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Flash View, 7-19: Boycott Israeli Dance Troupes
They are Complicit

A Letter from Omar Barghouti
Copyright 2006 Omar Barghouti

I read your article in the Dance Insider with interest. As to your question regarding whether Israeli dance companies should be boycotted "until Israel stops bombing Lebanon," my answer is yes, but for far longer, until Israel fully abides by international law and fundamental human rights, ending its occupation of Palestinian land, recognizing the right of Palestinian refugees to return and ending its system of racial discrimination against Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel.

I am a choreographer with Palestine's leading dance company, El-Funoun. We performed last year at Lincoln Center to a fully packed house. As a group that was established in 1979, at the height of the occupation, and that was victimized in more ways than can be mentioned in this letter in its 27 years of existence, we have endorsed the Call for Boycott issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

Last year, I wrote my own arguments for an institutional cultural boycott of Israel in Open Democracy, at: http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-debate_97/morality_2853.jsp.

As you can see from both sources, the logic behind our call for boycotting Israeli dance companies stems from their complicity in perpetuating the occupation. As you may know, no Israeli cultural institution, including all dance companies, has ever come out publicly condemning the illegal Israeli occupation or its daily crimes against Palestinian citizens. Besides, almost all Israelis (save ultra-Orthodox sectors), including Israeli dance artists, serve in the Israeli reserve army, thereby participating directly in committing crimes against Palestinians or at the very least witnessing in silence as those crimes are committed. This raises the level of collusion.

Finally, the successful boycott against apartheid South Africa is the true inspiration for Palestinian boycott advocates. Did Lincoln Center invite South African dance companies during the boycott in the second half of the 1980s? If not, why the double-standards now vs. Israel?

Israel should be treated like any other violator of human rights. We believe that boycott is the most morally and politically sound, non-violent form of resistance that has a chance to bring about Israel's compliance with international law and that can give us hope that one day we can ALL coexist in justice, peace and unmitigated equality.

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