THE question of Israeli performers at the Edinburgh Fringe is set to become controversial again after the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign said it would organise protests against the International Shalom Festival in the capital.
The festival is due on Wednesday, August 17, at Central Hall at Tollcross, and is a part of the Fringe – it has no connection to the main Festival. The event and the protests that are being organised will inevitably recall the demonstrations in 2012, and the threats of disruption that caused Israeli group Incubator to withdraw from the Fringe two years ago.
Subsequently, there was no participation by any company from Israel in last year’s Fringe, which led Israeli theatre producer Noa Margalit to state: “It’s a shame. Israeli theatre is excellent, especially in Fringe.
Loading article content
“That’s where we can speak about whatever is on our mind freely – or at least, that’s what I thought.”
The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) state on their website the “Israeli Embassy” has revealed a “provocative all-day event”. The campaign vows to oppose all Israeli-state backed cultural events.
The website says: “Embassy-funded Scottish Friends of Israel and StandWithUs are organizing a ‘Shalom Festival’ to promote Israeli democracy and tolerance of minorities, and why Israel needs to dispossess and periodically massacre Palestinians. The primary Israeli aim is to reverse the achievements of BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaigners over many years in Scotland that has seen defeat for efforts by the Israeli Embassy to insert Israeli State-promoted groups into Scottish cultural events.”
Shalom Festival organiser Nigel Goodrich, founder of the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland (COFIS) strongly denied that there is any state funding for his festival.
“The International Shalom Festival is about peace, and peace means dialogue, not violence,” he told the Jewish Chronicle. “We’re not funded by the embassy. Not one shekel.
“If it goes ahead it will be in spite of the embassy, not because of them.”
Goodrich said the acts included Jews, Arabs, Christians and non-aligned people.
In the official Fringe programme, the organisers state: “The International Shalom Festival is a celebration of the diverse culture, music, art, dance and food of Israel, aiming to build cultural bridges and develop international friendship.”
Goodrich added: “That’s what’s really exciting about this, because art can cut across religious differences. It’s all about peace and acceptance of others, in stark contrast to the hate of the SPSC.”
The contact number given for SPSC was “not available” last night and there was no reply from the Edinburgh Fringe office, but the Fringe has stated in the past that “it is our policy that no single individual or committee determines who can or cannot perform at the Fringe”.