The Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Centre in North Miami Beach, Florida chose to cancel the drama ‘Crossing Jerusalem’ after community members protested the anti-Jewish elements and “false paradigm of the Arab-Israeli conflict” they felt the play portrayed, reported newspaper South Florida Sun-Sentinel on 29 February 2016.
“Please know that our intentions in presenting ‘Crossing Jerusalem’ are good ones, and yet we realize we have unintentionally caused pain to many in the audience,” centre president Gary Bomzer wrote in a letter to community members. “While we were aware that the play deals with some very controversial issues, the last thing we wanted was to alienate members of our community or damage relationships.”
The controversial play, which opened on 10 February 2016 and was cancelled midway through its run, was written by British playwright Julia Pascal and recounts 24 hours in the life of an Israeli family as they cross Jerusalem during the 2002 intifada.
“I am extremely surprised that a small group has succeeded in censoring my work,” Pascal wrote in a statement. “It is amazing that in the USA — the country of freedom and free speech — a play by a renowned London Jewish author, with strong credentials and a long history of success, has been censored in this way.”
Artsfex member the National Coalition Against Censorship has criticised the centre’s decision to cancel the play calling it “a betrayal of free expression that undermines the centre’s commitment to ‘rigorous, vibrant conversation’” and urged the centre to re-schedule the performances.
Photo from the centre’s cultural arts theatre’s Facebook page
» South Florida Sun-Sentinel – 29 February 2016:
Play’s cancellation sparks reaction
» National Coalition Against Censorship – 23 February 2016:
Artists, anti-censorship group protest cancellation of Israel-Palestine play
» Quartz – 23 February 2016:
American Zionists are censoring Jewish community theatre
» Artsfreedom.org – 21 May 2015:
USA: Anti-censorship theatre event censored