Zionist Federation of Australia President Jeremy Leibler has written to the Board of the Sydney Festival, thanking them for their principled stance in the face of an unprecedented campaign of intimidation against the Board, artists and audience, due to the participation of an Israeli act and sponsorship by the Israeli Embassy.
In his letter, Mr Leibler wrote, “Boycott organisers have spread easily disproven lies about Israel – including allegations of genocide and apartheid – and even claimed that by including an Israeli act, the Festival is excluding Palestinians and other Arabs. This is both errant nonsense and worrying proof that the objective of those calling for a boycott is not a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians, but a future without Israel.”
The BDS movement, to which the boycott organisers subscribe, is founded on a vision of a future without Israel. It is not a peace movement, but one that foments conflict, both here in Australia and between Israelis and Palestinians.
The Sydney Festival should be a safe space to celebrate the artistry and gifts of all peoples, including Israelis andPalestinians. Instead, the boycott organisers have attempted to make the Festival culturally unsafe for anyone who believes in freedom of speech, and the freedom to have differences of opinion. It is appalling behaviour and the the Jewish community condemns it outright.
After thanking the Board for their courage and conviction in not succumbing to the intimidation and bullying behaviour, Mr Leibler noted, “If vitally important civil society organisations such as the Sydney Festival cave into campaigns from these extremist groups, it will only encourage them to continue this behaviour. We have seen throughout history that while these campaigns start with Israel and the Jewish people, they very rarely end there.”