Sydney theatre rejects Jewish production

March 22, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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A Sydney theatre has refused to rent its premises to a Jewish group on the grounds that their policy “does not support colonialism/Zionism”.

redrattler400In a brief email response to Shailee Mendelevich who wrote requesting to book the Red Rattler Theatre in Marrickville, ‘Red Rattler Team’ responded: “Our policy does not support colonialism/Zionism.  Therefore we do not host groups that support the colonisation and occupation of Palestine.”

Mendelevich wrote to the theatre in her capacity as assistant director of Hillel at Sydney’s Shalom Institute. She told them in her letter that Hillel is not for profit organisation telling them “we have created a live storytelling series that features poetry, musicians and actors on stage, creating meaningful
performances to educate the audience on the theme of the evening”.

She explained that Hillel “supports Jewish students and young adults.”


Shailee Mendelevich

The matter was referred to The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies whose CEO Vic Alhadeff wrote to Red Rattler.

Alhadeff told J-Wire: ” I wrote a respectful letter to the theatre, saying I would like to discuss the matter in order to resolve misconceptions on the part of their team – about the organisation which had approached them and about the position of the Jewish community in regard to Palestine and about Israel itself. ”

He added in his communication to the theatre: “To categorically reject an approach by a Jewish organisation to hire your premises because of a political position that your team holds in relation to an overseas conflict is at best ill-informed and at worst racist and discriminatory.

Alhadeff told J-Wire: ” Despite several calls to the theatre with a request to discuss and resolve the matter and explain Hillel’s and the community’s position on these issues, I have  received no response either to my letter or to several calls to the theatre.”

He added: “It’s sad to see an artistic group practise outright discrimination and worse, importing divisiveness based on conflicts taking place far from Australia. We ought to be able to get along and work with each respectfully, despite political views or differences of opinion.”


20 Responses to “Sydney theatre rejects Jewish production”
  1. Eleonora Mostert says:

    It must be Groundhog Day again…. or is it always Groundhog Day when it comes to Israel.. Same old same old. A few days ago I watched a video of al Wahwah in Sydney, not sure if anyone had the guts to send a copy to Counter Terrorist Hot Line in fear of getting their hands dirty… But I did. As for Jack Chrapots comment of finding another venue, you can’t hide for the rest of your life or stick your head in the sand… (also known as Ostrich syndrome) get a backbone and fight back, even if it’s only with words.

  2. David V says:

    The rank hypocrisy of the multicultural and “anti-racist” Left never ceases to amaze. In their hatred of Western civilisation, they are willing to resurrect anti-Semitism in a new form. They care little for Muslims other than to use them as pawns in seeking to destroy their own civilisation. Muslims are apparently victims of Western “imperialism” and “racism”, except obviously, when they are victims of regimes like Syria and Iran (which fiercely persecutes minorities), or in the Soviet Union, Ethiopia and China under Communism. Clearly they are not pro-Muslim, but anti-Anglo, anti-Jewish and anti-Western.

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    I agree with Gil Solomon, Vic. One needs to stick to the relevant point here, not get sucked into explanation and/or mollifying. These people need to be forced to confront what they are doing; the minute you start down the track you have with distancing Australian Jews from Israeli action and reassuring our stance for a two-state solution, you’re playing their game. Ineffectually, too, because it won’t make a blind bit of difference. (Fact is, as Netanyahu said recently, all the circumstances have changed and a two-state solution is not a goer at all in the present climate. Our leaders such as you and ECAJ keep spouting (don’t mean disrespect here, but am becoming so sick of it) the old ‘we believe in a two-state solution’ paradigm despite this. If you do want to speak of it, at least make it conditional on what we all know is necessary to it. Jewish organisations need to lift their act here and stop with their pacifying manner – it will only bring contempt and disdain from those who will not under any circumstances be pacified and it’s a poor reflection on Australian Jews who are supposedly being represented.)

    Getting back to the Red Rattler rejection of Hillel:

    1. The Sydney Theatre involved no doubt consider themselves to be under the category of the Arts rather than Politics. The Red Rattler Theatre Group in Marrickville, as a not for profit organisation, will have funding from somewhere. There will be conditions attached to that funding and the raison d’etre associated with it will be arts orientated, not political. So apart from complaint of discrimination to appropriate bodies, this aspect should also be examined and acted upon by formal complaint to the funding body. Let them act as a Theatre if they wish to be a Theatre, allowing access to all, or let them fold.

    2. Art allows the opportunity to transcend politics, and religion; that’s its unique strength. The Red Rattler Team need reminding of this. If Hillel, or anyone else, want to stage a play the theme of which is Hamas/Fatah attacks on Israel (Day in the Life of an Israeli family in a kibbutz near Gaza, or Sderot et al) with reference to a Charter calling for Israel’s annihilation, then that should be allowed. Absolutely, it should. At the same time, a play with the theme of effects on a family in Gaza of the ongoing conflict should also be allowed. But – big but – only if it’s art, and that means no propaganda. There’s a huge difference and it’s easily discernible. What comes from the heart and soul of a person due to experience and affiliation, written and performed as artform is not propaganda. This is where Art is so different and has so much to offer, and the Red Rattler Team should know that.

    3. I don’t know why some contributor posts appear to be searching for other possible reasons behind rejection of Hillel – it’s already been categorically stated as Red Rattler Team policy ‘not supporting colonialism/Zionism, nor the colonisation and occupation of Palestine’. And I also don’t think it matters how many theatres there are in Sydney who might be willing to do business with Hillel. It does matter that this particular one is exposed in the art world, and to the community at large, for what they are doing. Turn a blind eye and others will follow.

    • Gil Solomon says:


      Thanks for the endorsement of my comments.

      While I have received some flak over what I wrote, I stand by my comments, as they go to the heart of what passes for supposed Jewish leadership in this country, a leadership which maintains the head bowed, politically correct status quo for fear of rocking the boat.

      It’s time that the constitution of various bodies be radically amended to accommodate an electoral process that allows for the nomination to senior positions to be open to the general community.

      The current process of electing within deputies etc. needs to go.

    • Leon Poddebsky says:

      Logic dictates that people of good will who are really interested in a peaceful resolution stop using the term “two-state solution.”
      There are two main reasons for my position:
      1. How on earth can any one predict if a proposal or idea or notion will be a solution before it has been tested?
      It does not make sense.
      Let’s call it a “two-state plan or idea or proposal.”
      If you call it a solution, the uninformed and the malicious will argue that the only thing necessary for peace to break out is for Israel to contract to indefensible lines. And presto…peace!
      2. A de facto Arab “Palestinian” state exists; it is called Gaza and is ruled by Hamas.
      How successful has that solution been?

  4. Michael Beaudoin says:

    This is outrageous. A complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission citing discrimination is justified and will be taken seriously, in my experience.

    • Michael Stanton says:

      Hillel’s motto is “Wherever we stand, we stand with Israel”. The Red Rattler owners believe that the state of Israel is oppressing the Palestinian people, and therefore does not wish to facilitate functions by organisations supporting this position. This is nothing to do with racism, and everything to do with international politics. Perhaps Hillel could widen their support for not only Jewish students, but Palestinian ones as well?

  5. robert whitehill says:

    Doesn’t support colonialism? What is Australia but a colonialist outpost of Britain???

  6. david baden says:

    If, then, a muslim community group wished to hire the theatre,we presume then that they would also be rejected due to the managements rejection of horrific Islamic extremism both at home and abroad!

  7. Gil Solomon says:

    Vic I take issue with your “respectful” response to this issue. There is a raging war going on against the Jewish community and by your response you obviously fail to comprehend this. To put it bluntly, you appear incapable of going on the offensive.

    You go on about “in regard to Palestine” and by these words give credence to a country that does not now and never has existed!

    Then you rebuke them for their stance on a conflict “far from Australia.”
    What has being far from Australia got to do with defending Israel’s position and Jewish concerns? If you understand the falseness of the so called “Palestinian” narrative you should be capable of going on the offensive and rebuking the basis of the theatre’s reasons for denying Hillel’s request, in short tearing the theatre’s response about Colonialism/Zionism to shreds. But no, you appear to want to go cap in hand begging understanding from this lot.

    Now is the time to state to these people that if they are not prepared to let out their venue to a Jewish group then so be it but at the same time to categorically state that the Jewish community is strongly opposed to their erroneous stance on the Middle East and their acceptance of the false so called “Palestinian” narrative. Now is not the time to go pleading for a meeting. I would have stated to them that if they ever wanted to have an understanding of the facts, rather than believe the propaganda they are fed on a daily basis by a biased media, then your door is opened to dialogue.

    In summary, your response to this is at best diplomatic and at worst defeatist. You appear not to know how to fight and get your hands dirty if necessary.

  8. harry rich says:

    Could it be that the rejection had something to do with the fact that the theater is located in Marickville where the Council supported the BDS movement some time ago ?

  9. Henry Herzog says:

    Ira PhD is right. We don’t know what the theme of the performance was. If the rejection was because a Jewish group wanted to hire the theatre, then the theatre should be taken to task under any number of racial discrimination laws that exist. The only legitimate reason why the Hillel group could have been rejected was if they were promoting the establishment of more Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

    • Leon Poddebsky says:

      No; that would be a highly illegitimate and immoral act, based on the lie of “illegal occupation,” a lie that is easily refuted and was refuted concisely and brilliantly by the late Professor Julius Stone, among others.
      His work, “Assault on the Law of Nations” is a classic.
      Over the decades his position has been supported by a host of international lawyers such as Lauterpacht, Kontorovich, Riebenfeld .
      It is ironic that latter-day settlers living comfortably on usurped land all over the world lecture the People of Israel about living in the ancestral home, which was internationally acknowledged and recognised in law as far back as 1922, the home that has never been renounced and in which the nation has continually had a presence despite horrendous adversity.

  10. Peter Liberal says:

    This is totally racist, bigoted left wing fools sucked in by a leftist media propaganda sharia compliant bunch of tools

  11. Alan Baden says:

    I would expect the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies lodge a compliant to the appropriate authority citing racial/political discrimination.

  12. Melanie America says:

    Next will they stop Jews from attending their theatre?

  13. Ira Seidenstein, PhD says:

    The article doesn;t mention ‘the theme of the night’. It is easy to imagine that it is possible ‘the theme of the night’ may be part of the reason for the declination of the venue?

    • David Schulberg says:

      Shailee Mendelevich said the performances consisted of a story­telling series on the last generation to have direct contact with surviv­ors of the Holocaust.

      From ‘The Australian’ today:

      A SYDNEY theatre has refused a booking from a Jewish cultural group in a potential breach of race-discrimination laws.

      Hilel, a not-for-profit Jewish educational and cultural organisation for students and young adults, approached The Red ­Rattler Theatre in Marrickville, in Sydney’s inner west, about hiring the venue for a series of performances dealing with the Holocaust.

      Their inquiry was dismissed with an unsigned email that read: “Our policy does not support ­colonialism/Zionism. Therefore we do not host groups that support the colonisation and occu­pation of Palestine.”

      The response has left the NSW Jewish community shocked and distressed.

      Shailee Mendelevich, who approached the theatre on behalf of Hilel, said racial backgrounds or religious views should not leave anyone feeling “dimin­ished”.

      Ms Mendelevich said the performances consisted of a story­telling series on the last generation to have direct contact with surviv­ors of the Holocaust.

      NSW Jewish Board of Deput­ies chief executive Vic Alhadeff told The Australian: “It’s sad to see an artistic group practise outright discrimination and, worse, impor­ting divisiveness based on conflicts taking place far from Australia. We ought to be able to get along and work with each respectfully, despite political views or differences of opinion.”

      Mr Alhadeff has written to the theatre, explaining that the group is apolitical. He has also reiterated the board’s support for a two-state solution in the Middle East that would lead to the establishment of an independent Palestine.

      No response has been received to Mr Alhadeff’s letter or phone calls to the theatre. The Red Rattler management did not respond to a request for comment from The Australian yesterday.

      The Greens-dominated Marrick­ville council was at the centre of controversy in 2010 when it attempted to implement a policy supporting the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which explicitly equates the Jewish state with apartheid-era South Africa.

    • gabrielle gouch says:

      Exactly. Partial info is worse than no info

  14. Jack Chrapot says:

    I was in Sydney recently.

    It’s a big city.

    Must be plenty of theatres there to put on an artistic performance without having to kowtow to bigotry.

    Find another theatre, don’t give this crowd and their creed any further oxygen and make a mental note for all community organisations to steer clear in the future.

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