Israeli performers have raised concerns about “growing anti-Semitism in the UK” as they returned to the Edinburgh Festival following an absence sparked by targeted protests.
The International Shalom Festival will bring Israeli performers to Edinburgh on Wednesday for the first time since 2014.
Organisers say Israeli arts companies were deterred from visiting Edinburgh last year “following targeted protests and demonstrations in 2012, and threats of disruption in 2014 to Israeli performers”.
They say the event has received no funding from the State of Israel, and the festival has received cross-party political support in Scotland.
Shalom Festival organiser Nigel Goodrich said: “This event has received absolutely no funding from the State of Israel, it is not financed by the Israeli embassy and we have not asked for a single shekel from them or any agency of the state of Israel itself.
“To be criticised as ‘Israeli State-sponsored’ is absurd and completely inaccurate.
“The Festival is about peace, and peace means dialogue, not violence.”
Performer Hadar Galron said: “We see and hear on Israeli media coverage about growing anti-Semitism in the UK so an event aimed at building cultural bridges left me feeling overwhelmed and touched.
“There’s an old Jewish proverb: ‘It takes a little light to banish darkness- but a little darkness cannot turn out the light’.”
SNP MSP John Mason said: “For too long people have jumped to support either Palestine or Israel with little concern for the other side. We need more events like this so we all have a better understanding of all sides in that region.”
Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw said: “The Edinburgh Festival is an opportunity for all to show their talents. It should not be a place for discrimination of one type of performer, Israeli.
“Too often in the past there have been problems with artists who may have received sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy being targeted.
“The Shalom Festival is a positive fightback.”