Monday 17 January 2022 - 11:42

Jewish Signatories Endorse Boycott of Sydney Festival over ‘Art Washing’ of Israeli Apartheid

Story Code : 974072
Jewish Signatories Endorse Boycott of Sydney Festival over ‘Art Washing’ of Israeli Apartheid
Signed by more than 70 Jewish organizations and individuals, the letter called on people around the world to take a stand in solidarity with Palestinians and in refusal of Israeli propaganda, presstv reported.

“Following the lead of Palestinian organizers, we know that we cannot allow this art-washing to work as intended. Rather than staying silent we want to say loudly: Israeli apartheid, settler-colonialism, and occupation cannot be allowed to continue,” said the open letter. 

“Israel engages in daily violence, from the violence of the military courts, checkpoints, settlements, murders, land theft and daily harassment of Palestinian communities in the West Bank; to the siege on Gaza and airstrikes; to the attacks on East [Al-Quds] in May 2021 and the differential treatment of Palestinians and Jews,” it added.

Signing organizations included Loud Jew Collective, Jews Against Fascism, Hue, Jews against the Occupation Sydney, Tzedek Collective, and Independent Australian Jewish Voices.

The letter also said boycotts are a “non-violent and effective tool for exposing these kinds of injustices and helping us take a stand against it”.

“Solidarity works. Countering colonialism – wherever and whenever it occurs – works. We are dedicated to working alongside Indigenous people everywhere, to amplifying their voices and knowledge in the fight against colonialism,” the letter said.

The rebuke against the festival is in line with the wider Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories, ensure equal rights for Palestinian citizens, and allow the return of Palestinian refugees.

Dozens of artists have withdrawn from the 2022 Sydney Festival over a $20,000 Israeli embassy sponsorship of the Sydney Dance Company production of Decadance, a work devised by Tel Aviv choreographer Ohad Naharin.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Sydney festival board member Benjamin Law announced his resignation following the festival’s refusal to terminate the Israeli embassy sponsorship.

Law expressed regret over putting Sydney Festival artists and arts workers “in a position where you may have had to choose between your work and values, or thrust into conversations for which you may have felt unprepared”.

Context, he said, is sometimes missed in the discourse around the boycott.

Referring to the Israeli regime’s 11-day war on the besieged Gaza Strip in May last year, which killed at least 260 Palestinians, he said, “This funding, the boycott and the resulting conversation around it doesn’t exist in a vacuum.”