Guardian dance critic praises Batsheva’s ‘effective nursery of talent’ AND declares Gaza ‘occupied’

Deca Dance by Batsheva Ensemble. 

I admit it. I know nothing about dance.

I don’t know how to dance, nor how to ‘fisk’ an artistic criticism of a modern dance performance.

In fact I think it’s fair to say that I know as little about the art of moving rhythmically to music, using prescribed or improvised steps and gestures, as Guardian dance critics know about the political contours of the Middle East.

Thirty-four of the ninety-two words in ‘s review of a Birmingham performance by the Israeli dance company Batsheva (Guardian, This Week in Dance, Nov. 10) dealt with the Israeli-Conflict. Or, more specifically, more than one-third of Mackrell’s piece focused on the West Bank and Gaza.

Here’s her “review”.

While I was unable to locate any evidence that Naharin made such a comment about Gaza – and, in fact, the characterization of the territory as “occupied” has been rejected by Hamas leaders themselves – the larger issue is why a Guardian correspondent specializing in artistic criticism feels compelled to examine the political beliefs of the director of an Israeli cultural institution.

It’s as if, for those on the Guardian Left, all Israelis, from all walks of life, now require a sort of moral exoneration by journalists – those routinely bowing to the cult of ‘Palestinian Solidarity’ – if they are to be admitted into the international cultural community.

The BDS movement against Israel is as marginal as it is unsuccessful, and whatever political capital it possesses is due merely to the acquiescence by the radical chic clique of political and cultural posers to its malign agenda.

3 Cheers to Batsheva

A guest post by Stephen HoffmanCampaigns Intern at the UK Zionist Federation

Once again, just over a week ago, the anti-Israel movement excelled itself in its disrespect for international culture and dialogue, whilst promoting a vision of hate. Rather then let the many concert goers watch the internationally acclaimed Israeli Batsheva Company perform, anti-Israel boycotters tried to ruin the enjoyment of everyone by protesting at the event.

It is absolutely shameful that on three separate nights pro-Palestinian demonstrators brought a halt to the performance of Batsheva Dance Troupe. They were in effect sticking two fingers up at those who had paid their money to see a world-class dance performance and putting their own discriminatory views above the enjoyment of others. Truly, the protests were awe-inspiringly selfish. Quite how it is in the interest of the Palestinian cause to act in a discriminatory way and undermine artistic expression I do not know. It was with immense courage that despite all these interruptions, Batsheva produced a world-class dance display which received much applause from the audience who were lucky enough to see it.

Batsheva’s crime is that they just happen to be Israeli. This is why the protestors who were there on behalf of the organisation ‘Don’t Dance with Israeli Apartheid’ Campaign shouted “Your tickets are covered in Palestinian blood”. This paints an incredibly inaccurate picture, where just being Israeli means that you would like to harm Palestinians. It also belittles the suffering of those who know the true horrors of apartheid and that for all its faults Israel is in no way, shape or form an Apartheid state.

This pernicious campaign group, alongside other anti-Israel groups, illustrates Israelis – and everything to do with them – as evil monsters. If the boot was on the other foot and Pro Israel protesters painted the Palestinians as the spawn of the devil, there would quite rightly be an outrage.

The idea that Israeli people are just like people over the world – and in the case of the Batsheva Dance Company extremely talented – does not seem to compute in the protestors narrow mindsets. Thus they single out Israel disproportionately and use anything related to Israel to spread their message of hate.

It is time all sane people, who believe that all nations and individuals should be treated with respect make their voices heard. This can be done by writing articles, contacting your local newspapers or working with Organisations such as The Zionist Federation, to show that people will stand up to the message of intolerance. Otherwise those engaging with cultural vandalism and undermining freedom of expression will win the day. This is something we simply cannot allow to happen.

Those involved in boycotts and protests that unfairly demonize Israel work against the interests of freedom of expression, peace and prosperity which they claim to cherish. Thanks to the Zionist Federation’s brave leafleting counter protest this was highlighted to the wider British public. However, now is not a time to rest on our laurels and we must redouble our efforts in the face of a determined and unreasonable opponent. If we do not, we allow them to win the narrative and therefore the argument.

This would be a travesty as we have the truth on our side and we should not be afraid to use it.

Israel’s Batsheva dances on in Edinburgh despite PSC hate-fest (Firsthand account, with videos)

Cross posted by the indispensable Richard Millett

Disruption during Batsheva’s Thursday performance at Edinburgh’s Playhouse Theatre.

What follows is a first hand account by our good friend Harvey of the racism, lies and abuse hurled at innocent theatre-goers by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign when Israel’s Batsheva dance group performed last Thursday, Friday and Saturday at The Playhouse Theatre in Edinburgh. Harvey also highlighted the frightening lack of security inside the theatre.

He took footage and photos of Thursday’s anti-Israel protests before, during and after Batsheva’s performance of Hora. By Saturday, when he had been identified as a supporter of Israel, he received this volley of abuse from PSC’s Scottish Chair Mick Napier for merely standing alone and filming Napier’s protest:

Napier screams at Harvey:

“Tell him to put his camera away. It’s intimidating. We know what they do with images. They use it to torture. They put Palestinians in their dungeons. And you. You think we’re afraid? You can’t call in your dirty little IDF to torture us as you do our friends. You’re a disgusting specimen.”

Disgusting specimen, eh? Such a pleasant chap that Napier. And it’s alright for Napier to have a go at members of the public out for a pleasant Thursday night’s entertainment; just don’t intimidate poor, defenceless Napier and his flock.

And one of Napier’s flock was this equally lovely chap:


Does anyone need reminding about the exhortations of Hezbollah’s Sheikh Nasrallah who has characterised Jews as the “grandsons of pigs and apes” and has said that if every Jew gathered in Israel it would save Hezbollah the effort of going after them worldwide. And go after them worldwide they have with terrorist attacks in Argentina in 1992 and 1994 and this year in Bulgaria.

Here is Harvey’s footage of PSC activists taunting the theatre-goers before Thursday’s performance with cries of “Your tickets are covered in Palestinian blood”:

Harvey reports that on entering The Playhouse the security, which consisted of a trestle table for checking bags, was “optional”. He walked in on the Thursday night without even showing his ticket, something which the PSC got wind of allowing them to run amok during the Saturday night performance and force some nine stoppages of the show.

On the Thursday, Harvey reports, there were three stoppages. Each time the Batsheva dancers came into a line at the front of the stage and stood like soldiers to attention while the lights went up to allow security to evict the PSC activists. And each time the audience responded with a spontaneous standing ovation to drown out the noise of the activists.

At the end of the performance the dancers received a proper standing ovation:

But on leaving the theatre the audience were once again confronted with crazed calls for the destruction of Israel:

It is incredible that after the disruptions during the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance at the Royal Albert Hall and Habima’s Merchant of Venice at The Globe there have been no prosecutions for aggravated trespass.

But this will always be the case without complaints by the likes of the Royal Albert Hall, The Globe and The Edinburgh Playhouse to the police.

There’s much more to come from Batsheva in the UK: Edinburgh, Festival Theatre (30, 31 Oct.), The Lowry, Salford Quays (2, 3 Nov.), Bradford, Alhambra Theatre (6, 7 Nov.), Brighton Dome, Concert Hall (9, 10 Nov.), Birmingham Hippodrome (13, 14 Nov.), Leicester, Curve Theatre (16 Nov.), London, Sadler’s Wells (19,20, 21 Nov.) and Plymouth, Theatre Royal (23, 24 Nov.)

Please come and support the wonderful dancers and help drown out the noise of the PSC’s professional disruptors.

More clips:

Here Napier says that if Batsheva “breaks their links with the state of Israel, then they may be welcome as normal citizens, but not as agents for the Israeli state.” Of course, that is impossible as Batsheva would not be able to operate without state funding, just like any other dance group. Yet another example of holding Jews to a higher standard:

And here is another anti-Israel activist explaining to the mob that the problem is simply with Batsheva’s state funding. Would he demand the arts in the UK go without state funding for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq? I think not:

In this footage an activist claims that some theatre-goers are destroying their Batsheva tickets. There is no proof. It’s just in his mind:

Finally, here is footage of a choir pleasantly singing for Israel’s security wall to come down. One woman even sings “inshallah”. Jewish babies having their throats slit by Hamas is obviously not a concern for some small-minded people: