JNS.org – The Peres Center for Peace decided not to include the play “Snow Ball” in its program for the visit of the Barcelona soccer team in Israel, because the play includes the line that “the state of Israel is the national home of all Jews.”
The affair began this April when the new play, directed by Roy Horovitz, was performed as part of the Haifa International Children’s Theatre Festival. The play is based on an original Israeli script that tells the story of Felipe, a 10-year-old new immigrant to Israel from Argentina who is a huge fan of FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi.
After learning that FC Barcelona was coming to Israel, Sherry Aryeh, artistic director of the Israel Children and Youth Social Theater, which produced the play, approached the Peres Center for Peace with the suggestion of performing the play during Messi’s visit to Israel. She suggested the theater perform a festive rendition of the play with the Argentinian star, while Jewish and Palestinian children watched it together. Initially, the Peres Center was very enthusiastic about the initiative. They sent staff members to watch the play and indicated that they were favorably impressed.
But much to the theater’s surprise, the Peres Center ultimately nixed the play, via a letter written by Dvir Zivan, the manager of the Peres Center’s sports department. The email, which was obtained by Israel Hayom, says, “We would be happy to bring all the Jewish children to the play, but there is a problem. We do not do activities intended for one nationality only. It is hard for us to bring Palestinian children to a play that uses the words ‘Jewish state.’ Unfortunately, we will be unable to cooperate on this venture.”
“Snow Ball” director Roy Horovitz said in response that the Peres Center’s decision “caused us great disappointment.”
“What is particularly outrageous is the argument they gave,” Horovitz said. “It’s sad to discover that in a center that carries the name of the president of the state of Israel, there are those who believe that identifying Israel as the Jewish state is a problematic statement that is not part of the consensus.”
“We saw the play during Passover 2013,” read a statement issued by the Peres Center. “At the time, it had nothing to do with the visit by FC Barcelona. We try to display sensitivity in everything connected to presenting material to mixed audiences, and the purpose of the project is to find common denominators and not to emphasize differences. It was decided not to present the play because we feared that its content, as good as it is, would not be suited to all the participants. There is no connection between this and FC Barcelona’s visit.”