The programme of the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival published today, April 6th, has no Israeli State-sponsored artists. Make no mistake, this represents a failure on the part of the Israeli Embassy and its Scottish supporters who announced they were working to reverse the boycott trend that has developed since vigorous protests against the Jerusalem Quartet in 2008 and the Batsheva Dance company in 2012. Cultural boycott campaigning culminated in the ejection of two Israeli State-sponsored theatre groups in 2014 and the absence of any Brand Israel artists in 2015.
It is clearly not as easy for Israel and its allies to force cultural troupes into public festivals worldwide, even with powerful forces moving on their behalf, as it is to force their armed troops into Palestinian homes, schools, orphanages and theatres.
Two Israeli acts not conscripted into Brand Israel enjoyed an unimpeded run at the 2014 EFF; the contrast between the vigorous, peaceful demonstrations that greeted any performers linked to the murderous Israeli State and the lack of any hostility towards other Israeli acts was obvious to any honest observer.
Support has grown over the years for the Palestinian call for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel by Scottish campaigners and well-known artists and this has generated a widespread public debate. Interestingly, public discussion has involved virtually no defence of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians and the anti-BDS voices have retreated into baseless accusations of censorship and violence, with cynical insinuations of anti-semitism inevitably thrown in.
The much larger, more plebeian, Edinburgh Festival Fringe (EFF) runs concurrently with the EIF; no Israeli State-sponsored acts are listed to date, but the Fringe programme is only finalised on June 8th. Since the Scottish Government called for an arms embargo against the State of Israel following the massacre of Palestinians in summer 20014, insane levels of popular racism continue to rise, expressed in public celebration of open murder of Palestinians, and a mainstream political discourse comfortable with talk of ethnic cleansing and genocide.
In this situation, SPSC calls on all to intensify efforts to support the Palestinian call for general boycott and isolation of the Apartheid State and complicit institutions. Throughout the period of the Edinburgh Festivals (EIF & EFF), from August 5 – 29, we will be organising solidarity activities in Scotland’s capital and invite anyone who is interested in participating - from Scotland, the UK and internationally - to contact SPSC:
00 44 (0)7986 804 298
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Building effective solidarity with the Palestinian people
101 Rose Street South Lane
Edinburgh EH2 3JG
00 44 (0)131 208 1948