JERUSALEM: A Portuguese theater director has cancelled his attendance at a major cultural festival opening in Jerusalem this week over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
Tiago Rodrigues said he was dropping out of the Israel Festival so that his work will not “condone and promote a government that deliberately violates human rights.” In a Facebook post on Thursday, he said he was joining a global cultural boycott of Israel that has seen some artists and musicians refuse to perform in Israel.
Rodrigues, who is also an actor and playwright, said he rejected the fact that the festival was not openly critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians while working in cooperation with Israeli government ministries.
The annual Israel Festival, which hosts Israeli and international performers, said it was disappointed by Rodrigues’ decision.
“The Israel Festival has a deep belief in the power of art to express new points of reference, open up people to the recognition of the ‘other,’ and to promote understanding and tolerance,” festival CEO Eyal Sher said in a statement.
Rodrigues’ declaration came after Israeli forces shot and killed nearly 60 Palestinians during a violent protest last week along the border with the Gaza Strip. His cancellation follows international fallout from that violence. Israel faced global condemnation over what critics say was its excessive use of force.—AP