Petition asks Ballet BC to join artists’ boycott of Israel

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A local Palestinian group is drawing attention to the imminent demolition of a village and school in the West Bank, by calling on a local ballet company to change its travel plans.

The Canada Palestine Association has launched an online petition, hoping Vancouver-based Ballet BC cancels its trip to Israel in the New Year, in order to send a message to the Israeli government.

“I think we want them to acknowledge that there is an injustice happening and that there is a boycott movement that’s growing all over the world,” says Hanna Kawas, the chair of the association.

Khan al-Ahmar is a village scheduled to be razed in the coming days. A school with 167 students will also be dismantled.

In September, the Israeli High Court determined the settlement was built without the permission of the Israeli government, and that people should vacate by October 1.

UNICEF has even released a statement, saying it’s alarmed by the news.

Kawas says by Ballet BC agreeing to the boycott, it would be the latest name on a list started in the UK two years ago. Musicians Roger Waters and Elvis Costello are among those names.

“Twelve-hundred artists have pledged support in the UK not to deal with Israel until it abides with humanitarian law,” he says.

Three thousand people have already signed the Canada Palestine Association petition.

“I think we are not surprised. We feel most Canadians support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement.”

When asked if it was considering a boycott, Ballet BC provided NEWS 1130 this statement.

“Ballet BC is Canada’s leading contemporary ballet company committed to excellence and collaboration in dance, inspiring local, national, and international audiences. As a creation-based company with global recognition and perspective, Ballet BC serves as a cultural ambassador, inspires diverse communities through dance and promotes inclusion in and through all that we do.

“Ballet BC has travelled the world extensively to share this mission. We have been invited to perform as a part of “CanaDance 2019,” a festival supported by the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv at the Suzanne Dellal Centre along with two other Canadian dance companies. We are honoured to be a part of this festival and to serve as ambassadors for British Columbia and Canada. This performance, just as all others, is a showcase of the talent Canada is training and producing, and definitively promotes the mission of Ballet BC.”

The ballet company’s performances in Tel Aviv are set for January 11 and 12.

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