Israel boycotters turn attention to Edinburgh culture meeting

By Jennifer Lipman, August 10, 2012

Anti-Israel campaigners have revealed plans to disrupt a meeting of international politicians due to discuss culture in Edinburgh this week.

The first International Culture Summit will be held in the Scottish capital on Monday and Tuesday, bringing together culture ministers from Olympic nation as well as scores of other figures from the arts world.

The event, which has been arranged to coincide with the annual Edinburgh Festival, has been organised by the Scottish and UK governments, the Festival and the British Council.

But to highlight their opposition to the invitation to an Israeli performance group to appear at the Edinburgh International Festival, an umbrella group of pro-boycott activists called "Don't Dance with Israeli Apartheid" have asked supporters to be present.

Israel's acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company is due to perform three shows at the event between August 30 and September 1, as part of its UK tour. Despite a letter from the boycotters, backed by MP Jeremy Corbyn, journalist John Pilger and Yvonne Ridley, the festival's directors have refused to cancel the appearances.

Activists are now spreading word to supporters to join a stall and hand out flyers targeting Israel outside of the Scottish Parliament, where the summit is taking place.

According to the social media accounts of the group "no 2 brand Israel", "Don't Dance with Israeli Apartheid presents visuals, audio, video, singing, and readings on 'Israel's Culture of Apartheid, Victimhood, Mass Murder, Illegality, Impunity, Racism, Ethnic Cleansing, Colonialism and more'."

The activists also plan to protest outside the venue when Batsheva performs in Edinburgh, and are in the process of organising "demonstrations at every Batsheva performance during their 8-city UK tour".

Israel's Minister of Sports and Culture, Limor Livnat, is due to return to the UK for the Batsheva performances and the opening of the Paralympic Games.

Last updated: 2:53pm, August 10 2012