Edinburgh shows support for Batsheva post-protests

Anti-Israel activists had called on the Edinburgh Festival to drop the Batsheva Dance Company.

Batsheva Company 370 (photo credit: Gadi Dagon )
Batsheva Company 370
(photo credit: Gadi Dagon )
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.
Leading 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 added.
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.”
The 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 “Free Palestine.”
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 disturbances.
“The activists’ attempts to prevent Batsheva from performing and putting Israel’s fine culture on display have failed,” Livnat said.
“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 added.
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.