linat - Alon Ron - November 23 2010
Limor Livnat with Cameri director Noam Semel earlier this month. Photo by Alon Ron
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The boycott of the cultural center in the West Bank town of Ariel by theater professionals led Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat yesterday to call them "ignoramuses."

The uproar began in September, when actors and public figures signed a petition saying they would not perform in Ariel's newly constructed center as a protest of Israel's settlement policies. The protest was supported by more than 150 academics.

Livnat yesterday gathered her ministry staff to discuss the most recent development, a letter sent by dozens of theater figures boycotting the Ariel center to Be'er Sheva Theater actors, urging them to join the boycott.

Livnat slammed the letter writers, calling some of them "anarchists" and "unsuccessful."

The letter said: "Ariel is not just another community." It stressed that the center was erected on occupied land. "Just several kilometers from the thriving and flourishing Ariel, Palestinians live in refugee camps, in harsh conditions and without any basic human rights," the letter said. It added: "Not only are they not entitled to see performances in Ariel, some of them have no access to running water."

Responding to claims this was not a boycott, Livnat said: "If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck." The minister added: "When they say they won't perform in Ariel or enter Ariel, that is a boycott no matter how you write it."

Livnat criticized the actors earlier this month, saying that the residents of Ariel are "equal citizens of Israel and are entitled to cultural rights just like anyone else in the country."