LONDON – Organizers of the annual Edinburgh Festival have taken in their stride
disturbances by anti-Israel activists after they interrupted performances of the
Tel Aviv-based Batsheva Dance Company.
The internationally acclaimed dance
company performed “Hora” at the Edinburgh Playhouse over three nights as part of
the world famous festival, with the final show on Saturday night.
up to the festival, organizers came under pressure by radical activists to
cancel Batsheva’s appearance in Edinburgh.
Paying tribute to a “superb”
performance on Thursday night a festival spokesman said: “There was some
disruption in the auditorium but the show went on.
“We thank the audience
for their patience and their support of the artists. And we thank the artists
for their poise and their superb performance,” the spokesman
Activists had called on organizers to cancel the renowned dance
group’s performance, saying it was “actively complicit in whitewashing Israeli
human rights abuse, apartheid and occupation of Palestinian land.”
festival’s director Jonathan Mills said that the festival supported freedom of
expression and people’s right to protest, but “equally the festival defends the
rights of all artists, irrespective of nationality, creed or culture, to have
their voices heard.”
Activists then stepped up efforts and set up a
campaign titled “Don’t dance with Israeli apartheid” which called on people to
write again to Mills and to demonstrate and disrupt the performances of the
“brand Israel asset.”
On Thursday night, around 100 activists protested
outside the theater while a small number interrupted the performance shouting
They were immediately ejected by security and the
performance, which was attended by Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat and
Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub, went on.
The performers received a
standing ovation by the audience, who also applauded them during the
“The activists’ attempts to prevent Batsheva from
performing and putting Israel’s fine culture on display have failed,” Livnat
“We will not surrender to cultural terror by
Israel-haters. The show was spectacular, the Scottish audience applauded
the dancers while activists were hurling anti-Israel slurs at them,” she
The Israeli Embassy said that the disturbances were clearly
motivated by a desire to “sow hatred” and did not stem from a wish to help the
Palestinian people or to advance peace in the region.
On Friday night
there were only a couple of disturbances.