I almost want to scold Habimah, Israel's national theater group, for choosing The Merchant of Venice to stage at the Globe Theate as part of an international Shakespeare festival. Merchant? Really? It's an edgy choice, but edgy in a sort of dated way. I would, honestly, rather have seen an Israeli-nuanced King Lear, or The Winter's Tale. But I'm not in London anyway, and nobody asked me.
However, any criticism of Habimah's choice has to be overshadowed by the cheerfulness with which I report that, yet again, the forces of BDS have produced great Sturm und Drang, and two sold-out performances for Habimah in London.
In the end, it all came down to a protest outside, a counterprotest, a lot of police checking bags, and then,
In sooth, I know not why I am so sad:
It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn;
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
That I have much ado to know myself.
Israel wins, Shakespeare wins, London, strutting her cultural stuff for the Olympics, wins, and the Palestinian company who performed Richard II wins. BDS loses.
In nosing around for information on the event, I happened to run across this piece by Harry Glass at Worker's Liberty. They're a Trotskyite group, which raises my hackles to begin with, and I am not thrilled by Glass's light use of the term 'atrocity' toward the end of this piece. (So basically, this is a reading suggestion, not an endorsement) It is a well-written, well-reasoned, far-left critique of BDS, thorough and coming from a clear worldview that extends beyond the irrational self-congratulation of BDS supporters. I found myself impressed.
Glass writes: BDS needs to be fought politically, because it stands in the path of two states, the only consistently democratic solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. But BDS is ultimately a pessimistic approach. It put the agency for change outside of the region.
Read it in full.