Sadler’s Wells performer ‘made Jewish children cry’ with diatribe against Israel

Sasha Mahfouz Shadid
The hip hop artist demanded to know if they had ever been to Israel, it has been claimed - Dave Barros

Jewish children were left in tears after an ‘aggressively pro-Palestine’ hip hop artist demanded to know if they had ever been to Israel, it has been claimed.

The dance performance by Sasha Shadid is said to have left many in the audience feeling intimidated, with claims that several Jewish children were left traumatised.

It came during Sadler’s Wells’ Breakin’ Convention earlier this month, during what was billed as the world’s biggest festival of hip-hop dance theatre.

Shadid’s performance was promoted by Sadler’s Wells as “a love letter to the values inspired by his Palestinian father, full of harsh realities through a British Palestinian lens, performed by one body personifying an interpretation of characters from The Wizard of Oz to reflect the inner unity and outer isolation”.

But many Jewish families in the audience have complained about his act, some of which was performed in Arabic and saw Shadid at one point waving a Palestinian flag.

Sadler's Wells Theatre & the Lilian Baylis Studio, Rosebery Avenue, Islington, London,
Many Jewish families in the audience have complained about his act, some of which was performed in Arabic - D Hale-Sutton / Alamy Stock Photo

The families approached UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) which has now lodged a formal complaint with Sir Alistair Spalding, Artistic Director and Co-Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells.

An aggressively anti-Israel act sparked fury at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre as Jewish children were left in tears.

UKLFI that during the supposedly family-friendly event on Sunday, May 5, Shadid spoke about Israel murdering a child and at one point asked the audience: “Have you been to Israel?”.

Jewish families in the audience told UKLFI that they felt vilified by his aggressive line of questioning.

At the end of the performance Shadid, who has previously performed with Craig David and Clean Bandit and appeared in dance shows at the National Theatre and Wembley Stadium, returned to the stage with a Palestinian flag, which resulted in a huge cheer of support from a large section of the audience.

‘Victimised and harassed’

At this point several Jewish children are understood to have left the theatre in tears, feeling they had been “singled out as Jews or Zionists and felt victimised and harassed”.

UKLFI said the Jewish families were particularly upset given that the theatre performance was on Yom Hashoah - the date in the Jewish calendar for Jews around the world to mourn the loss of the six million Jewish people murdered during the Holocaust.

UKLFI’s letter to Sir Alistair claims there were breaches of the Equality Act 2010 during the Breakin’ Convention, showing that Jewish, Israeli and Zionist members of the audience were harassed and subject to detriment.

The host and curator of the Breakin’ Convention, Jonzi D, has helped launch the “Academy Breakin’ Convention” hip-hop dance school, which will form part of the new Sadler’s Wells East, scheduled to be opened later this year in East London.

‘Prejudiced against others’

UKLFI says it fears the venue could be used to promote Jonzi D and other performers’ “strong views about Israel and Palestine”.

Caroline Turner, director of UKLFI said: “While it is wonderful that Sadler’s Wells is promoting new and evolving forms of dance, to attract and include diverse audiences, it needs to be careful that it does not discriminate against other members of the audience.

“Similarly, Sadler’s Wells’ new dance school in East London may be aimed at attracting a wider circle of students, but should not be prejudiced against others, and certainly should not teach hateful and divisive political views to its pupils.”

Both Sadler’s Wells and Sasha Shadid have been approached for comment.

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