Not That Will Rogers

Not so gaga for Batsheva
February 3, 2009, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Dance, Events | Tags: , , ,

Ad from "This Week in al-Quds

Ad from "This Week in al-Quds

This was posted on the blog This Week in al-Quds on January 27th (I’m just becoming aware of it today):

“Israel’s latest brutal war on Gaza killed over 1300 people and injured over 5000; with over 400 children killed and another 1500 injured. These numbers are expected to rise as more bodies are discovered beneath the ruins. Meanwhile, Israel’s ongoing and illegal siege still does not allow crucial necessities into Gaza.

Israel’s leading dance company, Batsheva, is touring the US and Canada starting January 28th through March of 2009. As cultural ambassadors and representatives of the Israeli state, Batsheva was asked to denounce the racist and brutal policies and crimes of their government against the Palestinian people, and refused.

“Writing October 26, 2008, in The Independent of London, Jenny Gilbert reports that the dance company is “funded by Israel’s government, its performers include none of Arab extraction, and it is ‘proud to be considered Israel’s leading ambassador.'”

Activists across the country have been planning and organizing a boycott of Batsheva Dance Company for several months. The most recent Israeli atrocities in Gaza have added another sense of urgency and another layer of public anger towards Israel. In 2005, hundreds of Palestinian civil society organization called on activists and institutions around the world to organize and join the movement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel. The calls for boycott include commercial, academic, and cultural aspects, and have been echoed by numerous Israeli and international artists, academics, and thinkers.
I offer this…

Are the arts the thing to boycott?  This concerns a major conflict that has political and social ramifications that I’ll probably never understand completely.  But perhaps some solice can be found in the fact that Israel’s leading ambassador is a dance company.  The arts are a place for healing and catharsis and conversation.  The language of dance should reach across political divides and the borders of countries.  For those that would criticize or demonize Israel, maybe honoring a dance company as a national treature can stand a reminder to their humanity.  For those who would sympathize with the demonstrators you can read more at Next Year in al-Quds or Palestine Think Tank.