Jaffa Theater and the Cultural Crisis in Israel

Nov 30 2017


New Israel Fund's DC Office
2100 M St. NW Suite 619,
Washington, DC 20037


A conversation with leading Israeli theater researcher, author and peace building activist, Lee Perlman 
moderated by Stephen Stern of Mosaic Theater

Light breakfast will be available at 8:45 am

In recent years, Israeli Minister of Culture Miri Regev has vilified artistic institutions like the Jaffa Theater, and even threatened to withdraw public funding. What was the theater’s crime? Giving voice to Palestinian narratives, producing stories about Jewish-Arab shared society, and using art to critically engage with the challenges of Israeli society.

While Jewish and Arab artists battle to keep their work from being shut down, artists and activists are mobilizing together in unprecedented ways. Lee Perlman, who has been at the forefront of this pushing back against the government’s campaign of intimidation, also challenges some of the cultural establishment’s societal attitudes and track record.

Join us for a breakfast conversation and hear about the current state of the cultural battlefield in Israel, how it both threatens and strengthens democracy, and how arts and culture are driving social change.

This event is presented by the New Israel Fund, J Street DC Metro, the Foundation for Middle East Peace, Americans for Peace Now, and Mosaic Theater.

Lee Perlman, PhD., is a research fellow at the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, Tel Aviv University. Perlman is a contributing author to the anthology Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict. In 2013, Ha’aretz named Perlman as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Israeli Culture.” He has previously served as executive director of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and as director of grants and programs of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, an organization promoting shared society and equality. Perlman has recently published “But Abu Ibrahim, We’re Family!”: a series of case studies, which describes collaborations of Jewish and Palestinian professional theater artists in Israel, creating theater about their realities.  It analyzes the socio-political and socio-cultural significance of four “joint productions” – collaborative professional theater productions by Jewish and Palestinian citizens of the State of Israel between the years 2000 and 2010. To read a recent interview of Perlman, click here.

Stephen R. Stern is Co-Founder of Friends of Taghyeer Movement, supporting and advising the Taghyeer (Change) Palestinian National Nonviolence Movement. He is a Founding Board member of Mosaic Theater and co-chair of its Public Programming effort. Stephen has for the past twenty years created public conversations and programs on communities and cultures in conflict, many focused on Israel and Palestine. Stephen was the director, co-creator and co-author of Waziristan to Washington: A Muslim at the Crossroads – a one-person play performed by Akbar Ahmed – about Ambassador Ahmed’s life and times. Stephen spent 11 years at the World Bank, working on community participation and social development in its Asia Regions, and served as a core team member for Bank President James Wolfensohn’s global culture and sustainable development initiative. Stephen was a founding partner and actor with the internationally acclaimed Otrabanda Theater Company with which he performed original and adapted theater works in Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and in 35 states in the US.