Friday Night Lights: American and Israeli human rights activists disrupt ballet performance in Vermont

BURLINGTON, VT- Greetings from the Green Mountain State! I want to give a shout out to those who participated in 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, even those glancing 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 one Israeli and three Vermonters unfurled a banner during the performance. Check out the YouTube Vimeo below the fold!

Israel ballet interrupted in Burlington, Vt. – No tutu is big enough to cover Israel’s War Crimes from samayfield on Vimeo.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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


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

9 thoughts on “Friday Night Lights: American and Israeli human rights activists disrupt ballet performance in Vermont”

  1. Earth to Marc, Earth to Marc: Has it ever crossed your mind–or whatever is left of it–that it is you who are being “used”?

  2. I find it mildly amusing that on the same day as you “disrupted” the Israel Ballet the U.S. Department of Justice excused the actions of John Yoo and Jay Bybee. Additionally, we are still holding “enemy combatants” without charge in Gitmo. Who knows what is going on at Bagram Air Base. The current administration has made no move to hold Bush Administration officials accountable for torture.

    So, are you calling for a general boycott of American goods and cultural offerings then? Have you protested outside performances of the American Ballet Theater or any other U.S.-based performance? If not, given this country’s continuing actions/inactions I’d suggest that makes you hypocrits.

    I received your flyer, was present during that “disruption,” and am largely in agreement with the sentiments behind both. I find, however, refusing to hold this country to the same, if not higher standards, troubling to say the least.

    Lastly, that “disruption?” Did not achieve what you apparently thought it did. Much more sympathy toward the dancers than your cause from the folks I talked with afterward.

    1. What a silly comment. The assault on Gaza had the approval of more than 90% Israelis. Are you suggesting there is similar support for torture in the US? People choose tactics based on what works, not what makes one feel better. Israel, unlike the US, is vulnerable to boycotts. Your charge of hypocrisy is asinine. It will only be valid if the people protesting were somehow supportive of US policies. Are you alleging that they are? By this token every individual who gives to a charity is a hypocrite because there is always someone in Africa who needs that money more. By this token any individual who campaigned for the boycott of South Africa which ultimately helped bring Apartheid down is also a hypocrite.

      Lastly, the South AFrican boycotts, especially of the sports teams, were never popular initially. People only gradually came to realize their political logic. Campaigning is most significant — and difficult — precisely at the time when they are least popular (assuming you are telling the truth). I therefore salute the campaigners. So, I am sure, would have the great Dennis Brutus, or Breyten Breytenbach, or Ronnie Kasrils, or all the other heroes of the anti-Apartheid struggle.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: