your own website monitoring the Israeli media’s lies and slanders of the UK. I’m sure you could the whole thing on a sheet of toilet paper.

  5. koufaxmitzvah asks “If it’s the first time Habima has performed in the West Bank, then why has the BDS movement caused previous rows over Habima performances in the UK?” The Habimah “case” in the UK is an interesting one. A year or two back, the Globe Theatre (a faithful reconstruction of Shakespeare’s theatre on the south bank of the River Thames, on the actual site – and, irrelevant but interesting fact, the driving force of which was the late Sam Wanamaker, US Jewish actor resident in the UK, as is his daughter, also an actor, Zoe) decided to put on a festival of Shakespeare’s plays, inviting acting companies from around the world.

    Habimah was invited and chose to perform The Merchant of Venice: how ironic is that? An Israeli (and mainly Jewish) company choosing to perform Shakespeare’s arguably sole antisemitic play. Mark Rylance, the Globe’s first artistic director objected on the grounds that Habimah received funding from the Israeli Government and was thus an arm of the Israeli state.

    This ignored the obvious point that The Globe receives a subsidy from the UK Arts Council which gets its money from…the UK Government, and was, thus, just as much a branch of the UK Government as (if it is) Habimah is of the `israeli ditto.

    That did it: Merchant is the one Shakespeare play I really never want to see again, but I went (as did my wife). The theatre employed efficient security and the play went on. There mindless BDS thugs were smoothly ejected and the rest of gave Habimah a standing ovation (no pun intended for those of you who know that the Globe has a large standing (“the groundlings”) area).

    And I vowed never to add to Rylance’s income ever again.

    Did the mindless bigots of BDS demonstrate against, e.g., the Chinese Theatre Company for its links to the Chimese Government and its repressive regime. Do you really need an answer to that question?

    Only the Jews get this treatment. Or, as Maureen Lipman noted, in the fade-out to a radio interview alongside one of Rylance’s mates, on Radio 4’s Today programme, “It’s always the Jews, isn’t it?”

  6. ” Shakespeare’s arguably sole antisemitic play” – nonsense. Anyone who so argues simply cannot read a text.