Luvvieland

Jews Are Dancing. Flee, Luvvies, Flee!

Quadrant readers, I should hope, will be unbothered by Tom Ballard’s absence from the Sydney Festival, as the humourless comedian, at the urging of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, has decided not to participate.

As I write, the list of withdrawals, 30 at last count, is sure to get longer and longer. At what I imagine would be the the panel discussion from hell, Yumi Stynes, Julia Banks and Louise Milligan were scheduled to bang on about the patriarchy and related themes until Stynes, also in solidarity with Palestine, pulled out. Again, for my readers, this may be the cause of amused cheer rather than annoyance.

That said, there is much in this campaign that we should find bothersome: the rebarbative manner in which it has been conducted, the pathetic non-effort by some in the media to question its claims, and what it all may foretoken for the cultural life of the country.

To recap: it came to light that Israel is among the financial supporters of the Sydney Festival, as the Israeli embassy in Australia contributed $20 000 to the staging of Decadence, a production by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin and the Sydney Dance Company. As expected, the news of this funding led to an outbreak of the customary insanity among left-wing academics and activists.

At this point, some readers may have a touch of déjà vu. At the end of last year, as you may recall from an earlier essay I wrote, the Melbourne Queer Film Festival found itself in a similar quandary. The MQFF, for daring to include an Israeli film in its program, had to fight off a boycott as well as the risible claim that it was “complicit in torture”. That campaign, I can happily remind you, was a failure, and the activists went home disappointed.

The latest boycotters have borrowed that charge sheet from the MQFF and added a few items: the Sydney Festival’s board, the artists still participating, as well as all attendees are now considered supporters of apartheid and genocide. Anti-Israel fanaticism, once a hobby in Australia, has become a full-time profession for many, it would seem.

On the sidelines, some of the noisiest cheerleaders for the boycott have been activist academic Randa Abdel-Fattah, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, and — wait for it — Hamas. Among these, I must admit, it is hard to determine who verbally attacks Israel with the most ferocity and vim. The terror group — no, I mean Hamas, not Faruqi’s Greens — has just sent both warm regards and “solidarity” to its co-thinkers in Sydney.

I wonder, though, if this partnership will cause any embarrassment or second thoughts among the activists here. One reason I’m doubtful is that much of the media can hardly be relied upon to ask anyone about it, or ask anything mildly interrogative at all, for that matter.

Take, for example, another accusation that has been flung around: that the Sydney Festival is now a dangerous place. Abdel-Fattah, writing in Meanjin with some other academic agitators, set out the lame talking points that every other whiny activist would put to use: the festival, because of all this bother with Israel, has become “a culturally unsafe environment for Arab artists and audiences.”

What the hell does that mean? No explanations have been offered and to the further shame of the professionally incurious Australian press corps, no journalists have thought it necessary to ask for one.

The danger, apparently, is also physical, as well as a threat to all attendees. Fahad Ali of Palestine Justice Movement Sydney has appeared frequently on ABC television and the digital news site, where he sniffs:

We told them that by accepting this sponsorship, they created an unsafe environment for Palestinian artists taking part in the festival and for audiences more broadly.

Where is the professional curiosity here? Sure, my own preference is for a public campaign of ridicule directed at the likes of Abdel-Fattah and Ali, but I’d settle for just a few follow-up questions to these nonsense claims. How, exactly, does the performance of — and this really needs to be reiterated — an Israeli choreographer’s dance routine contribute to a dangerous environment? For that matter, how does all this virtue-signalling advance the cause of Palestinian rights? Further, how  does this boycott, after almost two years of cancelled cultural events, serve those of a lower profile in the Australian artistic community, those who would like to get paid? There may be more than a bit of journalistic sympathy for the boycotting crusaders, I suspect, so it’s hardly surprising that no one gets a tough question.

At first, I admit, I enjoyed the spectacle of the Left beating itself up. After all, there is even quite a bit of online contempt for unbudging and uncharacteristically quiet board member Benjamin Law, whose left-wing credentials are now up for review. I have also been pleased to see the Sydney Festival hold its ground and refuse to send back the embassy’s cheque. Score one against the Cancel Culture enthusiasts, I’d like to say. One policy, which could be very good for the country, is Israel’s sponsoring of any and all cultural festivals in Australia; let the cretinous BDS supporters out themselves and then stay home, as they won’t have an event that will take them.

Of course, there is another possible outcome to all this, and the savagery and longevity of this current campaign could very well make it the likelier one: many event organisers will become more fearful of provoking the online mob and will take fewer risks with their invitees and programming. If it goes uncontested, loose talk of a lack of ‘cultural safety’ could be applied to, well, anything: conservatives on the speaking schedule, a panelist who believes in the dangerous reality of biological sex, or perhaps even rumours of an Israeli in attendance, existing.

A tentative cheer, then, for the Sydney Festival. Let’s hope its progressive critics, already accustomed to so much disappointment, find themselves sulking yet again.

30 comments
  • Ian MacKenzie

    Is there anyway we can persuade the Israeli embassy to sponsor more cultural events? Apparently the dollar amount doesn’t need to be very large to have the desired effect. The less we see of the racist BDS and their left wing fellow travellers on our stages and screens the better.

  • rosross

    Unfortunately as long as Judaism and many of its followers support the colonial military entity of Israel which occupies all of Palestine and denies 6 million Palestinian Muslims and Christians civil and human rights, purely because they are not Jews, this sort of thing will happen.

    The South Africans were traumatised when sanctions targeted them in sport but it all helped to end apartheid in that country and similar sanctions against Israel will help to end the occupation and apartheid in that country. If the Achilles Heel for South Africa was sport, for Israelis it is arts.

    This is not targeting Jews but it is targeting Israel and Jews will be caught in the backwash until they categorically separate themselves from the Zionist State. Those simple facts may be unpleasant but they are facts. I know many Jews, family and friends, who have separated from the Israeli State and that will increase until Israel frees the Palestinians and provides justice, compensation and a restoration of all rights.

  • exuberan

    ‘Left’s Voluble Wankerati’ superb

  • Trevor Bailey

    rosross, alas it will involve not only Jews ‘caught in the backwash’, but also the 21% of Israel’s population who are Arabs. That’s nearly 2 million people; citizens, actually.

  • gray_rm

    Who’d have thought anti-Semites read Quadrant? Thanks rosross: you’ve confirmed for me that sophistry is a convenient place for the scoundrel to hide.

  • Adam J

    The hate-Israel mob have a small vocabulary because –
    1. They are dumb and as such have a small vocabulary;
    2. Because that is all they have as opposed to logic and reason;
    3. Repetition of a small number of exaggerated claims is effective propaganda (i.e. slogans).
    The vast majority have not been reasoned into this position but have heard the slogans, seen either spurious or selected ‘evidence’ and go along from there, doing to others as was done to them: repeating the same slogans and giving the same ‘evidence’.
    It does not matter how many times they are caught out being dishonest or just ignorant or worse, they will carry on because there is nothing else for them to do except for them to stop, and it is no easy thing to convince a man he has been fooled.
    The simple fact is that Israel is not apartheid or colonial. It does not segregate its population by race and the disputed territories are not divided along racial lines but contain two different societies that are engaged in a conflict, over the whole of which Israel has legal authority by agreement of all parties.
    Jews were not sent by a Jewish motherland to colonise what in Hebrew has always been called the Land of Israel. It is therefore not colonial. Israel did not initially establish the so-called Settlements, that was done by religious Jews who sought to live in the pre-existing Jews towns and villages that were destroyed during the war in 1948 and from which Jews had been ethnically cleansed. Israel as a Jewish state can’t be expected to keep an area Jew-free in an area where Jews have always lived.
    Importantly, when the Israeli High Court was asked to rule on the legality of these settlements, they determined correctly that each settlement has a unique history and legal basis and there can be no basis for the blanket claim that “settlements” as a whole are illegal, especially when a piece of land is legally purchased and someone chooses to live there.

    Consider what the resident troll says above: “until Israel frees the Palestinians and provides justice, compensation and a restoration of all rights.” Palestinians have full autonomy in their own cities. They have their own parliament, constitution, courts, police, hospitals, and school system. They have all the freedoms that Australians fought for in our country. We are not in 1987 when claims of oppression might be more valid. On this issue the far-Left are in a timewarp.

  • Katzenjammer

    Those who say criticism of Israel isn’t necessarily antisemitic, reply “sure, yes”, then ask them what a real antisemite would say about Israel. They never can answer. They have no idea how to recognise antisemitism.

  • IainC

    Obviously, 3000 years of beatings metaphorical and literal aren’t enough for some, and they need to invent new ways to harass Jews. This BDS phase has its murky origins in the early 50s. For the first few years, Stalin supported Israel, seeing it as a potential communist tool to catalyse revolution through the Arab world. How the left cheered Israel. Through the Czechoslovak CP, he even supplied Israel with arms. After doing the maths (5 million Jews, 1 billion Muslims) he turned on a rouble coin and switched to supporting Arab opposition, as a means to infiltrate the ME and, like the sheep in Orwell’s Animal Farm, the left pivoted to hatred of Israel. The left are unable to advance any intellectual analysis deeper than “what are they telling me to think?” and so the last 60 years have, on sheer Stalinist momentum, continued the early 50s commands.
    All Palestinian authorities which have unilaterally decided to negotiate with Israel are terrorist-related or -sympathisers, and Israel is right to refuse to give them an inch. These incompetent and feckless authorities have been betraying the people they allegedly represent for decades, and show no sign of relenting. The 1.5 million Israeli-Palestinians living rich, peaceful lives within Israel must thank their good fortune they chose not to live on the other sides of the borders and be subject to the innumerable political betrayals from their “leaders”.
    An explanation of why socially liberal, democratic pro-Western Israel is vilified, and why support from the left for organisations and causes led by anti-Western, racist, homophobic patriarchal groups from (supposedly) the opposite end of the political spectrum is even a thing, may be found below.
    (From an Australian author several decades ago). O’Sullivan’s First Law: “All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing.”
    I proposed a few corollaries.
    Second Law. “All organizations that are centre-left will over time become implicitly, and complicitly, Marxist in character.”
    Third Law. “Any organisation, campaign or regime that is explicitly anti-West, regardless of whether it is far-left, ultra-conservative, racist or fascistic, will be supported by the far-left.”
    Fourth Law. “All entities in Law 3, seemingly of the opposite political beliefs to the far-left, will have a term of opprobrium invented on their behalf, to be used against political opponents in the west, in order to allow overt far-left support.”
    Fifth Law. “All western institutions will become increasing anti-western over time.”
    Sixth Law. “All centre-left organisations who express some sort of support for a far-left campaign will be set increasingly difficult and absurd hurdles to overcome, until inevitable failure allows a far-left takeover and the Second Law to come to pass”.

  • ianl

    @Katzenjammer

    >”They have no idea how to recognise antisemitism”

    Actually, they have no idea how to *admit* to it.

  • Dani Peer

    ” I know many Jews, family and friends, who have separated from the Israeli State” – rosross

    Classic antisemitism, rosross… although you are probably blind to it.

    Apart from your words being uncomfortably close to “some of my best friends are Jewish”, you make the fatal assumption of the anti-Semite that all Jews are a mono-thinking, homogeneous people. That’s why you believe that because some Jews are anti-Israel that this is somehow proof that Israel is bad. Or at the very least adds substantial credibility to that notion. The facts are that some Jews love Israel, others despise it. Some Jews are capitalist, some communist. Some Jews are white, some Black. Some rich, some poor. Jews are the ultimate individuals and, unlike one other particular religion, are not forced to adopt a single view, nor punished for holding competing views.

    So, the fact that you know Jews who hold anti-Israel sentiment means nothing and does nothing to support your position on the matter.

  • Tony Tea

    Whenever anyone says something critical of Jewish people I reply that since the Jews are so good at so many things, instead of trying to cancel them, we should try to be like them.

  • Daffy

    BDS: Brave, Dynamic, Superb. The survival of Israel.

  • Stephen

    If you are LGBQT (etc) Israel is the only place you can live openly, freely and without fear. If you live in Palestine, Gaza or any of the other Arab countries in the region you had better keep it secret or you will likely be thrown from the roof a tall building by a murderous mob. These BDS idiots are displaying one of the worst cases of cognitive dissonance I’ve ever heard of.

  • Katzenjammer

    We should compliment the dancers, support crew and admin of Sydney Dance Company for not breaking rank. Individuals must have been under pressure from friends in the arts community.

  • rosross

    @TrevorBailey,

    I know it is a common error to compare Arabs, a culture, with Jews, a religion but really a distinction needs to be made.

    Yes, around a quarter of Israeli citizens, albeit second-class, are non-Jews. Most may also be Arab in culture since that generally means Arab-speaking.

    And yes, of course it affects all Israelis but, if apartheid is brought to an end in Israel and in Occupied Palestine then everyone benefits, regardless of their religion. It is worth noting that many Israelis who call themselves Jews are not actually followers of Judaism and therefore technically speaking, not Jews, at least not in any rabbinical sense.

    However, justice is about far more than religions, however one does or does not practise them.

  • rosross

    @ gray_rm<

    There is a tedious predictability, sadly, to your comment. Make a valid criticism of the Israeli State and someone from a place of prejudice is going to call you anti-semitic regardless of how substantive and valid your comment might be.

    Anti-semitism is a hatred of Judaism and its followers, Jews. You ignore the fact that most Jews do not, never did and never will live in Zionist Israel and many orthodox Jews totally opposed the creation of a literal State of Israel, saying it was religious metaphor. Some still do. Yes, Israel has a lot of orthodox Jews but nearly a quarter of its citizens are not Jews, and many who call themselves Jews are in fact secular/atheist and cannot therefore be followers of Judaism. The point being, it is farcical to believe that Israel represent Judaism and its followers and that criticism of Israel could ever reflect on Jews.

    Yes, many Jews do financially support the Israeli State but so do many fundamentalist Christians. Not all Jews are Zionists and not all Zionists are Jews.

    By all means make a case. Take anything I have said and categorically demonstrate it indicates a hatred of this religion and its followers. Otherwise your comment is no more than ad hominem which is generally evidence that you cannot mount a coherent rebuttal and must therefore target the individual.

    Israel may claim to represent Jews and Judaism but in fact it does not. As many Jews will tell you. Conflating Israel with Jews so the very tired label of anti-semitic can be thrown around just does not work anymore.

    Either prove your claim or we accept you cannot.

  • rosross

    @Stephen,

    Palestine is occupied and its 6 million people are crushed under the Israeli military boot and denied civil and human rights. Gaza is a prison, as many have called it, ‘the world’s largest open-air prison,’ in occupied Palestine.

    It is ridiculous to compare them or anything which happens there to the Israeli state.

    And yes, LGBQT may well live with greater freedom in Israel, if they are Jewish, but there are many parts of the world where discrimination applies,including Hindu India and Christian Africa, neither of which are a part of the Arab world.

    No-one gets it all wrong. Even Stalin, responsible for the deaths of tens of millions, got some things right. He abolished serfdom, dramatically improved education and increased literacy and declared men and women equal. However, that does not wipe the slate clean for wrongs done in his name.

    And the fact Israel appears to be more enlightened toward LGBQT does not wipe the slate clean in regard to its egregious discrimination against Christian and Muslim Palestinians, the indigenous people of the land it has colonised.

  • rosross

    @Katzenjammer,

    A real anti-semite would hate Judaism, all of its followers and everything to do with them including the Israeli State. Simple really, a hatred of the religion and all of its followers is the definition of anti-semitism.

    Having worked with and for Israelis and spent time in the Israeli State with some very good friends still living there, although I think their children have left, I find it easy to make a distinction between Israel and Judaism. And with Jewish family, who fortunately for me dropped the religion, from shared Jewish ancestors, , I can assure you, not everyone wishes to be associated with the Israeli State because they are Jews.

    Whenever I have asked someone who accuses me of anti-semitism because of valid statements about Israel, to make a case there is silence. Instead of tossing out trite statements, make a case. Prove that something you call anti-semitism is anti-semitic.

  • rosross

    @ gray_rm

    Re: reading Quadrant. I subscribe to few sources but I value most of what Quadrant does even though it clearly has some sort of bias on the topic of Israel. I am not sure why but most of it is excellent so I don’t really care.

    I also do not judge sources by their material, but rather assess the material regardless of where it is found.

    I also read Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post. I read broadly and deeply in order to better understand issues.

  • Adam J

    rosross:
    As I have pointed out numerous times to you with references, the Jews are both an ethnic and religious group.
    There is no apartheid based on race or religion either in Israel or in the disputed territories.
    I have explained to you previously that anti-Semitism is the name of the anti-Jewish prejudice. A Jewish state is a state where the majority of people are Jewish. Prejudice against Israel because it’s a Jewish state is anti-Jewish.
    As per the Israeli High Court ruling in the Eichmann case, Israel is an agent of the Jewish people.
    Gaza and all other Palestinian cities are independent with self-government as per their agreements with Israel circa 1994. They are not occupied in any practical sense.
    50% of the world’s Jews live in Israel; 75% of Israeli citizens are Jewish; 95% of Jews support the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.
    Boycotting Israel because of malicious claims about apartheid are either anti-Jew or anti-sanity. I care not to distinguish.

  • Adam J

    What would constitute antisemitism regarding BDS, rosross?

  • Katzenjammer

    @rosros

    Mazeltov. You’ve invented a definition of Jews that disenfranchises most Jews, and a definition of antisemitism that clears most antisemites. Please stay in your alternate universe where your ignorance causes no harm. We’ve encountered Jew-baiters like you for centuries. No-one here believes a word of your rants.

  • Katzenjammer

    Lay the word “Jew” in front of rosros and it’s like pressing the belly-button of a tired old ragged teddy bear. Always the same moans. Never has a single word to say about the specific topic of an article. It’s really not worth addressing whatever she/he/it/they/ze/xe writes. Real history, real Jews, the reality of Israel – none of these realities fit her worthless paradigms.

  • IainC

    Don’t rosros and BDS know that it’s illegal to shout “Jew! Jew!” in a crowded theatre?
    Criticism of Israel is all well and good (all countries have bad policies), but Israel Derangement Syndrome has turned it into a pathological witch-hunt riven with fabrications, lies and exaggerations which say more about the psychology of the accusers than about Israel. Over 2 billion souls are currently suffering and oppressed under left-wing fascism globally, and an ultra-obsessive core thinks 5 million Jews are the real global problem.

  • Adam J

    rosross stated:
    “It is worth noting that many Israelis who call themselves Jews are not actually followers of Judaism and therefore technically speaking, not Jews, at least not in any rabbinical sense.”

    rosross also stated:
    “And with Jewish family, who fortunately for me dropped the religion, from shared Jewish ancestors, , I can assure you, not everyone wishes to be associated with the Israeli State because they are Jews.”

    Response:
    1. Rabbinic Judaism does not mandate religious observance: it is enough to be born to a Jewish mother.
    2. Is rosross admitting that he/she is in some way Jewish?
    3. Why would it be ‘fortunate’ that they dropped the Jewish religion?
    4. If they have dropped the religion and they remain ‘Jewish family’, why dispute that Jewish is also an ethnicity?
    5. “Not everyone wishes to be associated with the Israeli State because they are Jews.” That is of course correct. Holding Jews in one country responsible for the allegations against Jews in another is antisemitism.

  • Katzenjammer

    @Adam J
    “2. Is rosross admitting that he/she is in some way Jewish?”
    It trumps “some of my best friends are Jewish.” But it seems she doesn’t hold the ultimate trump card of “because I have Holocaust victim ancestors my opinion about Israel can’t be refuted”.

    “3. Why would it be ‘fortunate’ that they dropped the Jewish religion?”
    Because religious Jews are such horrible people, unlike those who discarded their Jewish ancestry – “like me and my worthy relatives.””she says.

    It’s the usual paradigms of “good”and “bad” Jews, and use of an ancestry that’s meaningless to themself as a shield for their hatred and ignorance.

  • GG

    I have a dream: that a true Lefty-fest program for 2023 is devised, attracting all the worst of the worst luvvies to participate. It all goes ahead, when the Sydney Festival reveals that it was funded by Donald J. Trump!

  • Stephen

    Rosross. Serfdom was abolished in 1865 by Alexander II. Stalin effectively reestablished it with the destruction the Kulaks and the establishment of Collective farms.

  • whitelaughter

    on, very nice question Katzenjammer! Will remember. However, am not surprised that our resident antisemite had a weasel word response; the complete contempt for logic, honesty and decency allows them to do horrible things to our language.

  • whitelaughter

    Also, we should realise that this is where the madness started. If an antiSemite is allowed to rebrand themselves as an antiZionist, what possible objection can be made to men identifying themselves as women? After all, the difference between an antiSemite and a human being is far greater than the difference between men and women.

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