Dance group cancels over removal of Israel references


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – A Melbourne-based Israeli dance group refused to perform at a folk festival to protest the organizers’ decision to remove references to their being Israeli.

The Machol Israeli Dancing Club was scheduled to appear at the Multicultural Folk Dance Festival in Mansfield, northeast of Melbourne, on Sunday. The festival included Aboriginal, Chinese, Irish, English, Lebanese, Armenian, Ukrainian and Hungarian folk dances.

But organizers removed the word “Israeli” and instead named the dancers as the Machol Group and described them as a Jewish dance group, the local Jewish website J-Wire reported.

The group, founded in 1993, refused to perform and has taken its complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunities and Human Rights Commission.

In its submission, the Machol club claims it was told that the organizer would not be held responsible for consequences if the words “Israel” or “Israeli” was used to describe the group.

The dance group has more than 200 members and stages dances four times a week.

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