Friday 9 November
There have been four disruptions of the Batsheva Dance Ensemble’s performance at Brighton Dome tonight. Over 70 people protested against the dance performance outside the venue while several people purchased tickets and protested inside the performance.
Soon after the performance began shouts of ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘End the occupation’ rang out inside the Dome. The performance was repeatedly disrupted by a total of four pairs of demonstrators.
The demonstrators are responding to a call from the people of Palestine for a campaign of ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ similar to the boycott campaign waged against apartheid South Africa.
The demonstration included many Jewish people who oppose Israel’s policies.
The demonstrators informed attenders at the performance that Israel’s Batsheva dance company is financed by the Israeli state, invested in by Israeli arms companies and the racist Jewish National Fund which works openly to dispossess Palestinians and replace them with Jewish immigrants.
One of this company’s two planned performances in Brighton has been cancelled, and Friday’s performance was subject to special security arrangements.
Andrew Comben, the Dome Director, has appealed to ‘artistic freedom’ to justify the Batsheva appearance, but the demonstrators argue this is an empty defence in the light of the oppression and war crimes faced by the Palestinians. The apartheid wall, checkpoints and military attacks leave them no freedom to perform and travel as Israeli companies do.
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, has stated that ‘Constituents have raised concerns with me about forthcoming performances by the dance group Batsheva and I’ve passed those on to Brighton Dome – asking whether they took the cultural boycott into consideration when making decisions about events’.
The Brighton demonstration is one of a series taking place at Batsheva performances around the country – including Edinburgh, Bradford, Salford, Leicester, London and Plymouth – and across Europe including the performance in Rome on 8 November. These local demonstrations are part of a wider and growing ‘Don’t Dance with Israeli Apartheid’ campaign which faced Batsheva during its North American tour earlier this year, and will surely face it during its future tours.