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CT Opera will not abort Israel trip

2010-10-27 13:33
Cape Town - Cape Town Opera on Wednesday rejected calls by former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu to abort a planned visit to Israel next month in protest over Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

In a statement, the opera's managing director Michael Williams said that while it respected Tutu's views, it was "first and foremost an arts company that believes in promoting universally held human values through the medium of opera".

As such the opera was "reluctant to adopt the essentially political position of disengagement from cultural ties with Israel or with Palestine," Williams said.

Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for leading peaceful resistance to the apartheid regime, said on Tuesday "it would be wrong" for the opera to go ahead with the visit.

"Just as we said during apartheid that it was inappropriate for international artists to perform in South Africa in a society founded on discriminatory laws and racial exclusivity, so it would be wrong for Cape Town Opera to perform in Israel," the retired archbishop said in a statement.

Cape Town Opera is set to perform Gershwin's Porgy and Bess at the Tel Aviv Opera House from November 12 to 27. The visit is its first to Israel.

Williams said negotiations with Israeli organisers for the tour began four years ago.

"We were throughout aware of the possibility of being seen as being partisan in the Middle Eastern conflict and accordingly negotiations to perform within the Arab world have been and are ongoing," he said.

"In particular, Cape Town Opera welcomes the opportunity to perform within Palestine as well," Williams added.

Tutu, an outspoken critic of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, accuses Tel Aviv Opera of furthering Israel's "fallacious claim to being a civilised democracy" by "luring" international artists to perform in the coastal city.

Last month he called on the University of Johannesburg to sever its ties with Israel's Ben Gurion University. The university senate ultimately voted to do so within six months unless Ben Gurion University met certain conditions, including involvement with Palestinian universities.
Read more on:    desmond tutu  |  israel  |  music  |  theatre

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