Yoni Bashan and Christine Lacy, The Australian, 21 February 2023.
Law firm MinterEllison is in damage control and facing internal ructions from partners over its sponsorship of the Adelaide Festival and the platforming of two writers known for their unabashed hatred of Jews.
Margin Call has confirmed that MinterEllison chief executive Virginia Briggs has ordered the removal of all the firm’s branding from the Adelaide Festival’s Writers Week, despite its role as a major partner, following internal and external complaints over its funding of the event.
South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas has already spared no time vowing to boycott the speakers’ events and condemned the festival’s decision to host them; Briggs’ response, by comparison, is a meek and timid gesture.
The CEO did not respond to this column’s inquiries on Monday and, despite being urged to do so, has not issued a public statement outlining MinterEllison’s position on the hateful rhetoric of the speakers.
On Tuesday morning, MinterEllison confirmed it was removing its “presence and involvement” with the Adelaide Festival’s Writers Week, while axing its branding from the broader Festival program.
Margin Call understands that concerns had been raised by two partners at the firm who were supportive of taking action. Numerous Jewish employees, particularly among the graduate intake, are also understood to be displeased with the arrangement.
Briggs has also received formal complaints from Jeremy Leibler, partner at Arnold Bloch Leibler and president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, along with prominent business executive Jillian Segal, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, who spoke to Briggs directly about the matter.
It’s understood that Briggs was considering a move to direct funding away from Writers Week and channel it instead towards other festival programming.
Over at PwC, similar considerations are being weighed about its support for the festival following what an official called a “wide range of feedback” about the line-up of speakers. PwC is the festival’s pro-bono auditor, but unlike MinterEllison it is not a director sponsor.
A spokesman declined to comment when contacted.
The speakers in question, Mohammed El-Kurd and Susan Abulhawa, routinely publicise a malignant contempt for Jews on Twitter and, in the case of El-Kurd, a propensity to condone violence and celebrate terrorist attacks carried out on civilians.
El-Kurd’s gouts of bile include the detestable fabrication, outlined in 2021, that Israelis “harvest organs” of Palestinians; in a separate tweet that year he said: “I hate these pigs. I hope every one of them dies in the most torturous and slow ways. I hope that they see their mothers suffering.”
One would think these views might jar with the commitment to a safe working space championed on the MinterEllison website.
Surely this isn’t the brand of inclusivity that Briggs is hoping to amplify with her firm’s funding.
Meanwhile, Abulhawa routinely carries water for every edgelord on the internet by describing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a “depraved Zionist trying to ignite World War Three”, and cleaving to the belief that Ukraine should be de-Nazified.
She has described Zelensky as “more dangerous than Putin”.