Video: Activists assaulted, arrested for protesting Israeli theater in Amsterdam

Eight activists were arrested after they disrupted a theater performance sponsored by the Israeli embassy in Amsterdam in protest of Israel’s recent assault on the Gaza Strip.

A ninth activist was arrested outside the theater as dozens more protested there.

As the video above shows, the protesters chanted “Free, free Palestine” and “Boycott, boycott Israel” before a one-woman show by Lia Koenig, the Polish-born “first lady of Israeli theater,” at the Theatre de Doelenzaal on 13 September.

The protesters were assaulted by other members of the audience. As one protester shouted, “This is not art, this is an occupation,” he was violently shoved and battered.


Koenig remained impassive throughout the protest, at one point sharing a laugh with Haim Divon, the Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands.

Several members of the Dutch parliament were in the audience, according to the newspaper NRC Handelsblad.

Once the protest was over, Koenig began her performance, joking “I’m honored they came to see me.” She did not address Israel’s massacre of more than one in every thousand Palestinians in Gaza this summer, including more than five hundred children.

“The action was a source of inspiration for Lia,” the show’s organizer Erga Netz told NRC Handelsblad, confirming Koenig’s apparent indifference. “In the rest of her show she made several jokes about it. She did not seem very affected,” Netz added.

No business as usual

Another video posted by Frank van der Linde, who participated in the protest inside the theater, explains and documents part of the action.

“After the third Gaza war and the announced annexation of another part of the West Bank, there will be no business as usual anymore,” he said. While the world remains silent, he added, “We do not!”

“We were immediately knocked down by security and audience, so we couldn’t film ourselves,” the captions in van der Linde’s video say, directing viewers to the separate video taken by a third party that is at the top of this post.

A screenshot shows an activist being restrained after protesting an Israel-sponsored theater performance in Amsterdam. 

Van der Linde’s video shows the moments after the action, as protesters are led down the theater’s stairs continuing to chant and to wave Palestinian flags.

One of the protestors, named in the video as Abulkasim al-Jaberi, is restrained by security guards and then seen being led away in handcuffs by police.

Van der Linde, an independent activist against the arms trade and for other justice issues, told The Electronic Intifada that eight of the protesters were held for several hours while al-Jaberi was held overnight and released on Sunday.

Van der Linde said that he expects charges related to disrupting a performance in a private venue to be filed.

Crossing a line?

Van der Linde noted that the Mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan had criticized the action, saying that protest was permissible but disruptions of a “cultural” event “went over the line.”

“My answer is that if Israel can violate international law all the time and the Netherlands and the West do nothing, then why can I not cross a line to demonstrate for a good cause?”

Contrary to the mayor’s statement, the event was not merely cultural. It had been promoted specifically as a pro-Israel event. “Be there to support Israel and the positive ideas it represents,” the show’s Facebook page urged.

Van der Linde stated that “the west is busy with the Islamic State, with Iran, with Russia. The war in Gaza is for the moment paused, it’s not over. If we don’t do something we will just be waiting for the next war.”






The fact that the Israeli actress did not appear distressed by the protests goes to illustrate her contempt for the lives of Palestinians. All praise to the protesters for their decency and intensity. In the end, it will be a public turn against the state of Israel's brutal occupation and oppression of the Palestinians that puts an end to this apartheid.


I applaud the courage of these protesters. The State of Israel uses "cultural" events such as this to persuade attendees not to condemn its brutality and racism, and to win support for the next phase in Zionism's violent dispossession of Palestinians. Until it's clear that every artist associated with that State and its indefensible crimes is unwelcome abroad, these actions will and must continue.


"Productions like these" succeed due to Israeli state funding, in the same way that colonies in the West Bank "succeed". If the price of registering disgust at Israel's oppressive policies is the purchase of a ticket, and the outcome is global BDS, then the cost will have been worth it. This show in the Netherlands has received world-wide attention thanks to the audience protests, and the movement is gaining support. That's real success.


Hoezeer ik de politiek van Israel ook afkeur, het verstoren van culturele uitingen buiten context, heeft geen pas. Dat is verschtieren om het verschtieren. Het kweekt alleen sympathie in eigen parochioie en daarbuiten stoot het voornamelijk af. Zo win je dus niemand voor de zaak, en dat was de bedoeling toch? Tip van mij: zoek de juiste veldslagen.


Die culturele uitingen, Rick, hadden wel degelijk een context, aangezien ze plaatsvonden als onderdeel van een politiek om de "positieve kanten" van Israel te laten zien en daarmee de aandacht af te leiden van al haar misdaden. De aankondiging van die theatervoorstelling als steun aan Israel spreekt wat dat betreft boekdelen, en het is ook officieel Israelisch regeringsbeleid, bekend als de "Brand Israel Campaign". Die kans mag Israel niet krijgen, we hebben deze theatervoorstelling aangegrepen om Israel al het onrecht en alle misdaden die het land begaat na te dragen en het (algemene) publiek daaraan te herinnneren! (Ik was een van de deelnemers aan de actie).

Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.