Boycott Israeli Dance Company on US/Canada Tour

Saturday, January 24, 2009

By Fayyad

Call for Action: 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 their country, Batsheva was asked to denounce the racist and brutal policies and crimes of their government against the Palestinian people, and refused.

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 organizations 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.

Join this effort and protest the Batsheva performance in your town:
(schedule and other resources below)

1) Contact the sponsors and hosts of the event, and demand they cancel and/or end their sponsorship of the event.

2) Contact the media in your town and inform them of your intention to boycott and protest the performance

3) Write op-ed and letters to the editor to explain your reasons for the boycott call.

4) Turn out at the event, protest and picket, and call for people to boycott the performance, bring your signs and photos from the attack on Gaza.

And don”t forget to forward this call to your contacts in cities on the tour.

Reasons for Boycott and Talking Points:

– Boycotts were instrumental to ending South African apartheid. Such international pressure is needed to bring an end to the Israeli occupation.

– Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinians violates international laws and their inalienable rights to self-determination and sovereignty.

– Artists and academics who speak up against Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinians are not a target for boycott

– Boycott is not meant to punish or isolate artists; it is a conditional measure that is intended to push the Israeli government to make peace by ending the occupation.

– Artists are cultural ambassadors of a country, and often employed by their government to promote the country.

– Boycott sends a message to the Israeli public and the government, strengthening the hand of those working for peace among them.

– Over 540 Israeli professors and public intellectuals signed a letter calling for a boycott of Israel.

– Cultural and Academic boycotts have been called for by Palestinian civil society, and solidarity groups around the world, including South Africa

– Since Israel is a democracy, it should actually respond to international opprobrium.

– Batsheva explicitly refused to distance itself from Israel”s military occupation and racist policies.

– Batsheva is a Jewish-only dance company, despite the fact that 1 in 5 Israelis are not Jewish.

– Batsheva’s choreographer and artistic director, Ohad Naharin, served in the Israeli military, the same forces that just killed nearly 1000 civilians in Gaza.

– Several dancers in the company are in the army reserves; reserve units conducted this month’s invasion of Gaza.

– No Batsheva dancer has challenged or objected to military duty, despite the growing movement of conscientious objectors in Israel.

Schedule (

January 28 – Houston, TX
January 30-31 – Purchase, NY
February 2 – Princeton, NJ
February 3 -, Philadelphia, PA
February 5 – Pittsburgh, PA
February 7,8- Chicago, IL
February 10 – Columbus, OH
February 12 – Ottawa, ON
February 14 – Ann Arbor, MI
February 15 – Ann Arbor, M
February 18 – Minneapolis, MN
February 20,21- Vancouver, BC
February 24 – Santa Barbara, CA
February 26 – La Jolla, CA
February 28 – Los Angeles, CA
March – Brooklyn, NY

Letter Sent to Batsheva from Pittsburgh Groups:

To: Naomi Fortis- General Manager
Cc: Dance Company Members,
Batsheva Dance Company,
6 Yechieli Street, Tel Aviv 65149

Re: Your Scheduled Performance in Pittsburgh, PA

It is in somber spirits that we, residents of Pittsburgh, receive news of your planned visit to our city. Your government has just commenced a brutal, three-week attack on the besieged, starved populations of Gaza, during which more that 1300 Palestinians were murdered, including at least 419 children and 108 women. In addition, 5300 Palestinians have been injured, 4,000 homes, schools, hospitals, and shelters have been destroyed and more than 20,000 others were severely damaged.

Artists are often the conscience of their communities. We submit to you, as artists conscious of the suffering caused in besieged Gaza and the occupied West Bank, to voice your unequivocal opposition and denunciation of the Israeli government”s policies toward Palestinians, from brutal occupation, to Apartheid-like policies against non-Jewish citizens; policies that have inflicted more than sixty years of suffering, dispossession, and discrimination on the Palestinian population and resulted in deaths and casualties among Israeli civilians as well.

It is our hope that we receive your prompt response that makes clear a position you take against the policies of your government, at which point you will be most welcome in our city. However, it is our intention to call upon our community to boycott and protest your presence, should you remain silent and complacent of your government”s policies, and continue to whitewash and provide cover for your government”s crimes by serving as cultural ambassadors.

As citizens of the United States, the members of our coalition denounce similarly devastating military actions perpetrated by our government, and we simply ask you to do the same.

In commitment to bringing lasting peace and decency to all peoples,
(Signed, multiple Pittsburgh groups)

PRESS RELEASE: Groups Launch Campaign To Boycott Israeli Dance Troupe Performing in Pittsburgh

Several Pittsburgh organizations have launched a campaign to boycott the February 5th performance of the leading Israeli dance company, Batsheva.

The organizations, including Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee, Students for Justice in Palestine, Code Pink, Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, Anti-War Coalition, among others, contacted the host, Benedum Center, and event sponsors asking they cancel the event and end their sponsorship.

The local coalition, which had earlier approached Batsheva with a letter demanding that the dance company denounce the policies of the Israeli government, has received no response and plans to protest and picket the event should it proceed as scheduled.

A movement of divestment and boycott (economic, academic, and cultural) against Israel modeled after the movement against apartheid South Africa has been building in the US and Europe for over eight years. In July 2005, dozens of Palestinian civil society organizations issued a call in support of a wider Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement (, until Israel ends its racist and brutal policies of discrimination and military subjugation against the Palestinian people.

Calls for divestment and boycott have intensified in recent weeks in the wake of Israel”s attack on Gaza, with prominent journalists and scholars publishing articles calling for BDS. In a letter published in the Daily Star on January 12th, more than 900 academics, mainly US-based, called for the apartheid remedy to be applied to Israel ( This call followed a similar one signed by more than 300 UK-based academics, artists, and cultural icons (

Israel”s attack on Gaza, during which it shut out journalists from entering the strip, left more than 1300 people dead, a third of whom are children, nearly 5600 injured, and more than 20,000 homes destroyed or severely damaged. So far Israel has prevented relief and aid workers from entering Gaza, severely restricting the entry of food and medicine.

Batsheva”s artistic director, Ohad Naharin, is a veteran of the Israeli military, and several members of the dance company are members of the army reserve. Reserve units conducted this month”s invasion of the Gaza strip.

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