Art organizations boycott "Israel," withdraw from Sydney festival
As a Sydney arts festival accepts $20,000 from the Israeli embassy, artists pull out of the event and organizations call on a boycott.
As the Israeli 'diplomatic' mission in Sydney attempts to force its agenda through infiltrating into a Sydney arts festival, pro-Palestine organizations push back and call on the boycott of the festival.
The Israeli embassy is sponsoring the event with over $20,000 to stage a production of an Israeli choreographer, Ohad Naharin - Decadance - by the Sydney Dance Company.
Organizations and artists respond to the boycott: in addition to the withdrawal of 3 art organizations, Blake Prize-winner Khaled Sabsabi, Malyangapa and Barkaa - a rapper - South Asian dance company, Bindi Bosses, the Arab Theatre Studio and the Bankstown poetry slam and comedian Nazeem Hussain have withdrawn from the 2022 festival.
The Palestinian Justice Movement in Sydney revealed that the $20,000 deal was made in May this year, in the same month while "Israel" was airstriking Gaza, killing scores of Palestinian civilians.
Read our media release: Palestine Justice Movement Sydney joins other Palestine solidarity-organisations in calling on audiences and performers to boycott @sydney_festival this January. We're also calling on festival directors to refuse complicity w Israeli apartheid & resign. pic.twitter.com/AquadkgjdY— Palestine Justice Movement Sydney (@PalestineRising) December 22, 2021
“Palestine advocates call on all opponents of apartheid to boycott the 2022 Sydney Festival,” the statement said. “By partnering with Israel, Sydney festival will … contribute to the normalisation of an apartheid state.”
The coalition, which called for the boycott, included the Arab Australian Federation, Greens for Palestine, Independent Australian Jewish Voices, Jews against the Occupation Sydney, the Sydney representative for BDS and United Australian Palestinian Workers.
On Meanjin, an Australian literary journal, a group of artists and writers unified to write an open letter about how the Sydney festival was progressive for everything -- except for Palestine, dubbing "Israel" a settler-colonial apartheid regime. The artists called the partnership "disgraceful" and said the festival is “creating a culturally unsafe environment for Arab artists and audiences who want to be part of the festival but who now cannot, in good conscience, participate as they bear witness to the slaughter, occupation and oppression of Palestinians.”
However, none of this got the festival to back out: the spokesperson, in a statement to The Guardian Australia, said that the agreement with "Israel" will not be abolished. The alibi? The festival is a non-profit, non-political event.
However, while the festival throws claims on its 'political awareness' of minorities and diversity - which, by the way, are political issues - solidarity towards minorities is nil while the festival accepts funds from a colonial regime founded on Palestinian skeletons.
“How is it that the festival can reconcile its commitment to Indigenous solidarity here while legitimising and normalising relations with a settler colonial apartheid state that maintains a system of racism, subjugation and land theft against Palestinians?” the letter asked.
This is so incredibly disappointing. The arts, particularly for marginalised peoples are (for the most part), our political platforms. For an arts festival to claim they are apolitical is embarrassing to say the very least.— 💧Prof Anita Heiss (@AnitaHeiss) December 21, 2021
“For an arts festival to claim they are apolitical is embarrassing to say the very least,” writes Anita Heiss, a writer and academic.
"Israel's" attempt to depoliticize the event is one of the many tactics the apartheid regime uses to decontextualize systemic violence and genocide.