Friday Night Lights: Israeli anti-apartheid activists disrupt ballet performance in Vermont

BURLINGTON, VT- Greetings from the Green Mountain State! I want to give a shout out to Vermonters for Just Peace in Israel/Palestine for a successful night of activism. Several activists leafleted 249 people attending last night’s Israeli Ballet performance at the Flynn Theater.

The leaflet asked “Would you like some information about Don Quixote and the Israel Ballet?” — which was an accurate presentation of last night’s performance. “Israel’s ‘Golden Helmet of Mambrino’ — which makes one invisible, thus capable of all actions — is slowly turning into Don Quixote’s version of it — a upside-down shaving bowl plopped on the head — incapable of nothing but making its wearer more obvious and actionable to the world. Brand Israel will continue to call forth increasing protests as audiences realize they are being used,” said author and activist Marc Estrin.

The headline said “A Modern Don Quixote.” Estrin said almost all ballet-goers accepted it, while others glanced at the opening before continuing into the theater. There are no trash cans inside the actual theater, so he assumes most flyers made it to people’s seats for reading before the show began. Estrin said one elderly man “came all the way out again to present us with a crumpled up ball with instructions to ’shove this up your ass,’ but the other 249 copies all made it in.

The other highlight was four VTJP activists unfurled a banner during the performance.

Here is the text of the leaflet given out at last night’s performance. Kudos again to everyone involved in the organizing efforts.

A MODERN DON QUIXOTE

Whether conscious or not, there is a deep irony in the choice of Don Quixote as a touring piece for the Israel Ballet.

For the company here presents a story of enchantment and self-enchantment, delusion and self-delusion, a fairytale of madness and delusory nobility, the story of a dreamer driven mad by ancient books, his mental state now lucid, now insane.

Tonight you will meet The Knight of Sorrowful Countenance, surrounded by enemies and magicians, battling the world of evil. He is cruelly used, physically and mentally, beaten and scorned by the powers around him. Normally grave and self-controlled, he can be goaded into mad fits of rage, unable to distinguish between his fantasies and the world’s realities.

By the end of the book, our hero’s soul is taunted by doubt, by the suspicion that his quest to reestablish the past through arms and armor may be an illusion. “I find myself, Niece,” he says, “at the point of death, and I would die in such a way as not to leave the impression of a life so bad that I shall be remembered as a madman: for even though I have been one, I do not wish to confirm it on my deathbed.”

There are lessons here for all of us.

You art-lovers, people of conscience, members of the international community of intellectuals, have historically stood with the ancient — perhaps quixotic — moral responsibility to fight injustice — as you did, for instance, in helping abolish wage slavery among grape-pickers in California, or apartheid in South Africa — through various forms of boycott.

Given that the UN has many times condemned Israel’s colonial and discriminatory policies as illegal, and that six decades of diplomacy have until now failed to convince Israel to comply with humanitarian law, to respect fundamental human rights and to end its oppression of the people of Palestine, we ask you in the future to support a general boycott of Israeli goods and cultural offerings — an international non-violent effort to impel the Israeli government to end its occupation of Arab lands, to end the house demolitions, dismantle the walls, recognize the claims of Arab citizens of Israel to full equality, and to promote the globally recognized rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

As it is not anti-American to call for ending our own wars, it is not antisemitic to call on the Israeli government to change its policies in the name of freedom and justice.

Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel vtjp.org

I'm a teacher, writer, and activist based in Bangalore. I am dedicated to various issues including #BDS and Palestine, living a Zero Waste life, and putting the carbon back into the soil through composting! I am also a college counsellor who works to help Indian students obtain admission into the university of their choice whether at home or abroad.

Posted in Boycott, Cultural Boycott
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