A wild story out of Berlin perfectly encapsulates the anti-Zionist obsessions of the world of arts and culture, as well as the way pro-Palestinian movements degrade and destroy their own coalitions.

If this story were fiction, it would be dismissed as too on-the-nose.

Appropriately, this is about performance art. Over the weekend, Cuban artist Tania Bruguera performed her piece Where Your Ideas Become Civic Actions, which is a round-the-clock, 100-hour live reading of Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. Unfortunately, at the 88-minute mark it was shut down by pro-Palestinian activists. (It is purely coincidental, though no less amusing for it, that 88 is neo-Nazi code for “heil Hitler,” or HH.)

The protesters had interrupted the performance earlier Saturday as Bruguera was reading from the book, but they left and came back 88 minutes in to shut it down during one of the stretches when it was being read by a guest reader. That guest reader was Mirjam Wenzel, director of the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt.

The exchanges between the artist and the protesters during these two interruptions are worth highlighting for what they tell us about everyone involved.

Bruguera is—quite famously, though her name is a hint—a Cuban dissident. The Palestinian protesters got in her face and called her “gringa.” They called one of the gallery’s directors, Sam Bardaouil, who is Lebanese, “an Arab with light skin.” In other words, Germans were seeing the familiar sight of anti-Semites marching through town calling anyone with Jewish friends or colleagues a “race traitor.” Onlookers were horrified to see the ghosts of Germany’s past reappear wearing keffiyehs instead of jackboots.

Easily the most pathetic part of the play stoppage was when Bruguera tried to defend her honor. I cringed watching it, and I cringed again while writing this. “First of all, you don’t know who I am,” Bruguera shouts at the protesters after a while. “You don’t know my history. You don’t know everything I’ve done for Palestinians and for all the people in the world.”

The clashing of tectonic-plate-sized egos, white people yelling at Cubans that they’re white—it might as well as have been Park Slope instead of Berlin.

Of course, Bruguera signed an open letter calling Israel’s counteroffensive in Gaza a “genocide.” But she was out of her league here, among professional anti-Semites. The protesters went on a stark-raving-mad rant about the lesser humanity of “Zionists” (meaning people with Jewish-sounding names) and the legitimacy of violence toward them while this poor woman was reduced to asking them if they had a gun and were going to shoot her. For that, Bruguera was deemed a racist.

The icing on the cake is that before the performance opened, Bruguera gave an interview to the The Art Newspaper’s podcast, “The Week in Art.” In it, the host and Bruguera went on at length about how this is such an appropriate time to read Hannah Arendt because of how Germany censors anyone who criticizes Israel. Bruguera went so far as to say that Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei’s ridiculous comment that censorship in the West is the same as in Mao’s China didn’t go far enough. “I think it’s worse” than in Mao’s China, Bruguera asserts, because “the censorship in China was [at least] condemned by the world.”

To review: The crackdown on anti-Jewish incitement is itself totalitarian, and those enforcing it are worse than Mao. This from the woman deemed a race-traitor for “platforming Zionists.”

The protesters interrupted the Jewish Museum director by shouting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” the genocidal call for eliminating all non-Arabs from the land. Later on, they shared with an art website an unsigned statement that read: “In the last weeks, we have seen attempts at holding ‘Israel’ accountable for the terrorist, genocidal acts it commits against the Palestinian people—but they have all failed to achieve any relief for the innocent people being murdered, maimed, displaced, and taken hostage every day by the terrorist ‘state of Israel.’”

The point of the scare quotes around “Israel” is to deny its existence and the legitimacy of Jewish rights in the land.

The same day as the Arendt protest, several hundred pro-Hamas demonstrators shut down the Museum of Modern Art in New York. They unfurled a genocidal banner to call attention to the fact that some of the museum’s trustees are Jewish.

This Stalinization of the art world is among the least surprising developments in the global war on the Jews. Progressive activists in the art world long ago made their bed and will now lie in it. They probably won’t fall asleep in it though, what with all the chanting and shouting.

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