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.
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.”