Batsheva Dance Company (batsheva.co.il) (batsheva.co.il)
Batsheva Dance Company

The festival’s organizers have not caved in to the boycott, and the world-renown Israeli ensemble will perform as scheduled.

By United with Israel Staff

More than 120 celebrities and entertainment industry professionals have signed a letter condemning the boycott of the Sydney Festival due to Israel’s participation.

The three-week festival, which began on Thursday, is a major arts and culture event in Australia.

“Twenty-three acts have officially confirmed their decision to boycott the festival in response to the Israeli embassy’s financial support of a Sydney Dance Company performance by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin,” Australia’s ABC News reported.

Israel is also listed as a “star partner” on the festival’s website, according to the news site.

Released by the Creative Community for Peace (CCP), the letter was composed in response to anti-Israel activists who were boycotting the event because the Israeli Embassy in Australia is sponsoring the performance of the world-renowned Batsheva Dance Company.

“After suffering through two years of border closures, extended COVID lockdowns, the most catastrophic bushfires on record and devastating floods, this iconic Festival, celebrating its 45th year, is supposed to celebrate Sydney’s diverse history and rich culture, reuniting Sydney as a community,” the letter, dated January 6, states, according to CCP.

“While art can reflect politics, and artists can choose to reflect their politics in their own art, art should never become subservient to politics and artists, and cultural events should never be forced to be politicised,” the letter continues.

Furthermore, “the cultural boycott movement of the Sydney Festival is an affront to both Palestinians and Israelis who are working to advance peace through compromise, exchange, and mutual recognition. While we all may have differing opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the best path to peace, we all agree that a cultural boycott is not the answer.”

The letter also quotes famous Australian musician Nick Cave, who stated: “The cultural boycott of Israel is cowardly and shameful. Israel is a real, vibrant, functioning democracy – yes, with Arab members of parliament – and so engaging with Israelis, who vote, may be more helpful than scaring off artists or shutting down means of engagement.”

In a statement, Ari Ingel, director of Creative Community for Peace, said the activists who organized the boycott “intentionally misrepresent the truth about Israel and make provocative statements, to try and bully artists into backing out of the festival.

“Their messages deceptively involve an element of dishonesty and deny the truth of Jewish indigeneity to the land of Israel. Their actions only further hostility and dampen hope for peace, which all of us so urgently desire…

“The boycott movement is also counterproductive and instead of amplifying the voices of coexistence trying to effect real change on the ground, those who support the calls for a boycott are only creating more hostility, division, and mistrust,” Ingel concluded.

The festival’s organizers have not caved in to the boycott, and the Israeli ensemble will perform as scheduled, Jan. 6-9.