A group of about fifty actors, playwrights and other theatrical types, led by the Jewish Voice for Peace, whose stated mission includes seeking “an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem,” signed a letter protesting the cancellation of a Black Lives Matter benefit concert that had been scheduled for 9/11 at Feinstein’s/54 Below near Times Square in Manhattan.
Signatories include playwright Sarah Ruhl, singer Justin Vivian Bond, playwright Annie Baker, novelist Alice Walker, and actors Wallace Shawn, Tonya Pinkins and Kathleen Chalfant.
Back in 2013, Alice Walker’s speech at the University of Michigan was cancelled because of her views on Israel. Walker has likened Israel to the Jim Crow racist system she grew up with in the South. Kathleen Chalfant has been a long time supporter of BDS.
An email the club owners sent out to ticket buyers read, “The owners and managers … strongly believe in and support the general thrust of the goals and objectives of BLM. However, since announcing the benefit they’ve become aware of a recent addition to the BLM platform that accuses Israel of genocide and endorses a range of boycott and sanction actions.
“Feinstein’s/54 Below would have preferred to hold the concert in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, without endorsing or appearing to endorse the entirety of the Black Lives Matter organization and its platform, but we’ve found that a distinction is impossible for us to effect.
“As we can’t support these positions, we’ve accordingly decided to cancel the concert.
“We’re sorry about this unfortunate situation which has not dimmed our commitment to supporting social justice.”
The JVP letter willfully ignores the fact that the club owners have declared their support for the BLM agenda, but would not accept the movement’s recent turn against the Jewish State. Instead of acknowledging any American’s right to pick and choose his or her causes, the JVP letter states that the cancellation “both undermines the visionary leadership of the Movement for Black Lives and contributes to the institutionalized silencing of advocates for Palestinian human rights. … We call on theater venues, artists, and supporters in New York City and beyond to proudly support the Movement for Black Lives and its inspiring solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
Chalfant told the NY Times she was “very distressed to discover that, in order to support one movement I thought was important, there was some kind of peculiar political test.” But, in fact, that’s precisely what the benefit organizers were demanding of the club owners, that in order to host the pro BLM event, they had to reject their own pro-Israel views.JNi.Media