Australian Minister for the Arts Rips Sydney Festival Boycotters as Useful Idiots for Hamas
Paul Fletcher, Australian Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, has penned an editorial in The Australian. As the title – Festival boycott the futile work of ‘useful idiots’ – suggests, it is rather glorious.
But according to the self-appointed collective of artists who loudly proclaimed their boycott, the Sydney Festival had crossed a political red line.
The collective’s views about Israel are, to put it politely, difficult to reconcile with reality.
When Australians look at Israel, what they see is the only multi-party democracy in the Middle East – not an “apartheid state”. They see an ally and friend: a country with which Australia has excellent diplomatic relations and longstanding cultural and people-to-people ties.
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign is not supported by either of the major political parties. The principal cheerleader for this boycott has been Hamas, which is proscribed by the Australian government as a terrorist organisation.
Hamas controls Gaza – and notoriously deals with its opponents by throwing them alive off of tall buildings. Of course, the last thing Hamas cares about is a vigorous and lively artistic and creative scene in Australia. But it is surprising that a group of Australian performers and creatives would seek to sabotage one of Australia’s leading arts festivals.
It is doubly surprising that group would do so when the arts and creative sector has been hit hard by Covid, with performances cancelled, venues closed and artists losing their gigs.
To declare that a particular country is politically unacceptable, all association with it is forbidden, and the work of artists and creatives from that country is not welcome is utterly at odds with the achievement of artistic excellence.
The political significance of this propaganda action that advances the cause of Hamas has rightly been highlighted. Certainly, a lesson from political history is the role of the “useful idiot”, as Russian communists disparagingly termed their naive left-leaning sympathisers in other countries. Evidently, Hamas has some of its own useful idiots to call on.
Read the entire thing.