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Over 20 performers pull out of Sydney Festival over ‘artwashing’ of Israeli oppression of Palestine

MORE than 20 performers have now pulled out of the 2022 Sydney Festival in over the “artwashing” of the Israeli regime’s brutal oppression of the Palestinian people.

The mass boycott of the event came after Israel was listed as a partner of the annual festival after its embassy in Australia made a $20,000 (£14,745) donation in support of an Israeli choreographer.

Local organisations highlighted the Israeli government’s financial backing of the annual festival in December, calling for a boycott.

The Palestinian Justice Movement Sydney pointed out that the deal was struck back in May 2021, when Israel launched a major offensive against the Gaza Strip in which more than 250 Palestinians were killed.

“Palestine advocates call on all opponents of apartheid to boycott the 2022 Sydney Festival,” it said. 

“By partnering with Israel, Sydney festival will … contribute to the normalisation of an apartheid regime.”

An open letter titled Do Better on Palestine called on the festival organisers to cancel its partnership with the Israeli government.

“Israel has long used culture and the arts to cloak its atrocities against the Palestinian people,” the letter stated.

“The Sydney Festival Star Partnership with the Israeli embassy” serves to “artwash” the Israeli regime’s “violent control over the lives of Palestinians and enables the apartheid regime to continue to breach the human rights of Palestinians with impunity,” it added.

At least 23 performances have now been scrapped in protest at the Israeli sponsorship of the event.

On Tuesday the sponsors of the play Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner pulled out of the festival “in solidarity with the Palestinian cause.”

They slammed organisers for ignoring the plight of the Palestinian people.

“The festival’s board ignored artists when concerns first arose, once again forcing people of colour to put their voices, careers and fiscal wellbeing on the line,” the company behind the play said.

Musician Marcus Whale announced that he was boycotting the festival.

“The Israeli embassy, a star sponsor of Sydfest 2022, collaborates with Western cultural institutions to paint Israel as a liberal democracy on one hand while enforcing brutal occupation and apartheid with the other. No more,” he said.

Comedian Tom Ballard also announced his withdrawal from the event. “I love the Festival and I love telling jokes, but standing up for human rights and standing against a system of apartheid is more important,” he said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid expressed concerns over being labelled an apartheid regime in a press briefing earlier this week describing it as “a real threat.”

“There is a real danger that a UN body will say Israel is an apartheid regime,” he said.

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