Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company, which just concluded performances of Ohad Naharin’s Max at BAM, drew anti-Israel protesters last week demanding that people boycott Israel and all aspects of Israeli life, including the arts. Laura Collins-Hughes recently wrote about what she witnessed outside of BAM. Here’s an excerpt from her post:
A lone leafletter stood amid the throng entering the opera house, a tall, gentle man with a stack of photocopies he was having very little success giving away — partly because he was tentative in offering them. “They’re a dance company!” an indignant young woman was saying loudly to him. “What is the logic?”
Collins-Hughes goes on to explain the futility of demonstrating against artists for political reasons, and mentions how this strategy can especially hurt American artists abroad considering the US’s bad reputation during the past eight, tumultuous years:
Artists abroad are asked to answer for their country all the time. That’s part of what makes cultural diplomacy so important to PR-savvy governments. When artists travel, like it or not, they are ambassadors of their people. But if, for example, American artists were held accountable for outrages perpetrated in their name, they would have had very few foreign takers for their work during the Bush years, so fervently did the people of other nations despise the actions of our government.