For Immediate Release
Contact: Liz Lauren, 212.494.0050 • TheJTNY@aol.com • www.JewishTheater.org
US Department of State Censors The Jewish Theater of New York
The Jewish Theater of New York deeply regrets the action taken by the US Dept. of State, in clear violation of Free Speech and Freedom of the Arts.
***UPDATE!! Free Speech Upheld: State Dept. Changes Course Following Media Exposure. Bravo! READ***
The Jewish Theater has recently learned that Mr. Neil Klopfenstein, Director of the Foreign Press Centers (FPC) in Washington D.C., banned notice of The Jewish Theater of New York's current stage production of the play, SAIDA, from release to foreign journalists in the USA. The reason for taking this action, an employee of the FPC informed us, is that the State Dept. fears a play produced by The Jewish Theater of New York dealing with Arabs, Jews, Tunisians and the Arab Spring might be "controversial." Controversial, of course, is not good -- and the decision was immediately made: the government must exclude notice of the performance of SAIDA from being released to foreign journalists.
Initially, Mr. Klopfenstein tried explaining his motives in heady diplomatic lingo. But when faced with the facts as they became clear to us, he chose not to respond.
While none of us thinks that the State Dept. is obligated to list any event whatsoever, and we are grateful to the FPC for including our past shows in their notices over the years, we believe that the reason for exclusion in this case does not belong in a democratic society. In a democracy, the government has no business getting involved in deciding which theater play is kosher and which is not. In addition, censoring "controversial" works of art should be left to dictators of the worst kind. Is "controversy" not permitted in the USA any longer? Does this Administration believe that all of us must think the same?
We think this is a mockery of justice.
As we speak, American aircrafts drop tons of missiles in far away lands, killing an untold number of people, all in the name of guaranteeing and securing Free Speech and Democracy. Thousands upon thousands of American soldiers are ordered into battles and wars that are not ours, also in the name of Free Speech and Democracy.
If Free Speech is so good, justifying our killing of so many for its sake, it had better be practiced in our land first.
As befitting dark regimes all over history, the employee who shared this particular story with us has been punished by reprimand. She revealed a 'State Secret.'
We bow our heads to this lady of valor, as we shamefully lower our eyes at the behavior of her superiors.
Let Freedom Ring!
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Read: The Jewish Week on SAIDA
Read: Al-Arabiya on SAIDA
Read: Yediot Ahronot (in Hebrew)
Read: Turkish Journal on SAIDA