Don’t Go To Sydney (Festival)

[Update (January 16, 2022) : A Jewish Response To The Sydney Festival Boycott, Do Better On Palestine, January 16, 2022 /// (January 14, 2022) : Benjamin Law quits Sydney Festival board following Israeli funding controversy, Robert Moran and Linda Morris, The Sydney Morning Herald, January 14, 2022 | Sydney Festival chair apologises over festival board’s handling of Israeli sponsorship issue, Hamish McDonald, Katie Hamann, Dunja Karagic and Simon Leo Brown, ABC, January 13, 2022 /// (January 11, 2022) : From Safsaf to Sydney: Palestinian resistance and the festival boycott, Jeanine Hourani, Rihab Charida and Matt Chun, Overland, January 11, 2022.]

As you may already be aware, the Sydney Festival — ‘one of Australia’s largest annual cultural celebrations’ — is currently taking place. The Festival (January 6–30) is also the subject of a boycott, called on behalf of Artists Against Apartheid, because the Festival’s Board ‘made the decision to accept funding from the Embassy of Israel, making the embassy a Star Partner’. A large number of artists and performers have responded to the call. For its part the Board issued a motherhood statement.

One artiste that elected to ignore the boycott was Melbourne band Amyl & The Sniffers (‘After an occasionally shambolic hour there’s no encore but that proves relatively easy to accept – the job of lighting a fire under the Sydney Festival has been emphatically accomplished‘). Their decision surprised some, but it also prompted me to make a meme, so y’know: win some, lose some.

For what it’s worth, in 2022 I reckon The Sniffers are Too Big To Fail, and the moment will soon be forgotten, but I remain curious as to why they felt compelled to play; you can read Tropical Fuck Storm’s (slightly grumpy) announcement they’d be pulling the plug on their gig here.

See also : Support the work of artists who withdrew from Sydney Festival. | Sydney Festival Hit by Claims of Art-Washing Over Israel Sponsorship, Patrick Frater, Variety, January 7, 2022 | Gene Simmons, Deborah Conway join opposition to Sydney festival boycott as more acts pull out, Kelly Burke, The Guardian, January 7, 2022 | Sydney Festival boycott: when arts organisations accept donations, there is always a price to pay, Jo Caust, The Conversation, January 6, 2022 | Sydney Festival pays price for Israeli sponsorship, The Australian Jewish News, January 5, 2022 | High-profile figures join Sydney Festival boycott over Israeli funding, Nick Galvin, The Sydney Morning Herald, December 23, 2021.

*For those who’d like to learn a little bit about blak history and Black-Palestinian Solidarity, see : Black-Palestinian Solidarity conference: Contesting settler nationalisms, Gary Foley and Suzannah Henty, Radical Philosophy, Spring 2020:

Black-Palestinian solidarity in the continent emerged during the late 1970s and began with the organised political actions of Ali Kazak and Gary Foley. Kazak, an activist, former Fatah member and, later, Palestinian Liberation Organization representative for the Oceania region, migrated to Australia in 1970. Foley is a Gumbaynggirr activist, historian, and co-founder of the Redfern Aboriginal Legal Services (1971) and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy (1972). Both Kazak and Foley saw the Palestinian and Aboriginal struggle for justice against settler-colonial occupation as united. Their shared militant, anti-imperialist, and internationalist actions against the occupiers and their beneficiaries held solidarity at the heart of their revolutionary decolonial imaginaries.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2021 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
This entry was posted in Art, Broken Windows, History, Media, Music, Poetry, State / Politics, That's Capitalism! and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Don’t Go To Sydney (Festival)

  1. Futilitarian says:

    Join my boycott of the State!

    Quit your government job!

    Tell your university department head to fuck off!

    Tell Centrelink where to stuff its demeaning payments!

    In my experience of the Sydney anarchist scene I’ve not met a single ‘anarchist’ who isn’t either directly or indirectly employed by the State, or who doesn’t receive some kind of State-support in the form of social security payments, etc.

    I, on the other hand, apart from a few stints of university employment many years ago, and some brief periods of being the beneficiary of largesse from the Dept. of Social Security, as it then was, also many years ago, have always provided for the continuation of my existence through non-State means.

    If the State disappeared would I be the only anarchist left?

    I’m not expecting too many to join my boycott.

  2. Anonymouse says:

    Dear “Futilitarian” (if that is your real name),
    Do they owe us a living? ‘Course they do! ‘Course they do!

    Anarchists also need to eat.

    Regards,
    Not my real name

  3. ablokeimet says:

    As Futilitarian should very well know, Anarchists object to capitalism as well as the State. If we have an obligation to boycott the State, we also have an obligation to boycott private capital, too.

    A moment’s reflection should be enough to demonstrate that it’s impossible to boycott both the State & private capital. That’s why Anarchists don’t have a principle of boycotting them. Instead, we fight them. Not necessarily at every moment of every day, because we have to recognise the balance of forces and choose our battles. But fight them we do.

  4. Futilitarian says:

    The State doesn’t owe you a living, Anonymouse, you owe that to yourself. Being a recipient of social security payments tends to make you servile. Being employed by the State can co-opt you in all sorts of insidious ways. Either way, you’re fucked. Of course, in the end we’re all fucked, regardless of how we passed the time. I just find it a point of amusement that so many self-described anarchists depend for their existence on the State. I also think that most boycotts are bullshit, carried out by middle-class wankers for their own egoistic purposes, contributing nothing to the poor fuckers whom they purport to support. My boycott of the State, however, is ridgy didge and should be supported one-hundred percent.

    As Ablokeimet should know, not all anarchists object to capitalism (anarcho-capitalists, market capitalists, agorists, etc.). Just because social anarchists dictate that the latter aren’t anarchists doesn’t make it so. It just demonstrates the archist tendencies that lurk within social anarchists. I personally object to nothing at all. Whatever human beings get up to doesn’t surprise me in the least and is okay by me. As the song goes: whatever gets you through the night, it’s alright, it’s alright. As another song has it: I don’t care what you say, boy, there ain’t no way out.

  5. James Hutchings says:

    The Arab-Israeli conflict isn’t nearly as one-sided as this post makes it sound.

  6. @ndy says:

    @James:

    Outta curiosity, how do you think this post makes ‘the Arab-Israeli conflict’ sound one-sided, what does that mean, and what do you think is the relationship between Arab and Palestinian?

  7. Anonymouse says:

    Dear “Futilitarian” (if that is your real name),
    Do they owe us a living? ‘Course they do! ‘Course they do!

    Also, you’d have to be a special sort of stupid to think that anarchists aren’t also anti-capitalist. Capitalism is about power and hierarchy. Anarchism is about anti-power and anti-hierarchy.

    Anarchism isn’t automatically anti-market. But markets don’t capitalism make.

    If you object to nothing at all, then you’d presumably also not object to slavery. A weird sort of anarchist that would make you.

    Regards,
    Not my real name

  8. James Hutchings says:

    The lack of a settlement between the two sides is at least half down to the leadership of the Palestinians.

  9. Futilitarian says:

    Perhaps, Anonymouse, you should do a bit more research into ‘weird sort of anarchists.’

    [Erratum: in my previous message, paragraph 2, I inadvertently wrote ‘market capitalists’ instead of ‘market anarchists.’ I should also mention that many market anarchists wouldn’t regard themselves as engaging in capitalist activity. I didn’t go into this extemporisation for the sake of brevity but also because it would appear to negate the point I was making to my friend, Ablokeimet, which is essentially that not all anarchists are averse to markets or indeed capitalism itself.]

    And, yes, Anonymouse, Futilitarian is my real name. By a lucky coincidence it is also my condition.

  10. @ndy says:

    While I would have thought this was obvious, to be clear, the post is not dedicated to examining the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and doesn’t seek to determine precisely what share of the blame for the lack of a (just) settlement may belong to Arabs, Israelis, Palestinians or their respective leaderships, past, present or emerging. That’s why it contains no such analysis. Rather, it takes note of the fact that there’s a boycott campaign directed at the Sydney Festival called by ‘artists who work and create on unceded land, [who] are committed to justice for Indigenous peoples everywhere, from so-called Australia to Palestine’. In any case, ‘An Arab-Israeli conflict in which there are two groups of leaders who are equally at fault for failing to arrive a settlement’ is not a very useful framework for understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict I reckon. And you’ve not answered my questions: how do you think this post makes ‘the Arab-Israeli conflict’ sound one-sided, what does that mean, and what do you think is the relationship between Arab and Palestinian?

  11. Rashid says:

    @James:

    “The lack of a settlement between the two sides is at least half down to the leadership of the Palestinians.”

    This statement’s conclusion drips with absurdity.

    The implication that varying levels of incompetence/corruption amongst successive Palestinian leadership are ipso facto the ‘main’ reason for an absence of peace, rather than the unmentioned and demonstrable actions by the Israeli state of illegal occupation, besiegement, ever increasing land theft and application of a 2 tier legal system (apartheid) – i.e. the occupied, besieged, deprived and discriminated are themselves half or more to blame for their predicament, is just the sort of nonsensical obfuscation propaganda expected from such a government’s spokespersons and its partisan supporters.

  12. Derelict says:

    I find this repulsive on two fronts. On one, I completely support the protesting of Sydney (Fyre) Festival and the boards ludicrous decision to accept this funding knowing full well the implications therein. On the other, I find it deeply unsettling seeing artists being brigaded and browbeaten into losing a pay check (they don’t get many these days) over a decision made far and above them.
    Thirdly, good meme well done.

  13. @ndy says:

    @Derelict:

    I’m not sure I fully understand your repulsion, but yes, I am mocking — relative to others, rather gently, in my view — the band. With regards pay cheques, yes, like dozens of others, the Sniffers would’ve missed out on getting paid if they’d cancelled their show. That’s unfortunate, of course, but sometimes, taking a stand can be costly. Still, my strong feeling is that the band could afford it, especially as they’re award-winning, critically-acclaimed, popular, have many gigs booked (they’re returning to play Coachella in a coupla months) and their main source of income is not, in fact, playing arts festivals. But even if cancelling the gig would’ve placed the band in some kinda real financial jeopardy (which I doubt), given their very large and growing fan base, I think it highly likely that, if they were to have cancelled, and made an appeal to their fans for compensation, it would’ve been successful. As it stands, however, they’ve said nothing, which I think is a very weak position for a group that the Festival described as an ‘internationally acclaimed punk rock four-piece … where love and hate, spit and sweat, beer and politics collide’. And as the post suggests, if you’re gonna wear the t-shirt, you should be familiar with the content.

  14. James Hutchings says:

    @ndy:

    “While I would have thought this was obvious, to be clear, the post is not dedicated to examining the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and doesn’t seek to determine precisely what share of the blame for the lack of a (just) settlement may belong to Arabs, Israelis, Palestinians or their respective leaderships, past, present or emerging.”

    This is obviously untrue. The post makes no sense unless you assume that the boycott is just, which in turn only makes sense if you assume that the Arab-Israeli conflict is one in which the Israelis are occupying land which justly belongs to the Palestinians.

    Rashid:

    “The implication that varying levels of incompetence/corruption amongst successive Palestinian leadership are ipso facto the ‘main’ reason for an absence of peace,”

    Is your position that Hamas will accept any situation in which Israel continues to exist?

    Because if not, then it follows that there will be a conflict so long as Hamas continues to exist and continues to have the position they have.

  15. @ndy says:

    @James:

    I’m repeating myself, but still.

    You wrote: ‘The Arab-Israeli conflict isn’t nearly as one-sided as this post makes it sound.’ My point is that I didn’t attempt to present an account of the Arab-Israeli [sic] conflict — its origins, history, dimensions or actors (of which there are many) — but rather to present a brief account of a campaign to boycott the Sydney Festival. If there are ‘sides’, then, it’s more accurately those who support the boycott and those who oppose it. Further, the boycott doesn’t have unanimous support among those who would, for example, like the Israeli state to, say, adhere to United Nations Security Council Resolution 242. The aims of the BDS campaign, even if they have radical implications, are fairly narrow — adherence to international law, an end to occupations/annexations, full citizenship rights for Palestinian residents and so on — and have won support from a broad array of groups. Within this context, different groups express different perspectives/there are many ‘sides’.

  16. James Hutchings says:

    @ndy:

    “My point is that I didn’t attempt to present an account of the Arab-Israeli [sic] conflict”

    No, you assumed it.

  17. @ndy says:

    Leaving aside the fact that the terms ‘Arab’ and ‘Palestinian’ are not synonymous, assume what, precisely?

  18. James Hutchings says:

    @Andy:

    “Leaving aside the fact that the terms ‘Arab’ and ‘Palestinian’ are not synonymous”

    But you’re not leaving it aside. You’re referring to it.

    You seem to think the term ‘Arab-Israeli conflict’ is some kind of mistake on my part, and that putting ‘(sic)’ after it is a way to draw attention to that.

    In reality, it’s the standard term for this conflict.

    “assume what, precisely?”

    I have already written “[Your] post makes no sense unless you assume that the boycott is just, which in turn only makes sense if you assume that the Arab-Israeli conflict is one in which the Israelis are occupying land which justly belongs to the Palestinians.”

    I don’t see how this is other than a complete answer to your question, rendering your question unnecessary.

  19. ablokeimet says:

    James Hutchings:

    “The post makes no sense unless you assume that the boycott is just, which in turn only makes sense if you assume that the Arab-Israeli conflict is one in which the Israelis are occupying land which justly belongs to the Palestinians.”

    Wow! Only the most extreme Zionists would refuse to accept that proposition. Even the mainstream of the Likud, which is a hard Right Zionist party in Israel that has been in government for most of the last 20 years, verbally accept that some of the land occupied by Israel belongs to the Palestinians & they’re waiting for a reasonable Palestinian leadership to emerge so they can be negotiated with. When your Zionism is more hard line than Bibi’s, I think it’s fair to examine your political assumptions.

    In reality, the fundamental cause of the “Arab-Israeli” conflict is the existence of Israel. A Jewish State is the moral & political equivalent of a White Australia or an Islamic Republic. As such, it is an abomination that deserves to be abolished. The fact that a Jewish State has been established, claims sovereignty over most of the old Mandate territory of Palestine and occupies the rest led to the ethnic cleansing of approximately half of the Palestinians. Today, about 15% exist as second class citizens of Israel, about 35% in the West Bank & the Gaza Strip under conditions of occupation (details of which vary depending on whether you look at Area A, Area B, Area C or Gaza) and about half in the diaspora.

    The Palestinians have an internationally recognised right to return home. Internationally recognised in theory, but not recognised in practice by any Western imperialist State. This right is independent of the behaviour of the Palestinian political leadership. The existence of Israel, though, depends on the Palestinians not returning home. If they did, the Zionists would be outvoted and the institutions which make Israel Israel (i.e. a Jewish State) would be dissolved.

    Nevertheless, there have been occasions when a settlement may have been possible, based on the Palestinian political leadership accepting a great deal less than what the Palestinians were actually entitled to. With one exception, these settlements were ones that required the Palestinians to accept Israeli terms which were offered precisely for the purpose of being rejected. The exception was the negotiations in 2000 by Ehud Barak, which foundered over the question of the return of refugees.

    Why have successive Israeli governments (with the one exception noted above) only ever offered terms which they knew would be rejected? It’s because Israel doesn’t want peace. Peace would mean an end to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, an end to Israeli settlements & an end to Israel’s territorial expansion. It would mean abandoning the maximalist ambitions of Jabotinsky. So much of the Israeli ruling class depends on perpetual war and occupation that peace would threaten their power.

    OK, so let’s turn to the responsibility of the Palestinian political leadership. As noted above, the Palestinian leadership has had a few occasions on which to reach peace with Israel, but each time it would have required abandoning the Palestinian diaspora, leaving Israeli Palestinians as second class citizens and defying the opinion of the Palestinians to whom they were theoretically responsible. Yasser Arafat came close, but at the end he wasn’t prepared to face the wrath of Palestinians for leaving the diaspora to the tender mercies of the various Arab tyrannies under which they now exist. We’re talking about people who’ve held on to the front door keys of the houses they fled in 1947-48. They wanna go home.

    And now, Hamas. Yes, that bunch of reactionary, misogynistic anti-Semites. They were created in the first place by Israel, which had a policy of promoting fundamentalist Islam amongst Palestinians as a means of undermining the PLO. Israel wasn’t happy when Hamas itself turned to armed struggle, but it still benefits from having the perfect enemy. It’s so repulsive that it cuts the Palestinians off from much support they could obtain on the merits of their cause, while simultaneously adopting a strategy of armed struggle that can’t win and doing everything they can to prevent other strategies from being adopted. The latest example of this was the response of Hamas to the upsurge of Palestinian struggle sparked off by the threatened evictions in Sheik Jarrah in May last year. The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group discussed it here:

    https://melbacg.wordpress.com/2021/07/01/the-struggle-for-palestine/

    Israel needs to be destroyed. Not by the armies of Arab States, or by mythical Iranian nuclear weapons, but by workers’ revolution. It won’t happen until there’s been revolution elsewhere (most especially Egypt), but that’s what is necessary.

    Finally, about the boycott of the Sydney Festival. It fits within the BDS campaign, but has attracted more support than that campaign as a whole has because of the clear issue involved of accepting money from the State of Israel. And the BDS campaign was specifically developed as an alternative to armed struggle. That’s right. BDS is a vehicle for supporting the liberation of Palestine while opposing Hamas. Not that you’ll ever see Israel & its supporters mention that, of course.

    So the boycott of the Sydney Festival is one I’m happy to get behind.

  20. James Hutchings says:

    “They were created in the first place by Israel, which had a policy of promoting fundamentalist Islam amongst Palestinians as a means of undermining the PLO. ”

    This is, obviously, wrong. You’ve taken a thing that happened–Israel dropped Egypt’s restrictions against Islamic fundamentalists and used them as a counterweight to secular nationalists–and turned it into something that didn’t.

  21. Rashid says:

    “Is your position that Hamas will accept any situation in which Israel continues to exist?

    Because if not, then it follows that there will be a conflict so long as Hamas continues to exist and continues to have the position they have.”

    @James

    My position is that the ‘primary’ responsibility of ending a decades long military occupation, a besiegement, illegal territorial expansion etc. etc. lies with the perpetrator of such actions – not with its victims, regardless whether some of those victims and leadership have resorted to reactionary violence.

    Secondly, the aforementioned actions of successive Israeli political leadership, as well as Palestinian aspirations for self determination and statehood, pre date the creation and rule of Hamas within the Gaza Strip.

    Thirdly, I can neither speak for nor predict what Hamas may or may not accept in the future in terms of an Israeli state, however pragmatism is something they have at least indicated in public declarations previously.

    “Hamas presents new charter accepting a Palestine based on 1967 borders”
    https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/01/hamas-new-charter-palestine-israel-1967-borders

    I also think it’s reasonable to assume that much of their current belligerent posturing is circumstantial, i.e. fed by a popular perception that, unlike the rule of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, they are by comparison uncorrupted and unafraid to engage armed resistance against an aggressor with an exponentially better resourced military, and which has laid siege to Gaza by land, air and sea since 2007.

    In any case even if your suggestion is true – i.e. that conflict will continue so long as a political entity ideologically opposed to the existence of some other nation state, itself exists and continues to hold that view, then why does such logic not apply to Israeli political groups and leadership?

    “Netanyahu: A Palestinian state won’t be created”
    https://m.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/netanyahu-a-palestinian-state-wont-be-created-586017/amp

    “ The Hateful Likud Charter Calls for Destruction of Any Palestinian State
    https://www.juancole.com/2014/08/charter-destruction-palestinian.html

    Naftali Bennett: “ I oppose a Palestinian state — I think it would be a terrible mistake”
    https://www.timesofisrael.com/bennett-says-he-wont-meet-mahmoud-abbas-palestinian-state-a-terrible-mistake/amp/

  22. Futilitarian says:

    Ablokeimet, I’m sure the comrades and fellow workers have found your article most instructive and that it will prevent them from straying from the path. Victory is nigh! My preference, however, is to practice BDSM in the privacy of my boudoir.

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