Pro-Israel flyers handed out before intifada play


Pro-Israel groups plan to hand out flyers at theatres across the country as part of a “counterbalance” campaign in response to the Palestinian play The Siege.

The production, by the West Bank’s Freedom Theatre, focuses on the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where dozens of suspected Palestinian terrorists hid during the Second Intifada in 2002.

The play was due to be premiered on Wednesday at The Lowry in Salford.

Israel supporters have claimed the work glorifies terrorism, and have criticised Arts Council England for providing funds of £14,000 for its UK tour.

Theatres in Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow and Nottingham are also due to stage performances. The Battersea Arts Centre in London said its show next week had sold out.

The Zionist Federation has organised a national campaign, providing leaflets to grassroots groups which will hand them out to theatre-goers when the play is in their area.

An agreement was struck with The Lowry for four pro-Israel campaigners to distribute leaflets in the foyer of the theatre.
The group was due to include representatives of North-West Friends of Israel, the ZF, Zionist Central Council and the Manchester Jewish Representative Council.

Ahead of the performance, NWFOI vice-chair Stuart Ailion, who led the campaign in Manchester, said: “We will engage with theatre-goers to redress the balance of facts presented in the production. We categorically are not trying to ban the play or boycott it — we just want to set out another view.”

Fiona Sharpe of Sussex Friends of Israel said flyers would be handed out when The Siege moves to Hastings on May 28.
The play tells of the stand-off that took place when Israeli troops cornered gunmen in the Church of the Nativity.

Publicity material for the tour — which ends in Glasgow in June — referred to the men as “fighters”, although they were members of terrorist groups Hamas and Al Aqsa Brigade.

All 13 had killed innocent civilians and two of the group boasted about the murders in an interview with the New York Times.

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