Theater solidarity event with Paletinian El-Hakawati in Jaffa

Hundreds participated at Mahsan 2 at Jaffa Port on Saturday night, with dozens of attendees standing in the side and rear wings of the theater, for a night of entertainment in solidarity with the Palestinian National Theater El-Hakawati and its executive director Mohammad Halayka.

Artists, actors, musicians, human rights activists and MKs will take part in a solidarity demonstration with occupied east Jerusalem’s El-Hakawati Theater, which was closed by occupation officials prior to last month’s scheduled week-long puppet festival for children. Known as the Palestinian national theater, the El-Hakawati has been hosting the festival for 18 years, and it is one of the highlights in the calendar of local children. It has always included puppet theater groups from abroad, in addition to Israeli groups.

Actors and activists organized a night of performances in Jaffa, in solidarity with El-Hakawati Theater, July 20, 2013 (Photo: Activestills)

The protest event was organized by a group of five Israeli and Palestinian activists and actors. Mahsan 2 donated the venue space for the evening and sound, lighting and stage technicians volunteered their time for the event.

Approximately 30 performers and speakers, including famous Israeli and Palestinian musicians, actors, activists and Knesset members, among them MK Dov Khenin (Hadash), got on stage to mobilize support for El-Hakawati and express their solidarity. The International Association of Theater for Children and Young People – also sent a message of support.

“We worked hard to do something good for children,” Halayka said, speaking in English to the Israeli audience. The idea was to offer Palestinian children, who have few opportunities to experience culture and entertainment in East Jerusalem, one week of the year, between the school year ending and the start of Ramadan, to have some fun. “This issue really touched a sensitive chord,” said Anat Matar, one of the event organizers. “It touches something much bigger than El-Hakawati.” Journalist Gideon Levy (Haaretz), speaking to the audience, said people like Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch should be ostracized, and that it would be sensible for Israeli artists to refuse to perform for people like him.

Related:  Israeli puppeteers protest closing of Palestinian theater festival
                Israeli shuts down Palestinian childrens theater festival in occupied east Jerusalem