Itay Tiran, a leading Israeli theater actor, and director has come out in defense of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement arguing it is “a perfectly legitimate form of resistance.”
During an interview with Haaretz, Tiran also references the recently-approved controversial Nation-State Law. “If the nation-state law is a reference point from which you calculate where Israeli society is, then clearly it’s a racist, non-egalitarian law; another step in the nationalist shift taking place here,” he said prompting journalist Ravit Hecht to ask “you’re saying Zionism equals racism, no matter what? That Zionism equals colonialism?” To which Tiran answered “Yes, exactly. So we all have to look at the truth, and then take a side.”
The BDS movement has been attacked by Israel’s political mainstream and Zionists who claim the movement's fight to end the Israeli military occupation of Palestine is anti-semitic. The Israeli government has gone as far as banning Jewish anti-occupation activists from entering the country.
Despite attempts to ban BDS activists from Israel and Palestine and lobby campaigns for legislation against BDS-related activities abroad, the movement continues to gain traction, especially within the cultural scene.
Between August and September over 15 bands canceled their participation in Israel’s widely anticipated Meteor festival, including its main act Lana Del Rey, after BDS pressure urging them not to whitewash “occupation and apartheid.”
On Tuesday the Canadian-based band Of Montreal announced they were also canceling their appearance at the festival arguing “playing an Israeli party festival, while the political and military leaders of the country continue their murderous and brutal policies against the Palestinian people” was unjustifiable.
“Now is not the time for escapism and celebrations. Now is the time for activism and protests against Israeli apartheid,” the band wrote in an official statement.
On Wednesday, BDS gained important support from within the Israeli arts and culture scene.
“If what finally leads to a solution here will be non-violent pressure, conducted as political discourse, then why not support it? It’s a humanist approach, and it’s also practical … I think it will prevent the next wars,” Tiran told a Haaretz reporter in an interview conducted on the eve of his departure to Germany.
These are not Tiran’s first statements against the Israeli occupation and in support of BDS. In 2010 he was one of the leading signatories of an open letter urging theater artists not to perform at a cultural center opening in Ariel, one of Israel’s biggest settlements in the occupied West Bank.
“You get up in the morning, drink your coffee and read the paper. You look at a story and say, so is this the moment in which we’ve become fascist or isn’t it?,” Tiran deplored during the interview.