AMMAN — Fadi Abu Jabal was never involved in anti-normalisation activities, but a recent visit to Palestine pushed him to find any way he could to express solidarity with the Palestinians.
"My interest in this issue grew after I visited Palestine and personally saw the suffering that the Palestinians are undergoing," the political science student told The Jordan Times.
One of the first activities the 20-year-old participated in was a human-chain protest on Tuesday to call for a cultural boycott of Israel.
Around 70 activists gathered near Al Hussein Youth City to reject a performance by Cirque du Soleil in Amman, in protest against its planned shows in Tel Aviv in August.
The Canada-based international circus troupe began its performances of "Saltimbanco" on Tuesday and is scheduled to perform five more shows through Saturday at Al Hussein Youth City’s Prince Hamzah Hall.
The first show went on without incident, attracting a large audience and generating "good feedback", organisers said on Wednesday.
"An efficient boycott must include all aspects: academic, political, cultural and economic," Abu Jabal said at the protest, adding that boycotting Israel helps spread awareness on "the atrocities committed by the occupation".
"I study at a university in Germany. My friends there now know more about the Palestinian issue because I explained to them why I boycott Israeli products," he noted.
The Jordanian Popular Boycott Movement, which organised the protest, rejects Cirque du Soleil's performance in Israel because it gives an image to the international community that there is no issue of occupation and that Israel is a natural component of the region, according to member Hisham Bustani.
The movement has approached Cirque du Soleil, organisers Friends of Jordan Festivals (FJF) and the main sponsor Umniah to call for cancelling the shows in Tel Aviv.
They met with FJF Executive Director Souha Bawab and had a "transparent and candid" discussion.
In a previous interview with The Jordan Times, Bawab said she conveyed the movement's concerns to the circus troupe, which did not give an official response.
"We have done what we can this past month, and at this stage we cannot really change anything. What we can do is raise awareness on the importance of cultural boycott," Bustani, an author and a dentist, told The Jordan Times.
He was distributing brochures detailing the movement's stances to vehicles on the street, many of which were heading to attend Tuesday's performance.
Some motorists chose to ignore the activist, while others took a copy of the brochure but went on to attend "Saltimbanco".
"We are not trying to stop anyone from going to the circus; we are simply trying to promote a method of resistance that does not cost people anything," Bustani noted.
The protesters gathered near the VIP entrance to Prince Hamzah Hall, calling on vehicles to turn back and boycott the performance.
Several cars turned back, while some passengers and motorists reportedly ripped their tickets upon finding out about the shows in Israel.
"Around five cars or so turned back after we spoke to the motorists and passengers," Rand Wahbeh, a member of the boycott movement, said.
Businessman Bashar Bustami, who was taking his daughter to see the show when the protesters spoke to him, decided against attending the performance when he found out that Cirque du Soleil will perform in Tel Aviv.
"Your ticket is worth a family's salary," activist Akram Hmoud, 25, shouted at cars headed to Prince Hamzah Hall.
But other protesters argued with the engineer that it was not an issue of money.
"Even if the ticket cost JD2 we would still call for this boycott," activist Touleen Touq told Hmoud.
Ticket prices for "Saltimbanco" range between JD25 and JD80, while a VIP ticket costs JD150.
Veteran actress and activist Juliet Awad criticised the presence of several government vehicles at the venue.
"We as citizens are paying for these vehicles' fuel. They are not supposed to be used after 3:00pm," she said.
Bustani said such events bridge the gap between activists and other members of the public.
"When people see that a political activist is just like any other person, talking and laughing with them, this removes a barrier," he noted.