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No to Zionism: theatre rejects Jewish act



THE AUSTRALIAN MARCH 23, 2015

By Christian Kerr

A SYDNEY theatre has refused a booking from a Jewish cultural group in a potential breach of race-discrimination laws.

Hilel, a not-for-profit Jewish educational and cultural organisation for students and young adults, approached The Red ­Rattler Theatre in Marrickville, in Sydney’s inner west, about hiring the venue for a series of performances dealing with the Holocaust.

Their inquiry was dismissed with an unsigned email that read: “Our policy does not support ­colonialism/Zionism. Therefore we do not host groups that support the colonisation and occu­pation of Palestine.”

The response has left the NSW Jewish community shocked and distressed.

Shailee Mendelevich, who approached the theatre on behalf of Hilel, said racial backgrounds or religious views should not leave anyone feeling “dimin­ished”.

Ms Mendelevich said the performances consisted of a story­telling series on the last generation to have direct contact with surviv­ors of the Holocaust.

NSW Jewish Board of Deput­ies chief executive Vic Alhadeff told The Australian: “It’s sad to see an artistic group practise outright discrimination and, worse, impor­ting divisiveness based on conflicts taking place far from Australia. We ought to be able to get along and work with each respectfully, despite political views or differences of opinion.”

Mr Alhadeff has written to the theatre, explaining that the group is apolitical. He has also reiterated the board’s support for a two-state solution in the Middle East that would lead to the establishment of an independent Palestine.

No response has been received to Mr Alhadeff’s letter or phone calls to the theatre. The Red Rattler management did not respond to a request for comment from The Australian yesterday.

The Greens-dominated Marrick­ville council was at the centre of controversy in 2010 when it attempted to implement a policy supporting the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which explicitly equates the Jewish state with apartheid-era South Africa.

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