Tell Sydney Festival 2022 not to take money from apartheid Israel
BDS Australia has written to the Sydney Festival and to the Sydney Dance Company regarding their acceptance of sponsorship by the Israeli government. We are calling for this sponsorship to be rejected because of Israel’s ongoing crimes against Palestinians and its use of sponsorships like this to attempt to artwash these crimes.
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BDSA meeting with Chair and Executive Director of Sydney Festival
Dec 18, 2021 —
As a result of BDS Australia’s recent letter and request to meet with the Sydney Festival due to their acceptance of sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy for one of the forthcoming festival performances, a BDS Australia representatives met with the Chair of the Sydney Festival, David Kirk MBE and Chris Tooher, Executive Director, Sydney Festival on Friday Dec 17th.
We presented information on the grave human rights violations and ongoing breaches of international law by Israel in relation to Palestinians and gave an overview of BDS and the PACBI (cultural and academic) guidelines.
We called on the Festival to review its sponsorship deal with Israel and to take a public and ethical stand in support of Palestinian rights.
In response, the Festival representatives explained that as a result of the concerns which had been raised with them not only from BDSA but also other Palestinian advocacy organisations and artists, they were seriously re-evaluating their processes for seeking sponsorships for festival performances . They expressed concern that this issue had caused a number of artists contracted to perform at this Festival, to threaten to withdraw from and boycott the 2022 Festival.
We asked that they use the human rights framework of the UN Global Compact when re-evaluating their processes. We also explained that BDS was not antisemitic.
They acknowledged our concerns and expressed their intention to review their approach to sponsorships which will be taken up in their next board meeting shortly
Letter from BDS Australia Dec 2, 2021
Letter to: Olivia Ansell
cc: Lizzi Nicoll
Deputy Executive Director
Sydney Dance Company
We write to express our deep concern at the 2022 Festival of Sydney’s acceptance of sponsorship from the Israeli government via the Israeli Embassy, Canberra as a Star Partner and as a sponsor of the Sydney Dance Company’s festival event, Decadance.
The signatories to this letter are members of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Australia which supports the 2005 call by 170 Palestinian civil society organisations for BDS as a peaceful and non-violent means to pressure the State of Israel to end the illegal military occupation and colonisation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem from 1967; to end the crippling blockade of Gaza which has been in operation since 2006; and to allow the internationally recognized Right of Return to Palestinian refugees to the land and homes from which Israel forcibly expelled them in 1948; and to ensure equal rights for all Palestinians living in Israel according to international law and human rights conventions.
Arts, culture, and politics cannot be separated. Israel funds cultural events and ambassadors to ‘art-wash’ the human rights violations it perpetrates against the Palestinians by presenting itself as a normal ‘democracy’ and one which can be accepted internationally, despite its ongoing grave violations of human rights and international law. This is a conscious policy of the Israeli government. Nissim Ben-Shitrit, former Deputy Director General at the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry has said: “We regard culture as a hasbara [propaganda] tool of the highest order, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture”.
Israel has progressively taken large tracts of land which are internationally recognized as Palestinian land – dispossessing successive generations from their rights and maintaining a brutal military occupation which imprisons thousands of civilians including children and condones the unlawful and frequent killing of civilians. It has maintained a blockade of Gaza which has destroyed the local economy and denied freedom of movement to millions of people. It has engaged in largescale attacks against civilians in Gaza, killing and maiming tens of thousands in the last 13 years. It practices apartheid against Palestinians in Israel and throughout the Occupied Territories and is subject to countless UN resolutions condemning these violations of international law which are documented by many international, Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations.
The apartheid nature of the state of Israel has been recently documented by Israel’s most prominent human rights organisation, B’tselem and also Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
We ask that you seriously reconsider the Sydney Festival’s association with the State of Israel and stand with the Palestinian people and with international law by refusing to accept any sponsorships from or collaborations with Israel until such time as Palestine is free.
We ask that you share this letter with the Festival’s Board of Directors, and we look forward to your response.
We would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and to discuss this matter further.
BDS Australia on behalf of the following member organisations:
- Australians for Palestine (AFP) VIC
- Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) SA
- Australian Palestinian Professionals Association (APPA) NSW
- Australian Students for BDS (ASBDS)
- Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (CJPP) NSW
- Federation of Italian Migrant Workers and their Families (FILEF) NSW
- Friends of Hebron (FOH) NSW
- Friends of Palestine WA (FOPWA) WA
- General Union of Palestinian Workers NSW
- Justice for Palestine, Meanjin (Brisbane) (JFP) QLD
- Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network (PIEN)
- Women for Palestine