Friday, 1 August 2014

I will attend the show

The cancellation of performances of a Fringe show by the Incubator Theatre, based in Jerusalem, has left promoters Underbelly looking for a venue which can be more secure.  The show did start its run at the Reid Hall in Bristo Square but police, Edinburgh University and Underbelly apparently decided that they could not guarantee security under the threat from anti Israeli protestors organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

A number of people in the arts world had earlier made their views felt in a publicity campaign against the Israeli based company - which receives part funding from the Israeli Government.

However, the campaign took on a thuggish character when demonstrators attending the opening performance attempted (successfully) to intimidate those attending.  An eye witness said:
"On Tuesday I went to see the Israeli show The City at the Underbelly, as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
I believe in the right to peaceful protest but this was something else. This was frightening.
A crowd of people were screaming and shouting in my face, chanting at me: “There is blood on your tickets” and wilfully intimidating the public in the hope that they would be too afraid to go in.
Mostly it worked. A small number of people including five bewildered girls ran the gauntlet with help from the police.
The Fringe staff were wonderful and tried to offer some sympathy. “Is this Scotland?” I thought. Did I just get vilified for going to a theatre performance?
I am not ignorant of the current situation in Israel/Palestine. It is one of many conflicts that rage throughout the globe.
However, it is time for people to do some soul-searching.
The Israeli show is the only one that will be forced to shut down at the Fringe this year.
At the recent Palestine Solidarity Campaign demonstrations in France there were shocking outbreaks of antisemitism and in London placards that read “Hitler was right”.
How easily passion can turn dark. I wonder how the Scottish public going to the Fringe will respond.
Will they congratulate the protesters on their success at shutting these artists down, or (if another safer venue can be found) will the public dare to run the gauntlet like I did?"
I can understand differing views on the complex situation unfolding in Israel and Gaza.  But intimidation and thuggery is an own goal to whoever espouses them, striking against free speech and artistic freedom.

In support of free speech and public order I am minded to attend the new venue if and when arranged.


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