Thursday, June 28, 2012

Boycott of Saltimbanco in Jordan Highlights Palestinian Rights

PHOTO by Fares Khalifeh, Amman
Cirque du Soleil's Saltimbanco opened on 26 June at the Prince Hamza Arena in Amman, Jordan. The Jordanian Popular Boycott Movement activists were there to raise awareness about the unfortunate complicity of Cirque du Soleil in whitewashing the apartheid state of Israel.  
"We protested in front of the CDS venue yesterday. We were 40-50 people and made quite a stir. Some cars turned around and left, probably 6-8 cars in all. One man and his daughter even joined our protest. It was quite amazing! We got a lot of support from passers-by. This said, I know that many people changed their minds about going in the first place" said Majd Muhsen in Amman. 
Signs in both English and Arabic read:

48+67= 1 Palestine 
Cirque du Soleil DON'T CARTWHEEL OVER HUMAN RIGHTS Boycott Resist, 
Palestine is an arab country -Divest -Resist , 
In this week one child age 2 was murdered in Gaza

Cirque du Soleil travels to Doha, Qatar's Aspire Dome from July 4-7.  Qatar Youth Against Normalization wrote to Renée-Claude Ménard of CDS stating:

Doha has a rich history in welcoming and advocating arts and cultural exchange, but the choice by Cirque du Soleil to perform in Israel is tantamount to condoning the policies of an apartheid state. As people of conscience we are writing to ask you to respect the Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

The Jordanian Popular Boycott Movement wrote to Cirque du Soleil in May:

“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral”―Paulo Freire
PHOTO by Fares Khalifeh, Amman  

As Jordanians and as conscientious citizens of the world, we are appalled to learn that Cirque du Soleil is scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv this August. We are strong advocates of the arts and of cultural exchange, but the choice of Cirque du Soleil to entertain those who commit crimes of war and against humanity is shameful.
As often neglected by mainstream media, Zionist militias (such as the Haganah) started arriving in Palestine back in 1917. Through land-theft, ethnic cleansing, displacement of native people, terrorizing innocent civilians, and the distortion of natural terrain, what is referred to today as the “State of Israel” was created. At present, this so-called State grew to become more brutal, and continues to rob our land, massacre our people, appropriate our cultural heritage, and commit what is now known as the crime of apartheid. This is not a matter of opinion or perspective; it is an issue of historical events and documented facts.
Since the establishment of this colonial entity and until this day, our people have resorted to various forms of resistance, be it armed or non-violent, organized or popular. For us, to resist is to exist. Boycott strategies are but one form of peaceful resistance that we choose to implement. We believe that artists have a responsibility towards what is righteous, as art should not stand neutral and indifferent towards injustice; this is why more than 500 artists in Montreal alone have decided to boycott. We ask you to join them.
Under what you call the Global Citizenship section of your website, you state that “Ever since Cirque du Soleil had the resources to pursue its dreams and perform around the world, it chose to become involved in communities… Concerned with the future, Cirque du Soleil turned its attention and resources to global issues… Cirque du Soleil wants above all to take its place in society as a good citizen, with all the duties and responsibilities that go with citizenship”.
A “good citizen” does not side with those who commit genocides. Your participation there will help them in promoting themselves as peace lovers; this so-called State has mastered the game of “criminal-record laundry” using the arts and culture, and you will be contributing to that.
We urge you as humans and as artists to take a stand against entertaining those who have and continue to commit various forms of atrocities. This is not a political position that we are asking you to take, but one of justice and human dignity. Take the stand that so many freedom fighters have taken before, cancel your show in Tel Aviv.
Should Cirque du Soleil decide to boycott, we will be your strongest promoters in Jordan and the region, but if you choose to go ahead as planned, then we will be obliged to launch a boycott campaign against the event in Jordan, and we will urge other boycott movements around the world to do the same.
Finally, and despite your decision, we ask that you share this letter amongst members and artists in your group, for it is their right to be aware of what they are taking part in.
The Jordanian Popular Boycott Movement
Additional photos of the protest in Amman can be seen on facebook at this link.