Minister steps in to defend dance troupe

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AN Israeli dance company’s right to perform at the Festival has been defended by a UK Government minister following a protest outside a show.

Demonstrators disrupted a performance at the Playhouse by the Batsheva Dance Company, from Tel Aviv. The protests were over the funding of the group, which partly comes from the Israeli government.

Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt said he regretted the attempt by a coalition of Scottish pro-Palestinian groups to disrupt Thursday night’s performance.

The demo had been organised by the Don’t Dance with Israeli Apartheid campaign.

The show, called Hora, had to be stopped three times due to protests inside the theatre. Outside, about 100 people had gathered to sing, demonstrate and burn tickets.

Mr Burt said: “I strongly support the freedom of Batsheva to appear at the Festival, and deeply regret the attempts to disrupt them. The UK absolutely opposes the targeting of institutions and individuals for no other reason than they are from Israel.

“It achieves nothing, is divisive and runs counter to the long history of cultural freedom in this country.”

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy said: “We are delighted the audience gave Batsheva repeated standing ovations.”