Tamar-kali with her band and special guest Sonny Singh at "Palestine Calling"
Brooklyn vocalist and composer Tamar-kali with her band and special guest Sonny Singh at our "Palestine Calling" event on November 14th, 2015.

Cultural Boycott

Cultural boycott is one element of the international boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign (BDS) called for by Palestinians and supported by people of conscience around the world.

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Press Coverage

Mondoweiss

Abstract: 

As the Batsheva Dance Company winds its way across North America, the media has clamored to laud the show on its artistic merits, glossing over the political implications of the group’s visit. Articles in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune offer timid critiques of the show but fail to mention politics altogether.

But the irony of showcasing uninhibited movement on stage as a product of a country where the every movement of the occupied Palestinians is restricted was not lost on the hundred or so protestors outside BAM on opening night of “Last Work.”

Press Coverage

Newsweek

Abstract: 

The yelling and cheering could be heard more than a block away from the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Saturday evening. For an hour and a half before Batsheva Dance Company performed at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House, protesters gathered in support of a cultural boycott of Israel, part of the larger Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against the country. The protesters’ signs, held high around a Palestinian flag waving in the frigid wind, featured slogans like “Don’t dance around apartheid” and “Batsheva proud ambassador of racism.”

Press Release

February 5, Brooklyn, NY – On Saturday evening, February 4, about 100 New Yorkers braved an icy wind to protest the appearance of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company, and to do some dancing themselves, as part of a North American campaign for a boycott of the group’s tour.

Batsheva is being boycotted by advocates for Palestinian rights due to its role as what Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls one of Israel's greatest cultural ambassadors. Batsheva’s North American tour is supported by the Ministry. The dance company is part of the Israeli government’s “Brand Israel” initiative that uses art and culture to “show Israel’s prettier face” and divert attention from Israeli repression.

The street dancing attracted attention from ticket-holders and passersby. It featured a brass band, Palestinian dabka dancers, and a dance parody based on the current repertoire of Batsheva. The radical marching band the Rude Mechanical Orchestra and the Freedom Dabka Group brought arts out of the theater and into the wintry street, infusing bodily movement with a political movement sensibility.

A small group of protesters from the anti-Arab hate group the Jewish Defense League (JDL) protested in support of Batsheva, shouting “there’s no such thing as Palestine,” "settlements will rise," "terrorist Arab monkeys,” and "Isis wants you” at those who came to support Palestinian rights. 

Document

We welcome any organizations in cities where Batsheva will be performing to endorse this letter. Please contact us.

To the Batsheva Dance Company:

We are writing as activists and artists from the North American cities you are visiting on your current tour. Palestinian civil society has issued a call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel, modeled on the call for the boycott of apartheid South Africa. Respecting that call, we urge you to take a stand against the Israeli government’s violations of Palestinian rights. Until you do so, we will not welcome you in our cities and we will support a boycott of your performances due to your collaboration with the Israeli state.

Web Action

The PEN American Center accepted funding from the government of Israel for its 2016 World Voices Festival.

We believe it is wrong for PEN American Center to accept such funding when PEN International has criticized the Israeli government for "the killings and the reported deliberate targeting of certain journalists, media organizations, and their infrastructures” and “the practice of administrative detention against journalists and other writers."

PEN American Center is an institution with the stated aim of defending writers' freedom of expression.

Palestinian civil society has called on people of conscience around the world to engage in a peaceful campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), focusing – not on individuals – but on the Israeli government and complicit companies and institutions.

OVER 200 WRITERS have already called on PEN American Center to reject cultural sponsorship from the Israeli government, asserting that such partnership amounts to a tacit endorsement of Israel’s systematic violations of international law & human rights.

Today, we continue that call.

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