Is it reasonable to interrupt a dance performance, (Batsheva, at the Edinburgh Festival) to protest against Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory. That sentence, btw, has as many assumptions built into it as did Ms Kemp’s piece in the Observer (Sunday 2nd). So, let me first state that, yes, I believe Israel to be an occupying power; that their occupation is contrary to international law; and that the Palestinians are a people and have (had) a territory.
Ms Kemp regards the protesters who interrupted the performance as bigoted although she fails to say why. If support for Palestine equates to racism then there is little hope for Palestinians. Visitors to the oPT may be bemused that the dancers were ‘unable to perform in peace’. Palestinians have lived in a state of ‘no peace’ for over 60 years. Are we to assume that it is all ‘their’ fault? The misinformation surrounding Israel/Palestine needs to be challenged especially regarding what took place in the period up to 1948. Read Benny Morris by all means but read also Ilan Pappe, (The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine). And think carefully about the many assumptions there are in the language we use. I frequently read that Israel accepted the UN partition plan of 1947 whereas the Palestinians rejected it. It’s not true. Israel made no public acceptance of the partition plan and evidence shows there was always an understanding that the ‘Zionst project’ would require force. Interestingly, Israel has never defined its borders.
Back to the protest. Is there a justification for interrupting a dance performance to raise awareness of a deep injustice – for which Britain must take a large degree of responsibility. It was our governments cavalier attitude towards truth and democracy and some individuals’ prioritizing Old Testament interpretation over Jesus’ revelation that pushed us into the mess we now have in the Middle East. Lord, have mercy.