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Groups set boycott of Israeli troupe in N.Y.

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(JTA) — Two New York-based groups have organized a boycott of performances by Israel’s national dance company.

Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel and the New York chapter of Artists Against Apartheid announced the boycott in an open letter to the Batsheva Dance Company, which is scheduled to perform in New York from Sept. 21 to Oct. 3.

The letter said the groups were calling the boycott because of the company’s "collaboration with the Israeli state and its Brand Israel campaign." Brand Israel is a government public relations initiative designed to reshape preconceived notions about Israel.

"Batsheva continues to affirm its relationship with the Brand Israel campaign, as evidenced by the funding you receive from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the co-sponsorship of your New York performances by the Office of Cultural Affairs, Consulate General of Israel in New York," the letter contended.

The groups said that the boycott is part of the growing Boycott Divestment and Sanctions  Movement.

"We hope that one day soon Batsheva will take a strong, unequivocal stance against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and in support of justice and equality for all," the letter said. "Until then, we will continue to urge a popular boycott of your performances in New York City and elsewhere."

Meanwhile, renowned architect Frank Gehry and conductor Daniel Barenboim signed a letter in support of an Israeli artists’ boycott of performing in the West Bank. They join some 200 signatories, including actors Ed Asner, Cynthia Nixon, Mandy Patinkin and Theodore Bikel, and playwright Tony Kushner.

The statement was drafted earlier this month by Jewish Voices for Peace, which praised the "brave decision" by Israeli theater professionals not to perform in Ariel.

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