People arriving at a performance by Israeli dancers’ in Chicago on Sunday were greeted by dozens of people protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza, the Chicago Progressive Examiner reported Thursday.
Palestine solidarity activists issued a call late last year for protest against the Tel-Aviv based Batsheva Dance Company following its announcement that it would tour the US and Canada between January and March of 2009.
The call for protest was launched in accordance with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, which, in turn is modeled on the long campaign against South African Apartheid, the report said.
The Chicago chapter of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) began to organize resistance to a local Batsheva performance just as Israel ended Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. To promote the protest, grassroots communications outfit HammerHard MediaWorks came up with a slogan and graphic that tied the Batsheva to the suffering of Gaza’s residents.
According to the Chicago Progressive Examiner, people excited about the Batsheva performance for its artistic merits arrived at the Auditorium Theater on Sunday, and had to walk past a crowd of about 75 people, many of whom were wearing bandages smeared with fake blood to represent Palestinian casualties.
ISM’s Kevin Clark believes that his organization’s goal of convincing Batsheva patrons that supporting an Israeli entity made them complicit with the actions of the Israeli government was accomplished.
“We were chanting things like ‘this is no time for dancing,’ ‘you’re dancing on Gazans’ graves,'” he said, “and I could see people listening to us as they were standing in line in the theater lobby, and I saw a few – I’d say four or five – walk away without buying tickets.”
He added that others who didn’t leave were nevertheless affected. “I saw some people in tears. Obviously this was a really powerful militant action.”
Clark said the second major goal of the action was also accomplished. “We wanted to send the message to the Zionist community that there’s no safe haven. It doesn’t matter if it’s an artistic event, or athletic, or academic – you will have to deal with us and our call for justice,” he told the Chicago Progressive Examiner.
Batsheva has several more North American performances scheduled, and according to the report, similar protests are planned in Pittsburgh, Houston, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Vancouver, Canada