Israel fumes over Norwegian theater boycott video
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Israel fumes over Norwegian theater boycott video

Artists release clip falsely claiming to be by Norway's National Theater, in which it says it's terminating cooperation with its Israeli counterpart over 'apartheid'

Pia Maria Roll in a video staged to appear like a Norway National Theater statement boycotting cooperation with Israel's Habima, uploaded September 22, 2016. (screen capture: YouTube)
Pia Maria Roll in a video staged to appear like a Norway National Theater statement boycotting cooperation with Israel's Habima, uploaded September 22, 2016. (screen capture: YouTube)

Israeli diplomats on Saturday fumed over a video posing as an official statement by the Norwegian National Theater, that calls for a cultural boycott of Israel’s National Theater, Habima.

The short clip, which was uploaded to YouTube Thursday after being aired at the biennial International Ibsen Festival in Oslo, shows an actress posing as the national theater’s spokeswoman. In it she calls for a boycott of Habima.

The actress in the film, Pia Maria Roll, says the theater would like to “publicly apologize for our shameful collaboration with Habima, the national theater of Israel,” adding that the cooperation served in “normalizing the Israeli occupation.” She called Israel a state “based on ethnic cleansing, racism, occupation and apartheid,” and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “colonial” — “it’s not some passionate feud between the Montagues and Capulets.”

The film said the theater would join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), and concluded with “Free Palestine and long live the national theater of Norway.”

Norwegian news site Vartoland said Roll and fellow actor Marius von der Fehr were behind the film, which expressed their opinion. Roll said their intention was to trick people into thinking the statement was made by the theater.

Norway’s National Theater said in a statement on its website that the film didn’t represent the institution’s policies and that it believes in cooperation with various nations abroad. It stopped short of condemning the video, calling it an expression of free speech.

Habima’s director said the film was made “behind the back of the administration” and that the national theater “guaranteed us that they would send a letter of clarification to me that [the message] broadcast in the film is not the stance of the theater.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry, however, said the video was reminiscent of “the sick brainchild of [Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph] Goebbels’ propaganda, the Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, and the Norwegian collaborators [Vidkun] Quisling and [Knut] Hamson.”

“The State of Israel demands that the Norwegian National Theater, in whose name the libelous remarks are made, clearly and immediately denounce the film and act to remove it from every website and network,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement to Ynet. The ministry said it would also take steps to remove the film from the internet.

As of the time of publication the video still appeared on YouTube.

The Norwegian Embassy in Israel also issued a statement in response to the film, saying Oslo “firmly opposes boycott.”

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