Show Goes On For Israelis At Edinburgh Festival

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This time, they were ready.

Three years after a large, raucous anti-Israel protest effectively ran them out of town, the Incubator Theater returned to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this week.

But it didn’t come alone.

The group appeared starting Tuesday as part of the International Shalom Festival, which provided a framework, and they even brought with them activists from the Reservists on Duty group to provide backup and support.

And when the three-day Shalom Festival kicked off, there were a couple of dozen protesters outside, but the artists knew they weren’t going to be intimidated.

“There have been some demonstrators outside,” said Hadar Galron, the artistic director of the Shalom Festival.

“But I think on the whole the police outside have been almost as much as the amount of demonstrators,” she said.

And in addition to the police, four activists from Reservists on Duty, an NGO that works to counter BDS efforts, were on hand.

“This is what we do,” said Jonathan Elkhoury, a Lebanese Christian who works with the group and flew to Scotland to offer support.

“If we have any Israelis or any Jews or pro-Israelis who are having events and people who are trying to shut down their events, we’re going to be there to support them, and to make them feel like they have support,” he said.

Elkhoury, who fled from Lebanon to Israel in 2001 at age nine, said a couple dozen protesters gathered the first day of the festival with loud shouts and megaphones.

Reservists on Duty didn’t try to shut them down, said Elkhoury, “because we’re not like that.”

Instead, he said, “we came there with our Israeli flags…

to show a bit of support to the festival and to make a presence that we are there, that we are not silenced, that we will not be afraid to talk anymore.”

Amit Deri, the executive director of Reservists on Duty, said they sent a delegation of four people to the festival a couple days before it began, “to get ready.”

Deri said the group planned for every possible outcome, since “this time we didn’t want them to succeed in canceling the shows.”

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