Round-up of Batsheva Protest at Bradford Alhambra

[This page contains article, photos and videos of the Bradford Batsheva Protest. It will be edited with more articles and media shortly…]

The Bradford Batsheva protests were a big success. There is no doubt that the way the Yorkshire and Lancashire Palestine Solidarity/Friendship branches supported one another was key to the success of the events both in Salford and in Bradford. We also had backing from SWP, Friends of Al Aqsa, local students etc, and a large number of young Muslims doing their bit for Palestine.

Over 100 people turned out on night one. The Policing was heavy handed. Inside the theatre one protester was attacked by a man from the audience, which was reported. Another protester was injured by one of the security staff during the eviction. Six protesters were in the auditorium and the programme was interrupted a number of times and leaflets were distributed. As protesters were ejected from the theatre the Police Superintendent overstepped her authority by threatening those who would not provide personal details with arrest. One of our legal observer stepped in and diffused the situation, the protesters stood their ground and did not give addresses but were prevented from rejoining the outside group. Despite this, spirits were high among protest group. Two theatregoers walked out waving support, unfortunately they did not come over to us. The theatre in alongside a busy dual carriageway and there were constant cheers from passing motorists. One driver parked up when he saw us and joined the demo. He came back the second night too.

On day two we rang the police early. They were about to hold a review of the protest and had seen a strong letter of complaint from one of the protesters, a video clip of police aggressiveness and Twitter messages. The Police called us back mid morning and agreed to all our demands. Superintendent Lawrence was taken off the protest on day two and another officer put in charge. The aggressive officer was also not on duty on day two.

There were protesters already outside when we arrived and the numbers grew until there were more than on day one. The police tried to move us further from the theatre but caved in at once when we objected. Leaflets were distributed around the theatre and in Centenary Square. Once the show started we read to the crowd reports of plans for protests in Rome and Turin. Then a group of young Asian women arrived at the protests having marched through Bradford with face-painted Palestinian flags and chanting slogans. The crowd were ecstatic! When Pia spoke to the crowd as a member of Jew for Justice for Palestine she brought the house down. As on night one, two protesters walked out to cheers from our supporters.

A large number of teenagers, probably two coach loads, all arrived together from Morley Street direction. It was very clear that they had arrived by coach, probably from Leeds and we have no doubt that these people were members of dance schools which had been given free tickets as has happened in Edinburgh. The Alhambra is a civic theatre so they can’t pay for it, and Batsheva lives on state subsidies so the Israeli Foreign Ministry must have picked up the tab for the freebies and coaches.

The protesters came out at intervals during the first half and were given a hero’s welcome. Many of us had to leave soon afterwards to get our trains but a large group of young people wanted to stay. We encouraged them to do so and a video of the young people singing and dancing to the last has been circulated.

Towards the end of the evening a chastened Superintendent Lawrence arrived. She asked to speak to us and gave an “explanation” of the confrontational policing on night one. “Why had we not got in touch, all of this misunderstanding could have been avoided” etc.

Naharin and the dancers must be in despair. We are told that the dancers, who are regarded as cutting-edge, have lost focus and the performances are poor.

Report by Boycott Israel Network 

 

Palestine activists picket Israel dance troupe – by Morning Star

Palestine Solidarity campaigners demonstrated outside a theatre in Bradford in West Yorkshire where a performance by Israeli dance company Batsheva was taking place.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign said that Batsheva, backed by the Israeli government, was being used to promote Israel as a centre of culture. The campaign accused the tour of being no more than a “whitewash” covering Israel’s brutal treatment of Palestinians, theft of their land and suppression of Palestinian culture.

Palestine Solidarity groups from across the north have been picketing performances in major centres including Edinburgh and Manchester.

The two performances at Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre on Tuesday and Wednesday drew large numbers of protesters. Some inside the theatre disrupted the performance.

“There was a very big turnout from supporters with a strong presence of young people and local students from Leeds and Bradford,” said a spokeswoman.

“There was massive visible and audible support with lots of passing cars tooting their support and even flying the Palestinian flag as they drove by.

“Inside, the performance was interrupted three times by protesters orchestrating their protest in a call-response style: ‘This is not art. This is a cultural whitewash. This is not art. Palestinian dancers have no freedom’ with the refrain ‘Free, free Palestine’.”

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