(Image: Nigel Parry)
In the next few weeks the Batsheva Dance Company, will perform in San Francisco and New York City. The “critically acclaimed and popularly embraced” dance troupe is in part financed by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, making the ensemble ripe for protest from BDS groups.
In New York, Adalah-NY is staging a March 7 protest at Batsheva’s Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) performance, and in San Francisco the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network is staging a demonstration at the company’s February 23 Yerba Buena Center for the Arts performance.
Last month Adalah-NY sent a letter to BAM, calling on the academy to cancel Batsheva’s forthcoming performance. The letter highlights the dance company’s role as part of “brand Israel”:
[A]n Israeli government public relations initiative which seeks to use art, including dance performances, to distract from Israel’s human rights violations. Batsheva has done nothing to distance itself from the Brand Israel campaign, nor has it ever made a public statement against the oppression of the Palestinian people.
The letter goes on to say the dance company “whiteswashes” human rights abuses against the Palestinian people:
Brand Israel initiatives such as Batsheva’s tour are designed to distract from the facts, including: Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands, the longest in history; Israel’s 223 Jewish-only settlements and ‘outposts’ built on Palestinian land in violation of international law; Israel’s ‘Apartheid’ wall in the West Bank that further appropriates Palestinian land, also in violation of international law according to the International Court of Justice; Israel’s demolition of over 24,000 Palestinian homes since 1967; and Israel’s 2009 invasion of Gaza, which killed over 1400 Palestinians, prompting allegations of war crimes by a United Nations Fact Finding Mission. In addition, Israel has enacted over 20 laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel and enshrine their status as second-class citizens.
Mock Batsheva brochure (Image: Nigel Parry)
Reverse of mock Batsheva brochure. (Image: Nigel Parry)
Protests against the dance company are not new for the Palestine solidarity community. In 2009 Nigel Parry designed a mock brochure for the group, and signs for the restroom where attendees were asked to “wash the blood off your hands” after viewing the performance.
The Israeli dance company will tour in the North America for five weeks this spring.