SBS language | Culture is a bridge to coexistence and should be kept out of the political arena.” Ron Gerstenfeld, Deputy Ambassador of Israel in response to Boycott at the Sydney Festival (English)
The artists boycotted the Sydney Festival in response to a $20,000 sponsorship deal with the Australian Israeli Embassy.
The festival has been embroiled in controversy after agreeing a $20,000 sponsorship deal with the Israeli Embassy to support the Sydney Dance Company’s production, Decadence, created by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin.
Withdrawals include comedians Tom Ballard and Nazeem Hussain, Indigenous cross-cultural dance theater company Marrugeku, Bankstown Poetry Slam and broadcaster Yumi Stynes, among others.
The theater production, Seven Methods Of Killing Kylie Jenner, also pulled their show, saying on Instagram that they “stand in solidarity with the Palestinian cause.”
Fahad Ali, organizer of the Palestine Justice Movement in Sydney, said “violations of human rights through art” were “not acceptable”.
“We told the artists, he said, “by accepting this sponsorship, they have created a dangerous environment for the Palestinian artists participating in the festival and for the general public”.
Pro-Israel advocates say the boycott is unnecessary and “doesn’t belong” in the art space.
Ron Gerstenfeld, Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to Canberra, told SBS: “Israel has always and will continue to promote cultural exchange and engage in cultural dialogue in many countries, including Australia”, “the culture is a bridge to coexistence, cooperation and rapprochement and should be left out of the political arena.”