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News > Culture

Spanish City Oviedo Rescinds Invitation to Israeli Orchestra, Ballet Amid Support Surge for BDS

  • In Europe there have been waves of protests against Israeli use of lethal force against unarmed protesters.

    In Europe there have been waves of protests against Israeli use of lethal force against unarmed protesters. | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 June 2018

Oviedo City Council's decision comes amid increasing calls to boycott Israel and impose a comprehensive military embargo.

The Spanish city of Oviedo disinvited an Israeli orchestra and ballet group arguing “Israeli organizations are not wanted” in its premises in yet another victory for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

How BDS' Non-Violence, Not 'Threats,' Led Argentina to Cancel Match With Israel

Presentations by the orchestra and ballet group were scheduled for this autumn, in the city’s cultural program, but Monday an Israeli news site reported the cancellation over political reasons.  

Last week, the city of Valencia approved a motion proposed by progressive party Podemos, to declare itself as an “Israeli apartheid-free zone,” becoming the largest city in the world to do so.

Before that, Barcelona's city council called for a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel and called on the Spanish state to endorse it. Also, the Catalan cities of Terrassa and Badalona joined these calls and demanded Spain and other European governments stop selling arms to Israel.

However, recent BDS victories could be reversed by Spanish courts, which have previously dismissed 16 boycott decisions approved at municipal levels after lawsuits by Zionist groups in Spain.

Israel has been characterized as an apartheid state for its policies against Palestinians living in Israel and in the occupied West Bank. A commonly cited example is that Palestinians living in the West Bank are subject to military law, while Jewish settlers living in illegal settlements in the West Bank are subject to civil law.

In 2017, a report by the U.N.'s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, ESCWA, concluded that “on the basis of overwhelming evidence ... Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid.”

Shortly after, Rima Khalaf, head of ESCWA resigned over pressure to withdraw the report.

In the wake of Israel’s killing of over 120 Palestinians in Gaza protesting to demand their right as refugees to return to their lands, cities in Europe, including Barcelona, Dublin and Bologna have endorsed the BDS campaign and calls for an arms embargo against Israel.  

The Israeli occupation has faced increasing international pressure due to the BDS movement. In a span of less than a month Shakira canceled her concert in Tel Aviv, Argentina canceled the friendly soccer match with Israel, many well-known and international artists and filmmakers pulled out of Tel Aviv’s LGBT film festival and Paris’ France-Israel Season.

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