Via Allison Kaplan Sommer, there's this story from Stefanella of her discovery that a London-based dance magazine, Dance Europe, has for some time been running a boycott on featuring Israeli dance companies and Israeli dancers .
In the words of the editor, Emma Manning, in conversation with Stefanella:
We don't allow advertisements or stories from Israel but if we are going to run something, it's with a statement from the source denouncing the occupation
So what do you need? I ask. A disclaimer from the artistic director?
I want to know where they get their funding she tells me. If it's from Israel or from the Israeli government then I can't run anything on that.
It seems that Emma Manning has had a bee in her bonnet about Israel for some time. At the time of the Israeli action in Jenin in 2002, her May 2002 editorial in Dance Europe opined that that the Palestinians cannot be asked to pay for the crimes of the Nazis.
That was then. But one really extraordinary thing is that there appears to be no policy statement of their de facto boycott policy anywhere on the magazine web site.
In fact, their overarching policy statement reads:
The editorial policy aims to provide an unbiased platform for dance throughout Europe and beyond, Many of the contributors are professional dancers or ex-dancers
Dance Europe claims to list dance companies round the world. It does not reveal its policy of excluding Israeli dance companies and dancers, or of requiring the source of any Israeli story to make a statement "denouncing the occupation."
However, Dance Europe finds no problems in listing a dance company from China, a country which has systematically repressed and attempted to destroy the culture of Tibet, a country which it occupies. To say nothing of its brutal record under Mao of all but destroying the ancient culture of traditional dance in favour of propaganda ballets under the tutelage of Madame Mao. Nor does Dance Europe have any problems listing and enthusiastically reviewing a multitude of companies and dancers from Russia, renowned for its brutal repression and murders of Chechen people. It has no problems running what looks like an enthusiastic review of a Cuban dance company without demanding that its members denounce Cuban policies of locking up political opponents and gays.
So why is Israel singled out when other countries are not? Why does the editorial policy of Dance Europe appear to demand that Israelis make ritual political denunciations of their government when no similar demands are made of the nationals of countries responsible for repression and murder on a breathtaking scale?
Apart from the views of its editor Emma Manning, there's a closer connection between Dance Europe and the politics of boycotting Israel than meets the eye.
In its list of dance companies around the world, whilst one country, Israel, is missing, there's another country which doesn't yet exist: Palestine.
The Palestinian dance company listed is the El-Funoun Popular Dance Troupe.
One of the contributing writers of Dance Europe is Nicholas Rowe. When Stefanella emailed the editor of Dance Europe to complain about the boycott policy, she got in reply an astounding email from Rowe. He presumably thought he was defending Dance Europe's boycott by saying things like
Discussion, listening and sharing of perspectives is a far greater remedy to the political strife in the Middle East than sensationalist abuse and accusation" and
"It is only when you are willing to come down to a more vulnerable level of sensitive, human interaction that you find solutions"
So where's the discussion, listening, sharing and sensitive human interaction in Dance Europe with Israelis, then?
Stefanella provided a link to an article by Nicholas Rowe from Counterpunch which showed what his political views on cultural relations with Israel are:
the things I would expect of an Israeli before I would be willing to work with them, the list that I had published 5 years earlier...
"1. They must openly refuse to do their national service. I cannot work with anyone who would give any support to this military machine.
2. They must publicly declare, through their art or even a simple programme note, that they condemn the military occupation of the Palestinian Territories.
3. They must publicly declare, through their art or even a single programme note, that all the illegal Israeli settlements must be dismantled.
4. They must publicly declare, through their art or even a single programme note, that they support the return of refugees.
What a simple list, a little combination of UN 194 and 242 with a little something of my own, yet not a single Israeli artist (and I had badgered quite a few) was willing to accept it. Why not? I was simply asking for the same rights that they afford themselves and have denied Palestinians for so long."
The Jewish Chronicle today has followed up the story, having been alerted to it by Allison and Stefanie. Their reporter pointedly asked why the Palestinian company isn't asked to sign a statement dissocating themselves from suicide bombing.
Dance Europe's advertising editor said that it was because the Palestinians were an occupied country and they needed to defend themselves.
Counterpunch, has a notorious track record as an ultra left rag that publishes anti-semitic conspiracy theorists like Gilad Atzmon, and whose editor himself writes similar conspiracy theories about the US being Israeli-occupied territory.
Nicholas Rowe turns out to be a trainer to the El-Funoun popular dance troup, who lives in Ramallah, but is Australian.
He first wrote an article advocating the cultural boycott of Israel in Dance Europe in May 2002, the same issue which carried the denunciation of Israel by Emma Manning which I referred to above.
And it turns out that the choreographer of El-Funoun is no less than Omar Barghouti, the leading advocate of total boycotts of Israel. He is the Palestinians' lead guy in promoting the cultural boycott wing of the boycott-Israel movement. He was a lead speaker at the conference in December 2004 in London which set in motion the moves to establish the attempts in the UK's AUT to establish an academic boycott of Israeli universities. You can get a flavour of his extremely balanced and objective views in --- of course-- Counterpunch through this article.
Now here's the really hilarious information. Omar Barghouti, the lionized hero of the boycott-Israel movement, who is so uncompromising in his demands for total boycotts of all things Israeli, turns out to be... studying for a PhD at Tel-Aviv University.
His PhD is in philosophy. What, are there no philosophers at Birzeit or one of the other Palestinian universities? Is it one more of the dastardly blows of the occupying Israeli regime that this man is forced to pursue his PhD at Tel-Aviv University?