Indigenous Friends of Israel (IFI) co-founders Norman and Barbara Miller said, “Adelaide Writers Festival organisers seem to think free speech reads hate speech or racist speech which is not so. In a one-sided propaganda event, the most vitriolic pro-Palestinian writers will have a platform with no opportunity for the other side to be heard. At best, this is a misuse of taxpayers’ money. At worst, it is an intellectual travesty.”

“As Indigenous Friends of Israel, we condemn the inaccurate propaganda coming from some invited speakers that Israel is a racist, apartheid colonizer state. Jews have been in the land we now call Israel since the time of Abraham, 4,000 years ago. Jerusalem was made the capital of the Jewish state 3,000 years ago by King David. Jews were conquered and removed at various times through history but a remnant has always been in Israel, renamed Palestine by the conquering Romans. Arabs conquered and colonialized Jerusalem in the relatively recent time of 636-637 AD. They came from Saudi Arabia. They are not Indigenous,” said IFI.

“When the modern state of Israel was declared in 1948, Arab nations went to war against Israel. There were a similar number of Jews as refugees from Arab nations from which they were expelled as Arab refugees from Israel who fled the war or were displaced. Jewish refugees were absorbed by Israel but the Arab nations refused to absorb Palestinian Arab refugees so they could weaponize them against Israel. 

“Israeli Arabs are not treated in a racist apartheid manner as they are in the Knesset (Parliament), judiciary, police service, academia, business, and various professions. Israel is one of the most multicultural nations in the world.

“The Premier of Adelaide, Paul Malinauskas, has declared he will not attend but will not withdraw funding. The Australian newspaper reported recently the concern of Ukrainian and Jewish leaders as one speaker, Palestinian-American writer Susan Abulhawa, is a pro-Putin apologist. She said Putin is trying to “DeNazify Ukraine” and that Ukrainian President Zelensky is a ‘depraved Zionist trying to ignite World War 111’.”

“The war in Ukraine has been clearly caused by Russian aggression with Putin trying to restore the glory and territory of the former Soviet Union. The Ukrainians are valiantly defending themselves with war crimes being committed by Russia. One example is the thousands of Ukrainian children captured and taken to re-education camps in Russia. This fits the UN definition of genocide.

“Another speaker at the festival, poet Mohammed El-Kurd, has made defamatory, racist, and vile comments about Israel and Jewish people, including blood libel, that are antisemitic such as Israelis eating the organs of Palestinians or lusting after Palestinian blood. It is a wonder he and Abulhawa have been allowed into Australia considering recent discussion re Kanye (Ye) West’s visit,” said IFI, “especially when Abulhawa supports terrorism and wiping Israel off the map.”

“Festival organizer Louise Adler is staring down criticism saying she wants debate but how can there be debate when a platform is provided for only one side of a debate? There are seven Palestinian speakers and none from Israel. On top of that, with speakers like Abulhawa and El-Kurd equating Israel with Nazis, it trivializes the Holocaust and is offensive to Jewish people,” said the Millers for IFI. 

“By comparison, the Sydney Festival included a dance performance created by an Israeli and sponsored by the Israeli embassy which had nothing to do with politics. However, performers were harassed and bullied by the pro-Palestinian lobby into pulling out and many did. This is not the tolerant and inclusive society Australians think we have.” IFI said. 

“Australia has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism and comments by some of the Palestinian speakers at the Adelaide Festival contravene this,” said Barbara Miller who has just written a Handbook on the Holocaust and the Australian Aboriginal Response for educators, high school students and adult education. It was published by the WE ARE HERE! Foundation.

Signed Norman Miller and Barbara Miller

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