Stefanella's Drive Thru

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Burn Baby Burn March 7, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 11:00 am

Just in case anyone out there was questioning Anti-Semitism’s Viability in today’s 21st century world of multi-culture and open-mindedness, fret no further mein kinder. I’m here to personally testify: It’s alive, well and pirouetting across the stage at a certain London based dance magazine.

Okay so here’s what happened:

A very hip, Tel Aviv-based modern dance company (pictured above)
I recently profiled returned from Manhattan’s Alvin Ailey Theater last week and they’re off to performances in Cuba and North America this Spring. I figure they’re on the up & up. So I pick up the phone to the afore-mentioned magazine editor to pitch the story.

The head of advertising answers and immediately launches into a quiet yet resolute political diatribe upon hearing where the company is based. I’m thinking: WTF? Why is a dance magazine guy talking politics to me? And never mind my interjections on artistic director Sally-Anne’s behalf…that she broke away from apartheid South Africa, that her most recent creation Borders expresses boundary breakdowns both personal and political ..

He tells me that because of the occupation the magazine doesn’t run stories on dance companies based in Israel. He also assures that he is in no way, shape or form racist because he’s a Sikh from Northern India. Gee, I feel better.

He recommends I speak with the magazine editor so I do. She backs his stance. Even further. We don’t allow advertisements or stories from Israel but if we are going to run something, it’s with a statement from the source denouncing the occupation she replies.

So what do you need? I ask. A disclaimer from the artistic director?

I want to know where they get their funding she tells me. If it’s from Israel or from the Israeli government then I can’t run anything on them.

Let me think for a minute. A dance company (i.e. NO MONEY) traveling internationally without government or affiliate sponsorship…It was over before it started.

So I quietly ask this uber fair unbiased person protesting occupation from the comfort of her cushy office suite while simultaneously shutting out artistic attempts at bridging gaps whether she’s been here before.

I’m fully aware of the situation she answers.

But have you been here? …And you know, as did I, what her answer was. I hung up.

I’m against the occupation too, for the record, and want a resolution to the HLC (Holy Land Central) mess more than does the London Dance Lady because I have more at stake.

But we’re talking dance here, folks. And blatant anti-semitism. And ignorance and a dangerous policy that mirrors the very policy its creators wish to abolish.

So my friend Allison is on the case. She promptly rang up her contact at London’s Jewish Chronicle who called me for info…Stay tuned. Not pretty.


27 Responses to “Burn Baby Burn”

  1. Swollen Says:

    There appears to have been an editorial in the May 2002 edition of Dance Europe by managing director Emma Manning concerning her views on Jenin! I haven’t been able to find the editorial but the forum comments make her views clear.

  2. ontheface Says:

    I linked to this post in my weekly post for Global Voices Online.

  3. Tamar Says:

    Horribilis dictu, Horrible to say. This truth is horrifying, and your
    exposing it frees us from delusions and inappropriate responses. It is
    to your credit that you did not accept silence when you repeatedly
    asked for a reply to your e-inquiries. Many people ask me what is in a
    blog, and I say, among other content, news, information, wit, wisdom,
    and muckraking. You go, girl!

  4. Rachel Says:

    Thanks for writing about this. I’ve put out the word to dancers and dance journalists. We’ll see what happens.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    The editor of Dance Europe is not only anti-Israel, but also virulently anti-American. I have had the personal experience of having her politics forced upon me as she attempted to influence my writing. She began to insist that when interviewing dancers – I should particularly seek out their political views.

    I wrote for the magazine for over two years but was summarily informed one day that because of America’s foreign policy, as a citizen of the United States, my work would no longer be accepted.

    It’s a dance magazine – not a stage for the editor’s politics.

    Dance is vulnerable enough without injecting political agendas into it. We need good dance, good writers and good publications as an asset to the art form – not to forward someone’s political agenda.

    If a dance artist wishes to do forward a political statement through his/her work, that’s certainly acceptable, but for an editor to censure coverage of the art form, is quite another thing.

    Censurship is not acceptable.

    I took the several issues of the magazine to a number of librarians in my city and asked for their professional opinion. All of them told me that it was inappropriate for the editor’s agenda to leek out beyond the edidtorial page and certainly inappropriate to influence the coverage of an art form.

    I assure you that the librarians at our large city library are by no means political conversatives. They issued their opinions based on their professional experience, not on their personal political bent.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    But if a cultural boycott had not been imposed on South Africa, there would still be apartheid down there.

    Surely it is the right of those who created Dance Europe to decide what they want in their magazine. You’re sounding like stormtroopers.

  7. ontheface Says:

    Anonymous – I was wondering how long it would take for someone to make a Nazi reference. Wow, not long. Congrats on being a jerk, and do yourself a favour – google “Godwin’s Law.”

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I can completely understand your anger and frustration, especially that this person seems so much into her political “mission” that she is not even willing considering that this a dance company is indeed trying to make bridges with their artisitc means. But I will never understand why one always has to bring in anti-semitism in this kind of things. Why does criticism or opposition to Israeli policies (and may they be wrong, one-sided or ridiculous in some cases) always have to be attacked with the reproach of anti-semitism. Until this line in your posting, I was completely with you…

  9. George Says:

    Because Israel’s a Jewish state.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    “Because Israel’s a Jewish state.”

    But Israel’s NOT all Jews. Nor is it Jewishness. So tell me again why criticisim of Israel is always “antisemitism.”

    Or were you merely attempting to smear somebody you happened to disagree with?

  11. waterdragon52 Says:

    what is it with the “anonymous” ones…

    …it’s constructively anti-semetic when you focus on Israel and/or Jews and hold them to a standard you would not impose on any other nation. There are far worse human rights offenders in the world — more than 30 of them by the accounts of the UN’s own scale of offenders — whose activities draw no interest at all. For starters what about proposing an economic, cultural and academic boycott of China, which is a very repressive regime domestically and has also been a very cruel and imperialistic occupier of Tibet for over 50 years?

    Meanwhile, I read at some other blogsite of a young Indian Muslim girl whose family is being shunned because the little girl was accepted to dance in a classic Indian dance company.

    I guess the only type of dance that’s acceptable to Muslim myscogenists is belly dancing.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    I am the first one to use the screen name of “Anonymous”…….

    Whether it is anti-semitism or not only the editor in question knows.

    What we are discussing here is not what’s in her heart, but the censoring of artists from a particular country. Whatever her motives one cannot celebrate, congratulate or elevate censorship.

    However, punishing artists because of the foreign policy of their government is not conducive to changing that government’s policy.

    If that were the case then Saudi Arabian artists should be punished for the way that country limits the civil rights of the women.

    North Korean artists should be punished because the government restricts the movement of its people.

    Chinese artists should be punished because the press is censored there.

    Artists in Myamar should be punished because civil rights are almost non-existent there.

    A number of African nations practice female genital mutilation – so punish their artists.

    Cuba forbids its citizens to leave – so punish its artists.

    Ridiculous you say?

    Well, how about punishing the artists in Israel because one disagrees with the policies of that government?

    Why is Israel considered differently than all others?

    Does it really make any sense to conclude that in all the world Israel is the very worst of all nations?

    That’s not logical. So what else is in play?

    Does it matter “what’s in play?”

    It’s still censorhip.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    No, I disagree that the term “censorship” adds anything to the discussion. The ethics of a cultural boycott have been well discussed for more than a generation now. Go back to the campaigns to end South African apartheid and read about it.

    A boycott aims to force the members of a society to confront the truth about their behavior. It can seem unfair because it works at the level of the society, not the individual. But that is precisely why it is necessary in those cases where the injustice has been institutionalized by the society as a whole. Don’t forget that, unlike your examples of China and Saudi Arabia, Israel is a democracy. Ariel Sharon didn’t impose his will on Israeli society, he was elected (overwhelmingly, twice). Apartheid South Africa was also proud of being a democracy.

    (This is just a plea to keep the two issues separate. Whether or not you consider Zionism just or unjust, the ethics of a boycott against the institutionalized practices of democratic societies is a separate issue.)

    (And lay off the “antisemitism” stuff! Geesh.)

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Please don’t assume I am ignorant of South Africa and its history. To assume ignorance in another person is to denigrate your own store of knowledge. I would never do that to you. I don’t denigrate you – merely differ with your opinion.

    No matter how you try to jusitfy it through using South Africa as an example….

    it still censorship.

    South Africa did not change because of censorship of artists, but because of economic pressure.

    That you try to justify censorship shows the vacuity of the argument.

    Think about it – you are justifying censorship of the artists one particular country.

    There is also another side to the issue – the Israelis do have another side. We need to listen to both sides.

    To eliminate one side is censorship.

    There is never a good reason for censorship. It’s cowardly -it’s afraid of something.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Speaking of Israel being a democracy………

    The Palestinians just elected Hamas to govern them. Hamas is an entity that has been declared to be a terrorist group by countries throughout Western Europe as well as the United States and the EU.

    Hamas has as its central mission the utter destruction of the State of Israel. Not the “occupation” of Israel – but its destruction.

    The Palestinian people did not vote this group in by accident, they knew very well for whom they voted.

    Shall we censure and boycott their artists? Of course not.

    On the other hand, the people of Israel as well as their government have declared their readiness to accept and live beside a Palestinian state in peace.

    Hamas has no such view – its agenda remains the destruction of the State of Israel.

    Shall we boycott and censure the Palestinian artists?

    Of course not!

    So your argument about Israel being a democracy doesn’t stand.

    Censorship never stands on the feet of reasoned argument.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    “Shall we boycott and censure the Palestinian artists?”

    Ummm, the next time Palestinian artists in Ramallah want to return to their fathers’ villages to give a concert, you tell me what happens.

    “The people of Israel as well as their government have declared their readiness to accept and live beside a Palestinian state in peace.”

    I’m going to bow out now, but I would just like to say that I sincerely hope you did not write that from Israel. It’s one thing for American Jews to have a rose-tinted view of what’s going on over there, but if you’re an Israeli you have no excuse.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    ***I’m going to bow out now, but I would just like to say that I sincerely hope you did not write that from Israel. It’s one thing for American Jews to have a rose-tinted view of what’s going on over there, but if you’re an Israeli you have no excuse.***

    I am not an Israeli – have never been there and don’t know anyone who lives there.

    It is the stated policy of the government of Israel to accept a Palestinian State living in peace side by side with the State of Israel. Polls show that the majority of Israelis accept that.

    When Sharon dismantled settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, there were Israelis who protested, but the majority supported Sharon – they supported him on that platform.

    It started with Ehud Barak when he offered Arafat 97% of what Arafat wanted at Camp David under the auspices of President Clinton.

    Arafat refused – even a 97% offer. Clinton was stunned. Still Israel has stated it accepts the reality of a Palestinian State. The Palestinians have not accepted the right of the State of Israel to exist.

    If you bow out now – that is your choice.

    But you are not being censored.

    Censorship is never the correct path. It blots out the right of the reader to read both sides and decide.

  18. Judith Says:

    “Ummm, the next time Palestinian artists in Ramallah want to return to their fathers’ villages to give a concert, you tell me what happens.”

    Ummm, the next time Jews want to go back to their ancestors’ villages in Hebron and Jericho, you tell me what happens.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Here’s what happens when they go back to Hebron. It’s heart-warming–


    (I didn’t have a link specific to Jericho on hand, so you’ll just have to use your imagination. But something tells me you’re used to imagining it. Like maybe from a comfortable distance of 5000 miles away?)

  20. Anonymous Says:

    anonymous must be ignorant about he history of Hebron – not the Biblical so much, but the 1920’s and 1930’s when the ancient religious Jewish community was massacred by local Arabs and the area made judenrein.

  21. Steven Says:

    This is disgusting. I am feeling less proud of my British-ness and less comfortable of being here in London.

    I also have a strange feeling that “Respect” may do quite well in the next elections, and if it does, I am out of here and off to Israel, even if that means that I have to stop my degree half way through. I hope it doesnt come to that, I would be more useful to Israel if I can finish my degree first.

  22. Steven Says:

    Annon 20:43, thank you for those details. I am making a copy. Hope you dont mind.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    “It started with Ehud Barak when he offered Arafat 97% of what Arafat wanted at Camp David under the auspices of President Clinton.

    Arafat refused – even a 97% offer. Clinton was stunned. Still Israel has stated it accepts the reality of a Palestinian State. The Palestinians have not accepted the right of the State of Israel to exist.”


    In my own research I have found that especially in the US, the media really played up Barak’s “generous” offer being rejected by Arafat. But these websites gave me a different perspective to consider on the issue.

    If the offer was believed to be unjust, why would one accept it? Was it really as generous as the US public was led to believe?

    And I am also uncomfortable with the overgeneralization that the Palestinians have not accepted the right of the state of Israel to exist. That might be the official position but is not necessarily representative of all Palestinian people. To me, that’s like saying US Citizens have accepted the Iraq War just because President Bush has.

    As for the comments about various countries and human rights abuses/atrocities and whether there has been a disproportionate focus on Israel as compared to other nations, I don’t really know. But for me, the most powerful thing each citizen can do is to critically examine his/her own country and what it has done, historically and currently and to not shy away from the ugly truths that we indirectly and/or directly participate in through our silence, inaction, or defense of what we believe is right but may not be. And I believe it is also our mission as citizens of the globe to focus on global issues as well. I was recently told by someone I work with that a key principle of Eastern philosophy is to pay attention to your own “demons”. If you only focus on, for example, believing you are a “kind person” you indirectly give more creedance to the “unkind” shadow and it grows without you even realizing it. I think this metaphor can apply here.

    As for the other discussions, I don’t know enough to comment but I do think that art is a powerful medium to showcase our humanity, comment on the world, challenge our sensibilities, and touch us in ways that other avenues cannot. And that’s always amazing to me.

  24. Indefatigathingummy Says:

    I posted a message on the Dance Europe website asking for clarification on its policy (if any) about Israel. There was no reply; the message has been removed.

    I’ll try emailing the editorial board directly, and will report on what I discover, if anything.


  25. Doug Fox Says:

    Stephanie, thank you for sharing your story.

    Here’s is my post about Dance Europe:

    “Dance Europe’s Unacceptable Discrimination Against Israeli Dancers”

  26. Anonymous Says:

    You can argue all you want about whether the Palestinians considered getting 97% of what they wanted as offered by Barak – as generous or not…

    But you can’t argue with the fact that the government of Israel as well as the Israeli people through their elections in electing that government have made it official policy to live side by side with a Palestinian state.

    In constrast the Palestinian government has never made that their official policy. In fact quite the opposite. It is the stated policy of the new government majority – HAMAS – to work for the destruction of Israel.

    But be that as it may – the behavior of a magazine to totally descriminate against a specific group of artists cannot be condoned.

    The dance community as whole has to live with it – but we should condemn it.

    Emma Manning, editor of Dance Magazine, is a virulent hater of the United States as well as Israel. She descriminates against American writers unless they openly state to her that they agree with her politics.

    So, are American artists the next victims of her vitriol?

  27. Anonymous Says:

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