Brighton & Hove PSC defeats zionist attempt to exploit appointment
In late 2013, it was announced that Hofesh Shechter, the celebrated Israeli-born dancer and choreographer, had been appointed Guest Director for the 2014 Brighton Festival. Almost immediately, pro-Israel web and social media sites struck up a shrill form of gloating about the appointment, claiming that it represented some kind of defeat for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
After all, local supporters of justice for Palestine have in recent years protested against some particular Israeli artistic performances in Brighton & Hove, including the Batsheva Dance Company, the Jerusalem Quartet, and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. In these high-profile protests, demonstrators had no quarrel with individual artists or performers, or with their groups. But it was a matter of record that these performances had been deliberately and cynically promoted by the Israeli government in order to counter the negative publicity that surrounds the regime, and to conjure up an image of Israel as ‘Western’ and ‘civilised’. So, if the zionists had been right, and Hofesh Shechter and his company were part of Israel’s ‘hasbara’ campaign, he and the events he curates in his role as Festival Guest Director would be considered legitimate targets for protest.
But once again the zionists have got it wrong. Mr Shechter promptly replied to our letter in polite and unambiguous terms. He confirmed that it ‘is absolutely the case…that we operate independently of the Israeli Government’ and moreover that he ‘has no intention of my appointment being used as a political tool for any government’.
With a clarification as unambiguous as this one, we are happy to state that we do not see Hofesh Shechter, or his company, or the events he curates in his role as Festival Director, as suitable targets for protest, unless we find evidence to suggest that any of those events receive Israeli government sponsorship. Indeed many of us will be attending his company’s performances in the spirit of genuine artistic appreciation.
A defeat for BDS? Not likely.