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A Simple Story in Habima

Several leftwing creative and academic professionals have protested the decision of Israel’s national theater, Habima, to perform the show “A Simple Story,” written by Shahar Pinkas based on a S. Y. Agnon novel by the same name, in the JCC of Kiryat Arba, Hebron, next month, Ha’aretz reported Monday. The protesters called on Habima to cancel the performance, scheduled for November 10. Habima will also perform the same show on March 8 at the Ariel auditorium.

Haim Weiss, who teaches at Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva, wrote on his Facebook page: “As far as I was able to verify, this is the first time the Habima theater will perform in Kiryat Arba. The willingness of the theater, its workers and actors to take part in the normalization of the occupation by turning Kiryat Arba into yet another town where they perform is very troubling.”

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Weiss asks, “Was it the financial difficulties the theater is facing and the hope that appearing in Hebron would cause the Culture Minister and other Ministers to support them, that led to the decision on performing in Kiryat Arba-Hebron?”

Last April, Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud) issued a directive whereby theatrical institutions that perform in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria will receive a 10% increase in their state budgets, while institutions that refuse to include these communities in their schedule will suffer a 33% cut. The Israeli Civil Liberties Association has appealed the directive to the Supreme Court.

Weiss, who urged his Facebook friends to protest the decision, said it would be a great shame should Habima appear in “one of the most racist and violent bastions of the occupation.” He attached a picture of a banner advertising the November show, saying it was “symbolic that the banner for this shameful show was hung on a barbed wire fence.”

Written in 1935, “A Simple Story” describes the tribulations of a young man in Jewish community in a small town in eastern Europe, who loses his sanity over his love for a woman he could not marry. The novel is also a poignant social criticism of the bourgeois values of European Jews, who chase after food, drink, honor and avarice.

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