Unbelievably, in view of Israel’s record on human rights and the ongoing slaughter of innocents in Gaza, the management of the Underbelly venue at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival somehow thought it a good idea to book and then not cancel a show sponsored by the Israeli Government. Naivety or a flagrant disregard for human rights?
Incubator Theatre, which receives funding from the Israeli Government, was staging ‘The City (A Hip Hop Opera)’ but we, a diverse group of human rights activists brought together by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others, were determined not to let what is effectively a display of solidarity with the state of Israel and its heinous crimes continue. We picketed the main entrance at the back, refusing to budge when the police and the security staff urged us to move. We picketed the front too, when we realised they were letting people in there. We stayed in place for several hours, bracketing the show’s performance.
We were acting in accord with the wishes of Palestinian performing arts organisations, who say:
We particularly call upon our fellow artists and cultural organizations to condemn the current aggressions against Gaza and the occupation of Palestine through petitions, protests and statements. Further to that, we urge you to act by supporting the Palestinian cultural and academic boycott of Israel (PACBI), thereby refusing to be complicit in the ongoing occupation and apartheid.
Your tickets are covered in Palestinian blood!
We did not physically bar people from entering, but they had to run a gauntlet of our leaflets and chants, not least among which, ‘Your tickets are covered in Palestinian blood!’
We probably deterred many from attending, and the noise we made would also have damaged the experience of audiences at other Underbelly venues and disturbed office-workers and residents in the area. We feel that the Israeli Government, the Incubator Theatre Company, and the management of the Underbelly must take responsibility for this. What did they expect?
Later that day we learnt that the show would not proceed at that venue. However, according to the Edinburgh Evening News, “Underbelly and Incubator Theatre will work to identify other suitable venues for the show to perform at in Edinburgh.”
Underbelly staff urged to get up petition against management’s decision to find other venue for show
What kind of warped mentality would consider continuing with this show, now that it should be clear that it amounts to support for mass murder? We shall, of course, protest again if another venue is found, and I would personally urge the employees of Underbelly to get up a petition against the management’s decision. You are, in my personal view, complicit in crimes against humanity if you do nothing.
Boycott the Underbelly, de facto supporter of crimes against humanity
I also urge people to boycott all Underbelly shows until the Israelis are definitively sent packing. Please, in the name of humanity. On the other hand, if they cancel the show completely, I shall make a point of attending shows there.
In case you think Israel lets Palestinian artists attend international events:
Palestinian Artist Khaled Jarrar Can’t Get to New York’s New Museum Show.