Israeli state funded Batsheva Dance performance disrupted

There have been four disruptions of the Batsheva Dance Ensemble’s performance at Brighton Dome tonight. Over 70 people protested against the dance performance outside the venue while several people purchased tickets and protested inside the performance.

Soon after the performance began shouts of ‘free Palestine’ and ‘end the occupation’ rang out inside the Dome. The performance was repeatedly disrupted by a total of four pairs of demonstrators.

The demonstrators are responding to a call from the people of Palestine for a campaign of ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ similar to the boycott campaign waged against apartheid South Africa. The demonstration included many Jewish people who oppose Israel’s policies.

The demonstrators informed attenders at the performance that Israel’s Batsheva dance company is financed by the Israeli state, invested in by Israeli arms companies and the racist Jewish national fund which works openly to dispossess Palestinians and replace them with Jewish immigrants.

One of the two planned performances of this company has been cancelled, and Friday’s performance will be subject to special security arrangements.

Andrew Comben, the Dome Director, has appealed to ‘artistic freedom’ to justify the Batsheva appearance, but the demonstrators argue this is an empty defence in light of the oppression and war crimes faced by the Palestinians. The apartheid wall, checkpoints and military attacks leave them no freedom to perform and travel as Israeli companies do.

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, has stated that ‘Constituents have raised concerns with me about forthcoming performances by the dance group Batsheva and I’ve passed those on to Brighton Dome – asking whether they took the cultural boycott into consideration when making decisions about events’.

The Brighton demonstration is one of a series taking place at Batsheva performances around the country – including Edinburgh, Bradford, Salford, Leicester, London and Plymouth. These local demonstrations are part of a wider and growing ‘Don’t Dance with Israeli Apartheid’ campaign which faced Batsheva during its North American tour earlier this year, and will surely face it during its future tours.

Notes 
For information about the Don’t Dance with Israeli Apartheid campaign see  http://www.no2brandisrael.org/

For information about the Edinburgh demonstrations see

 http://www.boycottisraelnetwork.net/?p=1744

Full statement by Caroline Lucas MP:

As a long standing campaigner for peace, justice and freedom in Palestine, I am committed to raising awareness of ongoing human rights abuses against the Palestinians and the Israeli state’s continued breaching of international law. Israel’s sponsorship of arts and cultural events is one deliberate way in which it is actively seeking to repair the reputational damage inflicted by its treatment of Palestinians, so Palestinian civil society has called for a full cultural boycott of all cultural performers and exhibitors that are institutionally linked to the Israeli state. The arts can play a role in helping to build bridges between the two communities but their potential to act as a forum for promoting peace and understanding is being undermined by the restrictions placed on Palestinian artists and performers who want to participate in tours or festivals abroad, for example. For this reason, I believe cultural boycotts should be applied on a case by case basis.

Constituents have raised concerns with me about forthcoming performances by the dance group Batsheva and I’ve passed those on to Brighton Dome – asking whether they took the cultural boycott into consideration when making decisions about events.

For further information and comment phone
(0044) 7778625910 or
(0044) 7778110961

Source: Indymedia

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