Protest Israeli Batsheva Dance Company at the Harris Theater
Where: The Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601 (map)
When: Friday, January 27th at 6:30 PM
On Friday January 27th, the Israeli dance troupe Batsheva Dance Company will perform at Chicago’s Harris Theater. Consistently identified by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as “one of Israel’s greatest cultural ambassadors,” Batsheva’s international tour is being sponsored by the Israeli government. Batsheva is not simply a dance company, it is part a larger campaign by the Israeli government that aims to use art and culture to whitewash Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinians, and show “Israel’s prettier face.” By hosting Batsheva, The Harris Theater is not only whitewashing Israel’s apartheid and war crimes, but also violates the 2004 call by Palestinian Civil Society to engage in an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. Join us in letting the Harris Theater know that whitewashing is not welcome in Chicago!
Convened by Palestinian organizers, activists, and institutions. Supported by Students for Justice in Palestine-Chicago, US Palestinian Community Network, For The People Artists Collective, American Friends Service Committee-Chicago, Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago
The Palestinian people, through the broadest coalition of Palestinian groups, have asked artists to support a cultural boycott of Israeli cultural institutions. Palestinian artists face daily humiliation, checkpoints, and imprisonment. In response, artists and human rights activists worldwide are currently boycotting Batsheva until the dance troupe takes a stand against the Israeli government’s abuse of Palestinian human rights.
Batsheva Dance Company is backed by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which funds a “Brand Israel” campaign “to send artists overseas in order to ‘show Israel’s prettier face, so they are not thought of purely in the context of war.’” The Brand Israel campaign is entrenched in apartheid, occupation, and colonialism against the Palestinian people, as well as a blatant whitewashing of the ongoing repression against Palestinians, including the siege of 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza and the collective punishment inflicted against Palestinians on a daily basis.
While the Brand Israel campaign aims to portray Israel as a progressive hub for art and culture, Palestinian artists face enormous barriers to creating their own work as a direct result of Israel’s racist policies and violent occupation. Israeli Minister of Culture, Miri Regev, is notorious for her blatant repression of Palestinian cultural life. In the past, she has pulled funding from a Palestinian children’s theatre for creating political work. Palestinian artists also face repression on an individual level. For instance, in December of 2015, Palestinian circus artist Muhammad Abu Sakha, who works with students with disabilities, was arrested by Israel without charge. He is still being held indefinitely for unspecified “illegal activities”. And Palestinian cultural institutions like The Freedom Theatre are regular targets of Israeli raids, with equipment destroyed by the Israeli army, and many of its actors prevented from traveling to perform, and repeatedly arrested without charge.
We will not allow Batsheva to represent Israel as a progressive hub of art and culture through the Brand Israel program, while the state simultaneously suppresses Palestinian life, art, and culture. We stand with the Palestinian call for boycott until Israel adheres to standards of international law, in pursuit of freedom, justice, and equality for all Palestinians.