Palestine solidarity activists protested outside the ‘International Shalom Gala Festival’ which was held within the program of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on Wednesday 17th August.
Organizers of the festival claimed that it was a non-political event aimed at ‘building bridges of peace’, yet the festival website expressed a contrary views, describing the event as “…probably the most significant pro-Israel event of the year in the United Kingdom”.
In a strongly worded call for mobilisation against the event, Scottish Palestinian activists called the event “…nothing more than an explicit attempt to whitewash the crimes of a state”.
PROTEST: No2BrandIsrael at Edinburgh Festival https://t.co/9TSdWoj1eZ
— Rhett Smith (@RhettSmith2012) August 13, 2016
They further stated that the “Edinburgh Fringe Festival should not be helping to promote… propaganda for a state that stands accused by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and other bodies of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.”
Activists from across the UK were joined by members of the international solidarity movements from France and Germany.
On the day of the festival, several attendees left the event to demand police officers stop the protest. However, their demands were not met as the protesters remained on site until the event drew to a close on Wednesday evening.
There are a few dozen pro-Palestine protesters outside an Edinburgh Festival celebration of Israeli culture tonight. pic.twitter.com/BAZFAOqGqH
— Brian Ferguson (@brianjaffa) August 17, 2016
There is a long history of boycott activism around Israeli state-funded events at Edinburgh’s various festivals. A 2009 campaign in which renowned film director Ken Loach played a prominent role led to the Edinburgh International Film Festival returning funding that had initially been accepted from the Israeli Embassy.
During the 2012 Edinburgh Festival activists disrupted the tour of the Batsheva Dance Company, whilst the planned 2014 Fringe Festival shows by both the Incubator Theatre Company and the Pola Dance Company were cancelled following campaigning and protests.