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Three Israeli Actors Refuse to Star in West Bank Performance

Three Israeli stage actors asked to be excused from performing in a play staged at a cultural center in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

The cast members, employees of the Cameri and Beit Lessin theaters, will be replaced by understudies for the performances of the acclaimed play “Best Friends” taking place in Ariel in the northern West Bank, the theaters said in a statement, the Associated Press reported.

The Cameri said in its statement that is respects the political views of its employees.

“The theater does not force its actors to perform in Ariel. Those who are not interested are replaced by their colleagues. The Cameri Theater chose to allow its actors to exercise their freedom of expression and follow their conscience,” the statement said.

The Ariel cultural center, which cost more than $10 million, was built with public funds and inaugurated in November 2010. More than 50 Israeli theater professionals signed a petition in advance of its opening saying that they would not perform in the Ariel center. At least 150 Israeli academics and authors, and another 150 American and British television and film professionals, also threw their support behind the boycott.

Several major Israeli theaters have staged productions at the Ariel center. Ariel is one of the largest Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

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