25 Feb 2014

Dance company head rejects protests

10:31 am on 25 February 2014

The artistic director of an Israeli dance company is defending its participation in the New Zealand Festival in Wellington following protests at the weekend.

Ohad Naharin, of the Batsheva dance company, says protesters who demanded on Saturday that people boycott its show are not achieving anything.

He says he agrees with them that there should be a two-state solution as soon as possible, but the protests only harmed the show and did nothing for the Palestinian cause.

Mr Naharin says there is nothing unusual about the troupe being sponsored by his country's culture ministry.

Two opposing protest groups faced off outside the performance in Wellington on Saturday. One, led by veteran actvist John Minto, called for the liberation of Palestine and for the performance to be boycotted.

The other was organised by David Zwartz from the Wellington Jewish community, who described as racist Mr Minto's accusations that Israel is an apartheid state.

Festival artistic director Shelagh Megadza says the protest had no useful outcome.