Batsheva could face picketers tonight

In addition to calls for a boycott of its performances, the Batsheva Dance Company is also facing the prospect of pickets at its shows tonight (February 20) and tomorrow evening at the Playhouse.

On Wednesday (February 18), Omar Barghouti, founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, put out an open call for protesters to picket the acclaimed dance company’s Vancouver performances.

“We urge you to join us as we nonviolently oppose this performance, as part of building a sustained BDS [Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions] campaign,” wrote Barghouti.

The decision of whether or not to boycott and/or protest Batsheva’s Vancouver performances has sparked intense debate in the artistic world. Video artist jamie griffiths ignited the controversy when she sent an email to members of the dance community urging a boycott of their shows.

While some, including filmmaker Maureen Kelleher, responded favourably to griffiths’ letter, others, such as local lighting designer Itai Erdal rejected the idea, insisting that a boycott would only punish artists. The Canada-Israel Committee also roundly condemned griffith’s action.

Should Batsheva’s dancers be greeted tonight by picketers, they will likely take it in their stride; protests have followed the troupe throughout its North American tour, in cities including Chicago and Pittsburgh.