Israeli university yanks dance troupe from festival in Scotland over protests

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A student dance company from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has cancelled its participation in a festival in Scotland over security concerns.

The students were scheduled to dance during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Aug. 9 to Aug. 12.

The university made the decision to pull its dance company over concerns about plans by anti-Israel protesters, it said in a statement.

“The personal safety of the members of the dance company is the most important factor and we will certainly not compromise on that in any way. We received warnings that their participation could endanger the dancers, therefore, in consultation with the relevant parties, we made the hard decision not to send the company to the planned performances in Edinburgh,” BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi said in a statement Sunday. “It is a shame that this is the state of affairs – where artistic freedom of expression is being sorely tested. The company has no connection to politics, but everything has become highly politicized.”

The cancellation comes after the Israeli play “This City” by the Incubator Theater, which is funded by the Israeli government, was targeted in Edinburgh last week by protesters. The venue canceled further performances following the protests, which disrupted other nearby venues.

The group currently is performing on the street while searching for a new venue.

“But we are trying to be in a good mood, we are trying to find a new venue and in the meantime we’ll sing in the streets … sing for peace,” company artistic director Arik Eshet told the British newspaper the Guardian.