Protest against Israeli dance company L-E-V, 9-12 August

Edinburgh Action for Palestine is calling for protests outside the Kings Theatre during the performances of Israeli dance company L-E-V, part of the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF). Thursday 9 August – Sunday 12 August, from 7pm until 8pm each evening.

We have previously outlined support and sponsorship which L-E-V performances have received from Israeli embassies and consulates around the world – https://edinburghaction4palestine.org/2018/07/12/stop-israels-cultural-whitewash-of-apartheid/

By accepting this support L-E-V is complicit in Israel’s use of culture to normalise perception of the state of Israel – a state which is in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, in violation of numerous UN resolutions and stands accused of serious human rights abuses by groups including Amnesty International.

Consequently we protest at the presence of L-E-V at the festival.

Other high profile Israeli citizens have recently chosen to distance themselves from the actions of the Israeli state. We met with the director of EIF, Fergus Linehan, and suggested that L-E-V might similarly wish to distance themselves, offering to meet the company. They have declined to respond.

In April 2018, actress Natalie Portman, a US and Israeli citizen, was awarded the Genesis Prize but refused to attend the ceremony, stating:

“I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech at the ceremony. ….

But the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values.”

As reported in the Guardian newspaper on 20 April 2018 (https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/apr/20/natalie-portman-israel-genesis-prize), Portman’s representative said: “[R]ecent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her and she does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel” and that “she cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony”.

Similarly, Daniel Barenboim, a conductor & musician who holds Israeli citizenship, recently wrote an Op-ed in the Guardian newspaper on 23 July, 2018, distancing himself from the current Israeli regime. (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/23/israel-racist-new-law-ashamed-apartheid-daniel-barenboim)

He concluded his piece by saying –

Yet nothing has really changed since 2004. Instead, we have a law that confirms the Arab population as second-class citizens. It follows that this is a very clear form of apartheid. I don’t think the Jewish people lived for 20 centuries, mostly through persecution and enduring endless cruelties, in order to become the oppressors, inflicting cruelty on others. This new law does exactly that. Therefore, I am ashamed of being an Israeli today.”

Letter to Linehan 28 June 2018

Dear Mr Linehan

Congratulations on assembling another exciting package for the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF).  I would like on behalf of Edinburgh Action for Palestine to make enquiries about the L-E-V Dance Company from Israel.

In 2005 Palestinian civil society called on “international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.” They also invited “conscientious Israelis to support this call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.”

They called for these non-violent measures to be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law.

Several criteria have been developed for identifying artistic groups and events that should be boycotted (https://bdsmovement.net/pacbi/cultural-boycott-guidelines).  At least two of these criteria are relevant to L-E-V’s participation in EIF 2018.  I quote these criteria below:

As a general overriding rule, Israeli cultural institutions, unless proven otherwise, are complicit in maintaining the Israeli occupation and denial of basic Palestinian rights, whether through their silence or actual involvement in justifying, whitewashing or otherwise deliberately diverting attention from Israel’s violations of international law and human rights.

 A cultural EVENT/ACTIVITY is boycottable if it is partially or fully sponsored by an official Israeli body or a complicit institution.

Can EIF provide any instance of L-E-V or its directors speaking out against Israel’s violations of international law?  Can EIF assert that L-E-V has no sponsorship, financial or otherwise, from any official Israeli body?

I hope that, given Israel’s history of human rights abuses against Palestinians, the EIF will have taken the trouble to get this information before booking the company for this year’s festival and that you will therefore be able readily to answer these questions.

Edinburgh Action for Palestine currently understands that L-E-V are boycottable and will continue to do so, unless you can respond otherwise.

Jan Benvie

Response to Linehan 21 July 2018

Dear Mr Linehan

Thank you for your reply to our email about the L-E-V dance company.

The issue we raised about this dance company is not about the ‘nationality, country of residence or ethnic, religious or cultural  background’ of the dancers, the issue is about sponsorship and support from a state which is in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, in violation of numerous UN resolutions and stands accused of serious human rights abuses by groups including Amnesty International.

Thank you for assuring us that the L-E-V performances in Edinburgh will not receive funding from the Israeli government, however our research shows that the company has received support and sponsorship from the Israeli government over a number of years.

A few examples include:

L-E-V has clearly been happy to accept support and sponsorship over the years from the Israeli state. We believe that under the boycott criteria to which we referred in our previous correspondence, namely that they are ‘complicit in maintaining the Israeli occupation and denial of basic Palestinian rights, … through their silence or … whitewashing or otherwise deliberately diverting attention from Israel’s violations of international law and human rights.’ L-E-V should be boycotted.

We would be happy to meet to discuss this or future Festival events.

Yours sincerely

 

Jan Benvie

 

Stop Israel’s cultural whitewash of Apartheid

State-sponsored Israeli dance company, L-E-V, is performing at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival (EIF).

Write to Fergus Linehan, Director of Edinburgh International Festival, EIF, The Hub, 348-350 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NE; OR email director@eif.co.uk.  Ask that EIF cancel the L-E-V performance because of its links to the Israeli state.

EA4P wrote to Linehan (letter here) and received this reply.  Our response to the reply is here.

The Israeli state stands accused by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the UN and other bodies of war crimes.
The festival director, Fergus Linehan, has declined to respond to Edinburgh Action for Palestine’s query about Israeli state sponsorship for this event, but we know that L-E-V’s performances are promoted by Israel’s embassies around the world (see the numerous links below), including their performance this month in London.

From the Israeli Embassy’s Cultural Facebook page   CultureIL

9 July at 11:08 · 

We are very excited for #Israeli dance company, L-E-V’s ‘Love Chapter 2’. Headed up by #SharonEyal Sadler’s Wells newest Associate Artist and #GaiBehar

13th & 14th July

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity. .BDS demands are simple, comprehensive and clear:

  • End the Occupation & dismantle the Wall
  • Full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel
  • Right of return for Palestinian refugees

Several criteria have been developed for identifying artistic groups and events that should be boycotted (https://bdsmovement.net/pacbi/cultural-boycott-guidelines).  At least two of these criteria are relevant to L-E-V’s participation in EIF 2018:

As a general overriding rule, Israeli cultural institutions, unless proven otherwise, are complicit in maintaining the Israeli occupation and denial of basic Palestinian rights, whether through their silence or actual involvement in justifying, whitewashing or otherwise deliberately diverting attention from Israel’s violations of international law and human rights.

A cultural EVENT/ACTIVITY is boycottable if it is partially or fully sponsored by an official Israeli body or a complicit institution.

Boycott is a traditional, peaceful form of protest. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jnr & Nelson Mandela all used boycotts.

Cancellation of the performances would provide great encouragement to Palestinians suffering Israeli oppresion. If however the event goes ahead join us to protest outside the Kings Theatre, Edinburgh, 9-12 August.   For time and details of each evening’s protest, see our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/EdinburghAction4Palestine/or email to join our mailing list by emailing us at EdinburghAction4Palestine@gmail.com.

Links indicating Israeli government support and sponsorship of L-E-V:

https://nac-cna.ca/en/event/15920
http://embassies.gov.il/marseille/NewsAndEvents/Pages/Sharon-Eyal-Gai-Behar.aspx
http://embassies.gov.il/san-francisco/calendar-of-events/Pages/L-E-V-OCD-Love-Seattle.aspx
https://www.whitebird.org/event/l-e-v-israel/
https://nac-cna.ca/en/media/newsrelease/17848
https://twitter.com/IsraelinSG/status/973827975941709824
https://twitter.com/evelyncoster/status/976058731120209920

 

Edinburgh supports Great March of Return

Taking our inspiration from Palestinians who resist the brutal Israeli occupation,
Edinburgh Action for Palestine organised a march and vigil on June 5, 2018.
A large crowd gathered in Edinburgh to mark 51 years of occupation (West Bank, E
Jerusalem, Gaza and Golan), and to commemorate the unarmed Palestinian
protestors killed in Gaza killed by the Israeli military during the current Great March of
Return.
The Great March of Return protests are organised by grassroots Palestinian groups
in Gaza. They are demanding the right of return for Palestinian refugees (and their
descendants) who were forced to flee their homes when Israel was created in 1948.
The protestors are also calling for the end of Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

demo
The Edinburgh protest began with a march from Princes Street to the Royal Mile
where Protest in Harmony led the crowd in the singing of protest songs outside St
Giles Cathedral.

18-06-05 vigil for Gaza Protest in Harmony

The evening concluded with a short vigil where the names of the
120 unarmed protestors killed in Gaza were read out

18-06-05 vigil for Gaza Reading the names (2)18-06-05 vigil for Gaza Reading the names (1)
As we stand in solidarity with Palestinians, as we mourn their murders, it is important
to remember that they are not helpless victims but active resisters.

THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT: CHALLENGING SLOGANS THROUGH CRITICAL REFRAMING

The Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD) is a non-violent, direct-action group dedicated to ending the Israeli Occupation and achieving a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians (see https://icahd.org).  They have a useful publication that reframes some of the arguments pro Israel people put forward.  The latest version is online here https://icahd.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/1/2017/07/CounterRhetoric-2016-edition.pdf.

Statement from Palestine Solidarity Campaign on Stand Up to Racism march in Glasgow on 17 March

Earlier this week, PSC wrote to and held direct conversations with Stand Up to Racism (SUTR) about our concerns at the likely participation of the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland in the SUTR Glasgow march this Saturday. Yesterday we received a formal response. Both PSC’s letter and the SUTR response can be read below.

PSC agrees with all of the sentiments contained within the SUTR Scottish steering committee statement. However, it does not address the concerns we raised about the participation of the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland in the Glasgow march.  It is our view – based on the Confederation’s  policies,  beliefs  and behaviours, as set out in our letter, that their participation will necessarily  undermine the core message of the march and the important work that SUTR does. We would hope, even at this stage, that SUTR would make a clearer statement to address the concerns that have been raised. However, in the absence of any reassurances that Palestinians and their friends and supporters will not face a hostile environment if they attend the march, regrettably we cannot advise our members in Scotland to participate in an event whose core aims we very much support.

We remain committed to an ongoing discussion with SUTR to resolve these issues so that we can work together on shared policies in combatting racism, islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the longer term.

Letter from PSC :

We wanted to follow up our telephone conversations with a written note about our concerns over the presence of the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland on the SUTR Glasgow march on Saturday.

We are aware that a range of groups in Scotland including Scottish Friends of Palestine and SNP Friends of Palestine have raised their worries about the participation of the Confederation. These include the fact that this places Palestinians – including a group of Palestinian firefighters currently being trained by the FBU – in a hostile environment on a march they had intended to a join.

Whilst we understand that SUTR want to build a broad coalition of partners wishing to fight racism – including anti-Semitism, a brief visit to the Facebook page of the Confederation reveals them as propagators of the most offensive anti-Palestinian narratives. These include denying the Palestinian Nakba and posting material stating that no Palestinian villages and towns were destroyed prior to and after the establishment of the state of Israel; denying the status of Palestinian refugees and posting an article from the CEO of AIPAC which states that any Palestinian state is incompatible with Israel’s security. The Confederation is also part of a campaign to have student activism on UK campuses under the banner of ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ closed down. The Confederation has links with groups in the UK who – alongside Britain First and the EDL – have attempted to disrupt PSC marches and meetings.

We understand that the Confederation has framed its desire to attend within the context of an opposition to anti Semitism and that there is a concern that to indicate that their presence is not welcome will leave organisers open to the charge of anti-Semitism.

There are many definitions of racism, but to promote prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against people of a different race, ethnicity or culture, as the Confederation does, must surely give you as organisers cause for concern.

We would hope that there could be a clear statement that all of those organisations participating in a SUTR march need to stand on a platform of opposition  to all forms of racism – which includes resistance to or, at the very least,  not supporting the policies and laws of any state that are clearly racist. As organisers, we would hope that you would agree that anyone who cannot sign up to these basic principles would not be welcome and that behaviour designed to intimidate other participants will not be tolerated.

We would hope it is not too late for such a statement to be issued. Notwithstanding this, after the events of this weekend, we would wish – as the PSC – to have a more detailed conversation with SUTR about the long term strategy to address these issues.

Ben Jamal, PSC Director, and Hugh lanning, PSC Chair.

SUTR Response

Dear Ben and Hugh,

For your information the SUTR Scottish Steering Committee unanimously agreed the following statement:

Stand up to Racism is a broad coalition comprising many civic organisations, refugee and migrant communities, as well as trade unions, political organisations and individuals. The key criteria are opposition to the rising tide of racism, Islamophobia, Antisemitism and the scapegoating of refugees and migrants. If you support these principles please come and join us on M17.

Signatories: Scottish Trades Union Congress, Unison Scotland, Unite the Union Scotland, Educational Institute of Scotland, University and College Union Scotland, Scottish Labour Party, Church of Scotland, Justice and Peace Scotland, Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, Scottish Refugee Council, Muslim Council of Scotland, Scottish Faiths Action For Refugees, Show Racism The Red Card, City of Edinburgh Unison, Glasgow City Unison, Unison South Lanarkshire, Edinburgh College EIS-Fela, Unite Scottish Housing Associations branch, Unite NHS Ayrshire & Arran, Unite GPM and IT Branch, Unite Glasgow retired members, MEND, Afghan Human Rights Foundation, Social Work Action Network, The People’s Assembly Scotland, Govanhill Baths Community Trust, Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, Govanhill Against Racism, Maryhill Integration Network, Perth Against Racism, Women for Independence Glasgow, Scottish Jews For A Just Peace, PCS Scotland, RMT Scotland, FBU Scotland, Interfaith Glasgow.

We urge the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to join us.

Jeff Halper: WHERE ARE WE HEADED IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE?

On 27 February 2018, Jeff Halper (Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – ICAHD) delivered an inspiring lecture, followed by a question/answer session in Edinburgh, hosted by the Scottish Palestinian Forum (http://www.scottishpalestinianforum.org.uk/) and Edinburgh Action 4 Palestine (https://edinburghaction4palestine.org/) Continue reading Jeff Halper: WHERE ARE WE HEADED IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE?