Monday, 19 November 2012


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:

Protest against Israeli dancers held outside Curve Leicester
Five people were moved on by police when 100 protesters demonstrated outside Curve theatre against a dance company's show.
A group called Don't Dance with Israeli Apartheid organised the gathering outside Curve to protest against the one-night appearance by the Batsheva dance company from Israel.
The protestors, many carrying banners and placards, met outside the Rutland Street theatre at 6pm on Friday.
Police used metal barriers to keep the demonstrators away from members of the audience as they arrived for the evening's show.
Officers said no arrests were made, but that five people had been ejected from the protest and asked to leave the area.
Some audience members were visibly shaken at the sight and sound of the noisy protest outside the theatre.
Veena Shaunak, 40, of Great Glen, said: "I did not expect this sort of thing.
"I have to say I find it quite intimidating. I have come here tonight with my young daughter to enjoy a dance show."
Judith Weston, from Knighton, said she was appalled by the protest.She said: "Art should be allowed to transcend politics."
Lucinda Woodward, who has friends in Leicester, had travelled down from York to see the show.
The 20-year-old said: "People do have the freedom of speech but this is too much. They are intimidating people. We have the freedom to watch a dance show if we want to."
Protestors defended their right to demonstrate against the show.Ismail Patel, of the Friends of Al-Asqa – a Palestine solidarity group, said: "We are here to make our voice heard."
Mr Patel, of Oadby, said: "Our concern with Batsheva is not the nationality of the performers – it is the fact they receive Israeli government funding and are seen as cultural ambassadors for the state of Israel."
Curve chief executive Fiona Allan said: "Batsheva are a world-renowned company and we jumped at the chance to get them to appear in Leicester.
"We knew the protest was coming and did all we could to warn our audience in advance. Many of them said we were right to let the show go on."
Jeffrey Kaufman, former president of the Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation and an Oadby and Wigston councillor, said he was disappointed to hear of the protest.
He said: "I don't know if Batsheva are funded by the Israeli government but it would be no different to the British government funding some arts group and them appearing abroad."
A police spokesman said: "The protest was very vocal but peaceful. Five people were ejected from the protest."
It was the latest in a series of protests against Batsheva, with demonstrations against performances in Brighton, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

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