Boycott Israel's Batsheva Dance Troupe

Batsheva-protest-postera4

A protest against the Israeli Batsheva Dance Company has been organised by Palestinian rights groups in Wellington on Saturday 22 February outside the St James Theatre in Courtenay Place from 7.30pm.

Saturday February 22 7:30pm
St James Theatre 77–87 Courtenay Place

This year’s NZ Festival includes four performances by the Israeli Batsheva dance company.

Batsheva is an integral part of Israel’s Brand Israel public relations campaign. The dance company receives funding from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has described Batsheva as ‘the best known global ambassador of Israeli culture’.

Batsheva’s performance at NZ Festival is sponsored by the Embassy of Israel in New Zealand. One of the embassy’s roles is to enhance Israel’s public image in New Zealand by sponsoring Israeli cultural events such as this one. This is part of a deliberate strategy of using arts and culture to whitewash over Israel’s human rights abuses and violations of international law.

We will be outside Batsheva’s performance to protest Batsheva’s role in whitewashing Israeli apartheid. This is part of the global campaign of BDS (boycott, divestments, and sanctions) initiated by Palestinian civil society.

Auckland: there’s transportation organised from Auckland to Wellington for the action. Leaving 6am, Saturday February 22, from the Unite Union office, 6A Western Springs Road, Morningside. Returning Sunday February 23. Accommodation is organised for Saturday night. Cost is $40 per passenger. Please email John at johnminto@orcon.net.nz to reserve a place.

Media Release:

Palestinian solidarity groups calls on government to withhold visas for Israeli Dance troupe

A wide range of Palestinian solidarity groups active in New Zealand (see end of media release for groups) have called on the government to withhold New Zealand visas from the Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company which is scheduled to perform in the New Zealand Festival of the Arts in Wellington next month.

We wrote to Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse last November making this request and received a non-committal response. We followed up with a letter to Foreign Minister Murray McCully on 15 January this year but have yet to receive a reply. (the letter to Mr McCully is attached at the end of this media release.

We pointed out the Batsheva Dance Company is part of the Israeli propaganda effort to deflect criticism of its appalling policies towards Palestinians.

The Batsheva troupe is largely funded by the Israeli Ministry of Culture & Sport, the City of Tel Aviv and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs who praise the troupe as “ambassadors of Israeli culture”. The troupe's participation in the NZ Arts Festival is also partially sponsored by the Israeli Embassy in Wellington.

Israel is subject to an international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign because of its unashamedly racist treatment of its Arab-Israeli citizens; the construction of illegal Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land; its brutal military occupation of the West Bank Palestinian territory and its inhuman blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The BDS campaign was called for launched in 2005 by some 260 Palestinian civil society organisations as the best way for the international community to support the Palestinian struggle for justice and human rights and the organisations writing to you here are working in support of this campaign.

For the same reasons New Zealanders called for the end to rugby links with apartheid South Africa we are calling for the cutting of ties with apartheid Israel.

We hope the government will respond because last year, by overwhelming popular vote, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed “2014 the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People”. If the government wants to gain the respect of other countries in its bid for a seat on the UN Security Council then cancelling visas for this troupe as a way of providing practical solidarity to the Palestinian struggle would be a big help.

The National government of the 1980s was on the wrong side of history in the struggle against apartheid South Africa. This issue is an opportunity get on the right side of history with the Palestinian struggle.

We have also written to the festival organisers called for Batsheva’s participation in the New Zealand Festival of the Arts to be cancelled and have requested a meeting to discuss the issue.

John Minto
0220850161
johnminto

On behalf of
New Zealand Palestine Solidarity Network
Palestine Human Rights Campaign
Global Peace and Justice Auckland
Kia Ora Gaza
BDS Wellington
Canterbury for Justice in Palestine
Auckland University Students for Justice in Palestine

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