BDS: Apologies and declining funds

January 14, 2022 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Sydney Festival BDS affair trundles along well after the last performance sponsored by the Israeli embassy closed its run on Sunday.

The Guardian reported: “In an interview with Guardian Australia on Thursday, the Festival’s Chair David Kirk issued a public apology, saying he regrets the distress to artists that the controversy over the sponsorship decision had caused.

Kirk admitted that the festival board was unaware of the sponsorship deal until he noticed the Israeli government logo on the festival program in late November.”

Yet later media reports revealed that the Festival had approached the embassy for sponsorship.

Many Sydney community members have written to the Belvoir Theatre which has refused funds from the Festival.

Barrister Irving Wallach told J-Wire: “I was contacted by Belvoir and they recognise they have fallen between two stools and want to make peace. They now certainly regret their decision to become involved.”

When interviewed yesterday on RN Breakfast by Hamish MacDonald, BDS organiser Sara Saleh admitted there had been bullying and pressure but that others, not them, were responsible for it.”

Wallach had written to the theatre stating “In the course of boycotting Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, neither Belvoir nor the BDS organisers have ever explained how anyone’s safety has ever been compromised. This is even more so, as BDS excludes all Israelis including anyone in its peace camp and who believes in a Palestinian state alongside Israel – such as myself.”

A publicist for the Belvoir told J-Wire: “Confirming that Belvoir didn’t receive any funds from Sydney Festival or boycott the Festival. They elected to remain in the Festival and self-fund Black Brass.”

In the meantime, Senator Eric Abetz who is the Chair of the Parliamentary Friend of Israel said: “Several comedians and other performances are among 27 events that have ignorantly boycotted the Sydney Festival due to the Israeli Embassy providing$20,000 in sponsorship for the dance performance Decadance – created by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin.

Predictably, Hamas, the antisemitic terrorist organisation that has long engaged in military conflict against Israel and fervently wishes for its obliteration, recently came out in support of the boycott.

‘We declare our solidarity with the participants who have withdrawn from the festival, and we call on all participants to raise their voices in the face of oppression and injustice,’ said the organisation responsible for dozens of suicide bombings against the Israeli people and throwing opponents off high rise buildings.

When you have terrorists backing in your argument, you should know you have lost the argument and any moral authority.

One of the lead organisers absurdly said the sponsorship “…normalises human rights abuses and it allows Israel to gain publicity out of a cultural institution.” To believe that Israeli sponsorship of a dance performance “normalises human rights abuses” would be laughable if such a false and inflammatory opinion wasn’t taken so seriously by the boycotters.

The boycott adds nothing to the immensely complicated situation between Israel and Palestine. It displays ignorance of Israel and its people and what the Sydney Festival performance can achieve, including bringing people together from different nations and cultures.

Israel has a distinguished record of being a light in the Middle East for democracy, the rule of law and human rights. The boycotters would be well served to honestly recognise these facts.

The boycott is a regrettable distraction from, and a profound ignorance of, the real efforts to bring peace and stability between Israel and Palestine.”

Surinder Jain, Hindu Council of Australia has blogged: “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Australia is a vehemently anti-Israel organization which rejects the very idea of Israel as a State in which the Jewish people, after centuries of dispossession and persecution, once again control their own lives and future. And now some BDS leaders are trying to bring that conflict here.”

Indigenous Friends of Israel website states: “Israel is not a racist, apartheid state. Arab citizens living in Israel have the right to vote and there are Arab MKs i.e., members of the parliament or Knesset. Why is it that the only democracy in the Middle East is so maligned? The answer is antisemitism.

It seems that the Israeli embassy’s sponsorship of the Sydney Dance Company, whose choreographer is Israeli, was enough to threaten the “cultural safety” of Palestinian participants in the festival, according to ‘The Belvoir Street Theatre’.”


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