When I read about the cancellation, I was just so depressed. It doesn’t make sense to me that I can perform for kids throughout Israel, but in East Jerusalem, children can’t watch puppet shows. I started talking about this with all of my puppetry friends, and we decided to denounce the situation by using all types of protest.
Beyond the petitions
, we wanted to do things that were fun – that’s sort of what our job is all about. So Yousef and I launched a Facebook page and asked people send in pictures of themselves posing with their puppets and a sign. The response has been overwhelming. We’ve had lots of Israelis send in photos, including renowned TV and film actors like Moshe Ivgy
, Oz Zehavi
, Alon Abutbul
, Yousef Sweid
, and many more. But we’ve also gotten incredible support from the worldwide puppetry community, with people sending in photos from France, Taiwan, Spain, India, Germany, Iceland… Other types of artists sent in pictures, too; there was even a Butoh
dancer from Japan!
“What has heartened me is to see that puppets have managed to unite Israelis from across the political spectrum”
What has heartened me most, though, is to see that puppets – and by extension, children – managed to unite Israelis from across the political spectrum. In Israel, when someone says any little thing that can be interpreted as supporting Palestinians, they’re quickly categorized as left-wingers who hate their own country. So it was great to receive a photo from a man with a sign reading: “I’m right-winged, and I still think this is a shame”.
The government hasn’t provided any proof that the theatre was supported by the Palestinian authority. But even if it turned out it was… what is the point of cancelling shows that kids enjoy, and that have absolutely nothing to do with politics? What harm can come of it? On the other hand, these Palestinian kids, when their parents tell them, ‘sorry, no festival this year, the government cancelled it’, well, they’re not going to carry Israel in their hearts…
I doubt our campaign will change the political situation, but as the images spread online, I hope that politicians will see them, and next time they think of cancelling something that brings nothing but smiles and laughter, maybe they’ll think twice.