Sunday, July 19, 2015

  • Sunday, July 19, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
Last year, fir the first time, a group was forced to cancel its show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival because of a group of people protesting its appearance there.

This is the first time that the Fringe, which is dedicated to free speech, kicked out a performing group.

The reason? Because the group was Israeli and accepts funding from the State of Israel.

Here is how the "peace protesters" acted:

On July 30 I watched as members of the public arrived to attend the performance of The City at the Underbelly Cow Barn and witnessed at first hand a level of menace, intimidation and coercion that I had previously thought impossible to witness on the streets of Edinburgh. A 14-year-old girl was yelled at so loudly and at such close quarters that the transfer of spittle from a protestor was evident.

Charlie Wood, director of the Underbelly, said..."The demonstrations pushed the meaning of 'peaceful', they were screaming at children walking past to see another show, saying 'you've got blood on your ticket.'
So of course there is a huge push by free-speech advocates to ensure that a group of thugs cannot repeat their censorship this year, right?

Um, no. Actually, the Left's response to censoring Israelis is to invite Israel's enemies to perform.
A fund-raising campaign founded by the playwright David Greig that arose out of the storm of protest has unveiled a line up of Palestinian artists paid for by £10,000 in public donations.

Greig set up the crowd funding campaign to provide financial aid for shows and artists, notably from Palestine, who otherwise find it hard to come to the Edinburgh festivals.

The initiative, called Welcome to the Fringe, has now unveiled a list of 12 artists supported by the campaign and events at two venues during this year's festival.

Greig was instrumental in setting up the initiative following the controversy that in 2014 engulfed a show called The City by Incubator Theatre.

The company was partially funded by Israel's Ministry of Culture and a series of cultural figures signed a letter urging the Underbelly venue to reconsider staging the show.

Following a furore and an inability to find a new venue, eventually the show was cancelled.

In the aftermath Greig established the funding initiative "to do something positive" and to aid Palestinian - and other - artists.

Because it wasn't quite one-sided enough to just censor Israeli voices - they have to invite Israel's enemies to have an uncensored venue for propaganda. (The Israeli show that was canceled was not political at all, I would be most surprised if the Arab artists being invited are not putting on anti-Israel pieces.)

Here's Grieg's kumbaya spin on his support for censorship for the "largest open access arts festival in the world"
He said: "It dispirits me knowing that my Palestinian theatre making friends are unable to come here and, it dispirits me to think that Israeli theatre makers who are brave enough to reject their government's sponsorship, might be unable to come here as well.

"In the light of all this, I felt the need to do something positive."
One of the many ironies is that Israel is shown to be far more liberal then the screeching Leftists like Grieg. As the Guardian reported at the time:
The company's artistic director, Arik Eshet, said that his government was not funding art for political reasons. "They fund art for art," he said. "It can be against the government, we are not censored. Every group that comes to the Fringe from other countries is unable to come without government help."
Israel doesn't censor Israel's critics - but  Edinburgh Fringe censors Israelis no matter who they are as long as they are guilty of the heinous crime of accepting money from their government. which, incidentally, is a crime that the Edinburgh Festival is also guilty of. .

One more thing. Amnesty International has a big presence at the festival:

We were back at Edinburgh, the world’s biggest arts festival, with a full programme celebrating Freedom of Expression in all its forms.

Freedom of expression has always been a core part of our work and is closely linked to the right to hold opinions and the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Amnesty International declared that 2014 had been 'Another amazing year for theatre with a human rights focus at the Fringe' as the organisation announced the winner of its prestigious annual Freedom of Expression Award which is given to an outstanding Fringe production carrying a human rights message.
How did Amnesty, for which freedom of expression is so important, respond to the censorship of a non-political Israeli theatre group?

They were there, they saw it - but they didn't utter a word of protest. Instead, they "celebrated" how much the festival supports freedom of speech!

Clearly only some types of speech.

The hypocrisy is staggering.

(h/t/ Ellis)

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