BERLIN – A Lebanese-based organization that promotes a boycott of the Jewish state failed to stop performances on Saturday and Sunday in Berlin of Israeli artist Ariel Efraim Ashbel, who is celebrating the songs of the late Egyptian singer Oum Kalthoum.
The Facebook page of Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon wrote on December 27: “Diva: Celebrating Oum Kalthoum” is organized by the Israeli Ariel Efraim Ashbel. Your collaboration with an Israeli is a normalization. Please withdraw from this event!”
The Lebanese-based BDS group is active on Twitter and Facebook in Arabic, French and English.
Annika Frahm, the spokeswoman for the Berlin theater Hebbel am Ufer (HAU), where the performances are taking place, told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday: “We absolutely do not sympathize with BDS and would in no way embrace BDS or something similar.”
Frahm said Ashbel was not reachable today because the performance is slated to begin this evening.
A telephone operator at the HAU, where Ashbel is performing, told the Post on Saturday that “both performances are sold out.”
Kalthoum (1904-1975) was widely considered as one of the greatest Middle East singers. Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat inaugurated a street after the singer in 2012 in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina in Jerusalem.
Before the Six Day War in 1967, Kalthoum lashed out at Israel on Radio Cairo and Radio Damascus, singing: “Slaughter, slaughter, slaughter and have no pity... toward the Zionist Israeli.” Kalthoum was a loyal supporter of the Egyptian anti-Israel strongman Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Ashbel, who was born in 1982, lives in Berlin and graduated in 2006 from the School of Visual Theater in Jerusalem. He also has a degree in history and philosophy from the University of Tel Aviv. According to his biography, his artistic work concentrates on “interdisciplinary structures” of dance, theater, music and exhibits.
The artist “won the Acre festival prize for alternative theater in 2003, scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation in 2003/4, 2004/5, 2005/6 and 2007/8, the Mayor of Jerusalem and the Hazira Performance Art Center Prize in 2006, the ‘Legacy’ Foundation scholarship in 2007,” his biography says on the HAU theater’s website.
Ashbel was an associate artistic director of the “IntimaDance” festival for contemporary dance and performance at the Tmuna Theater in Tel Aviv.
After a series of Post exposés on the growing BDS movement in Berlin, the mayor of the city pledged to crackdown on boycott-Israel activity throughout the capital.
Michael Muller, Berlin’s Social Democratic mayor, said in September that the BDS tactics of “standing with antisemitic signs in front of Berlin shops” are the functional equivalent of “the intolerable methods used in the Nazi era.”
He added, “We will do everything in our power to prevent the use of our venues and funds for BDS’s anti-Israel incitements” and against the annual Iranian regime-sponsored Al-Quds Day demonstration, an antisemitic rally in Berlin that calls for the elimination of the Jewish state. The rally was initiated by the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1979.