The National Theatre of Norway´s official apology for the cooperation with Habima


In 2014 The National Theatre of Norway
collaborated with Habima, The National Theatre of Israel, on the project TERRORISMs organised
by the European Theatre Union, UTE. Habima breaks the law when they perform in illegal
Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Gjertrud Synge, Spokesperson.
The National Theatre of Norway. Ladies and gentlemen, This is a great day for
The National Theatre of Norway. It is the day when
we publicly apologise for our shameful
collaboration with Habima, The National
Theatre of Israel. When our theatre director agreed
upon this collaboration two years ago we did not know what a powerful role
Habima and other Israeli art institutions play in normalising
the Israeli occupation. We did not know
that art and theatre are extremely important
tools for the State of Israel to build up the image of
itself as a humanistic nation, and not as the apartheid
state that it actually is. We did not know because we
had not done|one single piece of research. We did not know that the
united Palestinian civil society are fighting for a full economic and
cultural boycott of the State of Israel simply because they
cannot find any other solution to end the occupation
and the continuous warfare. We did not know because,
actually, we didn’t bother to find out. So how, ladies and gentlemen,
in the name of Ibsen and Sophocles, could we have
been so blind? Just as we
were collaborating, Israel executed its
horrific bombing on the Gaza Strip. Five hundred Palestinian
children lost their lives while Habima was busy
entertaining Israeli soldiers. While 370,000 Palestinian
children, according to UNICEF, suffered from explicit
trauma caused by Israeli bombings, we were busy embracing the
rhetoric of cultural dialog. Dialog! Cultural dialog! As if it was a
conflict between equal parties that only needs some dialogic
therapy and then hatred will disappear. This is a
colonial conflict. It’s not some passionate feud
between the Montagues and the Capulets, who only need to sit down and talk
and then love will flourish forever. It is a colonial conflict
based on ethnic cleansing, racism, occupation and apartheid. But of course we didn’t know and for this
we are very, very sorry and awfully ashamed. Ladies and gentlemen, you now think that
these are just words, just empty words from yet
another communication officer. But from the bottom of our
middle-class hearts – they are not. The Habima case has forced us,
at the National Theatre of Norway, to understand that we no
longer can run a country’s theatre separate from
the global reality. We cannot let
ourselves be tools to build up the power and
prestige of the oppressive elites. And this goes for all
the theatres of Europe. To avoid these nightmares of
shame that we have just experienced, we have to expose
ourselves to the outside world. We have to break down our
hierarchical institutions, free ourselves from the
slavery of commercialism and take on a gigantic
load of personal risk. Only then can the art of theatre
be important in the years to come. We will lose money. We will make enemies. But in doing so we will
actually have something in common with the majority of
our European audience. And we, at The
National Theatre of Norway, will lead the way starting
with these three promises: One, The National Theatre of Norway will
fully support the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment
and Sanctions of Israel. With immediate effect we
will also cancel our membership with the politically
irresponsible European Theatre Union. Two, For two years,
starting on 2017, we will dedicate all
our means of production to work with the
situation in the Middle East. The Theatre has
huge artistic resources and 30 million euros
per year at our disposal. And we cannot wait to use
them to explore this region that is so defining
for our common future. In this period,
our director, Hanne T�mta, will give 50% of her salary to
Palestinian theatre in the West Bank and Gaza. Three, The theatre will
use these years to reorganize the theatre
in an egalitarian structure more like the structure we
imagine for our future society. And lastly, the Habima case has
made us remember something that we had forgotten
for a very long time. Theatre can be important. And for this reminder
we are forever grateful. Free Palestine! Long live The
National Theatre of Norway!

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