Archives for posts with tag: Ari Roth

Chronicling what they see as ‘a deeply disturbing, and increasingly common, trend toward censorship in the American Jewish community,’ Jewish Voice for Peace have warned in an open letter of how damaging this trend is to the arts, and have called ‘on arts institutions to recommit to plurality.’

In the US, being Zionist and anti-BDS just isn’t enough to placate Israel’s self-styled defenders.

Last week’s firing of playwright Ari Roth from his position as Artistic Director of Washington DC Jewish Community Center’s Theater J has elicited expressions of sadness and outrage from artists and activists across the United States: a letter signed by over 60 prominent theatrical Artistic Directors in America deplores the actions of the JCC, which ‘in terminating him for blatantly political reasons, violate the principles of artistic freedom and free expression that have been at the heart of the non-profit theater movement for over half a century. Such actions undermine the freedom of us all. A free people need a free art; debate, dissent, and conflict are at the heart of what makes theater work, and what makes democracy possible.’ They have called upon the full Board of the JCC to renounce this action of the Executive Committee of the JCC. A further letter signed by 34 writers, theatre artists, academics, musicians and community activists, to the board of the JCC characterizes Roth’s firing as an act of censorship and the circumstances surrounding it ‘a form of creeping McCarthyism.’ Read the rest of this entry »

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This story illustrates the extent to which Zionist pressure and interference in the arts poses a significant threat to freedom of expression. The tactics employed by pressure groups conform to a pattern that is familiar to artists and arts organisations in the UK. These tactics include: threats and campaigns to defund, writing to sponsors; internal pressure from within organisations by pro-Israel advocates; and reputational damage, following smears.

The US playwright Ari Roth, who had served as artistic director of Theater J for 18 years, was fired on Thursday; Theater J is a program of the Washington DC Jewish Community Center (DCJCC), which is a partner agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. The firing of Roth by the Executive Director of DCJCC was the culmination of a five year campaign of threats and smears initiated by a Zionist lobby group against Roth and the theatre for their programming of several productions considered sympathetic to the Palestinian cause – including Return to Haifa, a play based on a novella by assassinated Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani -, bringing Roth into conflict with donors and the executive committee. He told the Washington Post that the Centre offered him a severance agreement that he refused to sign: ‘“They’ve crafted a letter that’s saying I’m resigning, not fired,” said Roth, adding: “I was terminated abruptly.”’

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