Indigenous Friends of Israel Rip Sydney Festival Boycotters While Asserting Jews are Indigenous to Israel
When a group of twenty-five or so performers and artists withdrew from the Sydney Festival because of the Israel embassy’s sponsorship of one of the performances, Indigenous Australian and former politician Warren Mundine AO was quick to respond.
Mundine addressed the accusations of apartheid, settler colonialism and genocide with a few pithy tweets, pointing out that Israel is in fact a democratic nation, where free and fair elections are held, where Israeli Arabs, Christians, Muslims and Jews sit as equals under the rule of law.
Indigenous Australian, Munganbana Norman Miller and Barbara Miller of the ‘Indigenous Friends of Israel’ also issued a press release refuting the settler colonial lie, asserting that Jews are the indigenous people of the land and recounting the 4,000 year history of Jewish connection to the land of Israel.
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’.
An open letter signed by “artists against apartheid” stated,
We will not perform in or attend a Festival where the Israeli regime rainbow-coloured logo is used to artwash the violence, ethnic cleansing, and crimes inflicted upon the Palestinian people.
The idea that art and culture might function as a bridge to co-existence and cooperation evidently didn’t occur to these artists. Instead they chose to interpret Israeli participation as ‘art-washing’ – using art for political purposes. Apparently the irony and hypocrisy of their statement was lost on them.
While it is unlikely that the boycotters’ actions will achieve much in real terms, they did attract the praise of the terrorist regime, Hamas, who stated,
We declare our solidarity with the participants who have withdrawn from the festival, and we call on all participants to raise their voices in face of oppression and injustice.
Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to these artists that they would not have the freedom to pursue their art under the repressive conditions of a Hamas-led regime while in Israel, Arab Israelis enjoy freedom of expression.
The BDS movement has as one of its goals the demonisation of Israel. Unfortunately, BDS is completely divorced from reality and achieves very little for Palestinians. In fact its actions have been shown to harm the plight of Palestinians.
As the Millers have stated,
Those who have boycotted the Sydney Festival have been misled and have aligned themselves with a murderous terrorist organization. And this is at a time when, through the Abraham Accords, there is increasing cultural and artistic exchange between Israel and Arab nations to promote peace and better understanding. Boycotts will not promote peace; only division.
What a great voice for Israel…in more ways than one.