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Brooklyn protest to call for boycott of Israeli dance company

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On Saturday, February 4, New Yorkers will protest Batsheva Dance Company’s evening performance at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) due to their role as a cultural ambassador for the Israeli government. The protest will call for a boycott of Israeli cultural institutions like Batsheva that are complicit in Israel’s human rights violations.

Human rights advocates will celebrate Palestinian cultural resistance with a street performance of Palestinian folk dance by the Freedom Dabka Group. Other dancers will explore the themes of the Last Work, the piece Batsheva will be performing that evening. The Rude Mechanical Orchestra will provide musical accompaniment to songs and chants.

Batsheva is part of “Brand Israel,” an Israeli government initiative to use art and culture to show “Israel’s prettier face,” and divert attention from Israeli repression. Batsheva Dance Company has consistently been identified by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as one of Israel’s greatest cultural ambassadors. Their 2017 North American tour is supported by the Office of Cultural Affairs at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and sponsored by  Israeli Consulate Generals in Toronto and Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest, and the Israeli Embassy in Canada. Batsheva’s 2014  US tour was also supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Khaled Qatamesh, the Director of El-Funoun, one of the best-known Palestinian dance troupes, explained, “We are asking the international community to support the rights of Palestinians artists struggling under an apartheid regime by upholding the boycott of Israeli cultural institutions like Batsheva that are part of Brand Israel.”

In addition to the New York protest, the US Palestinian Community Network in Chicago and its allies protested Batsheva’s January 27 performance there. Human rights advocates fromVoices for Palestine and NorthWest BDS Network plan to protest Batsheva’s February 11performance in Seattle. QUIT (Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism) will protest at a Batsheva performance in San Francisco. Batsheva has been protested in New York and other cities in years past, and in 2016 musician Brian Eno told them to stop using his music due to their partnership with the Israeli government.

Twenty-one groups from cities on Batsheva’s current North American tour have signed onto a January 19  open letter to Batsheva, calling on it to cut its ties with the Israeli government and refuse to participate in Brand Israel The letter states, “If [Batsheva artistic director and choreographer] Ohad Naharin stands against the occupation, as he says he does, we invite him to show this by ending Batsheva’s complicity with it. We ask that you disavow your role as Ambassador of the State.” Batsheva did not respond to the letter.

The New York protest is organized by Adalah-NY: The NY Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, which supports the Palestinian civil society call for people of conscience to use boycott, divestment, and sanctions to pressure Israel to comply with international law. The action is part of Adalah-NY’s cultural boycott campaign, which also includes a letter to PEN America, signed by over 200 notable literary figures, calling on it to reject Israeli government sponsorship for its World Voices Festival in April.


Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel is a grassroots strategic alliance of concerned organizations and individuals in New York, formed to demand an immediate, unconditional, and permanent end to U.S. and U.S.-sponsored Israeli aggression in the Middle East.

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5 Responses

  1. JWalters on February 1, 2017, 8:35 pm

    Artists for Justice!

    I thank you, the world thanks you, and all children of the future thank you.

  2. oldgeezer on February 2, 2017, 9:31 pm

    A dance company? I thought they specialized in kicking things and chairs.

    Perhaps some soulless zionist can tell us how the charges and trials of the murderers living in that town went.

    There has been a lot of silence in the media about the mob killing that took place.

    No normalization of racists and murderers. They are living on the homes and graves of those they dispossessed. The fact they can dance is not a redeeming attribute. Acknowledgement, compensation, remorse, etc can be when done right.

    • Mooser on February 3, 2017, 12:52 pm

      “A dance company? I thought they specialized in kicking things and chairs.”

      You should see their version of Mein Eritrean from “Cabaret”.

  3. Boris on February 2, 2017, 10:40 pm

    Funny, a young woman on the picture is holding two signs.

    I guess there were just a “handful” of protesters.

    • talknic on February 3, 2017, 1:46 am

      Two different messages.

      BTW a handful is better than none and certainly better than people who condone or attempt to justify with bullsh*t Israel’s illegal activities in non-Israeli territories.

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