Dance Group Urged to Cut Ties to Brand Israel Campaign

WAFA FEB 22 2012

NEW YORK, February 22, 2012 (WAFA) – More than 20 American and Canadian organizations representing human rights activists and artists have called on the Batsheva Dance Company to cut all ties to the Brand Israel campaign and take a stand against the Israeli government’s violations of Palestinian rights, according to a press release issued Tuesday.

Batsheva will begin a five week North American tour at the end of February, performing in San Francisco, Quebec City, Montréal, New York, Tulsa, Chicago, Austin and Scottsdale.

According to the press release by Adalah – New York, “Should Batsheva fail to take action, their upcoming five-week tour of the United States will be met with demonstrations and a call for boycott of their performances.”

In an open letter to the dance company, the organizations said that because of Batsheva’s ties to the Israeli foreign ministry, it is “actively complicit in whitewashing Israeli human rights abuses, apartheid, and occupation of Palestinian land.”

The letter continues by pointing out that, ‘While Israeli artists and performers are free to tour, exhibits and performances by Palestinian artists are systematically banned, sabotaged, and closed down by Israeli occupation.’

Hana Awwad, longtime member of El Funoun, one of Palestine’s premiere dance troupes, told the human rights organization Adalah-NY, “As a Palestinian dancer based in the West Bank, I am prohibited by the Israeli government from traveling to Gaza for performances. After Israel’s 2008-2009 military assault on Gaza, our Ramallah-based dance troupe resorted to performing for our people in Gaza via a satellite link in protest of Israel’s siege on Gaza. Some of our dancers are also prohibited by the Israeli government from ever accompanying the troupe when it performs in neighboring Palestinian cities and abroad.’

The letter quotes Iman Fakhouri, director of the Popular Arts Centre in Jerusalem, who told human rights activists, “Two of our dance performances were cancelled because Israel denied our dancers entry to Jerusalem and the theater where a German hip hop dancer was to perform was closed down by the Israeli authorities at the last minute. Israeli forces outside the theater were trying to remove people by force. Some people, both from the audience and the artists, were beaten up and arrested.”

The letter said, “We hope Batsheva, like a growing number of Israelis, will take a strong, unequivocal stance against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and support justice and equality for all. Until then, we will continue to urge a popular boycott of, and protests against, your performances throughout North America.”

M.S.





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