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 [New South Wales] 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.
But here’s the point: he shouldn’t have to do that.
In Hungary, it’s hard to be even a dead Jew:
The leader of a small Hungarian Jewish community says about 20 graves have been vandalized in a Jewish cemetery.
Yes, vandalizing Jewish graves is an almost everyday occurrence somewhere in the world. What makes this especially horrible is that human remains were dug up and scattered– as if desecrating and destroying grave markers was not enough.
The office of Prime Minister Viktor Orban condemned the “barbaric deed” on Sunday and vowed to launch a program this year to renovate neglected cemeteries.
That’s nice, I guess. It would be even better if Prime Minister Orban would cut his ties once and for all with nasty antisemites.
Update: The directors of the Sydney theatre have apologized:
The apology email sent to the Jewish News on Monday said that the original response “does not reflect the values of the Community Board of the Red Rattler Theatre” and “The Red Rattler condemns racism of any kind.”
The apology was signed by the entire board of directors of the theater.
“We welcome organizations from all cultures and walks of life and actively encourage cultural diversity,” the apology read.
The Marrickville [where the theatre is located] Council in December 2010 voted to support a ban on any government, academic, trade, sporting or cultural ties with Israel in support of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
*Yiddish for: “It’s hard to be a Jew”