from AUSTRALIAN JEWISH artists
Welcome to Jews 4 Humanity. We invite you to add your name below the following open letter by pressing the link button, or go directly to the sign up form HERE. (Your name will then in the box below the letter)
Fellow Australian creatives and academics,
We, Jewish creatives, academics and allies, no matter where we stand on the political spectrum, are heartbroken over the tragedy of the brutal massacre and kidnappings of Israeli civilians perpetrated by Hamas terrorists in Israel on October 7, and by the deaths and suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza as a consequence of Israel’s military response to these attacks.
Our despair over the profound collective trauma being experienced by both peoples is immeasurable.
At the same time, we are compelled to express our dismay and shock at the lack of public understanding and empathy shown towards Jewish people by a considerable number of peers and organisations within the Australian creative and academic circles, which we associate with progressive values, since October 7. Some of us have been approached with care and concern by our non-Jewish colleagues in private. But in the public arena, as far as our industries are concerned, silence and justifications often prevail.
The October 7 attacks constituted the most deplorable day of violence perpetrated against Jewish people since the Holocaust. The vast majority of those murdered were civilians – babies, small children, teenagers, pregnant women, the elderly, peace activists, Holocaust survivors. These fellow Jews were hunted down, in many instances raped and mutilated; in addition, over 220 were abducted to Gaza where they are subjected to subhuman treatment and remain under threat of execution by Hamas.
Public silence among many of our colleagues in the face of these atrocities can feel not only deafening, but perilous; the kind of silence that leads to a discourse of hate and, from there, violence. The message this silence sends is that understanding and empathy are a zero-sum game: that if one’s ideological commitment is for legitimate Palestinian rights and an end to Israeli attacks on Gaza, then one cannot also extend sympathy for the Jewish victims of Hamas. The fact is, both peoples are suffering.
Worse, we are witnessing not only silence, perhaps even forgetting, but also attempts to justify the unthinkable. Just recently, an open letter signed by many creatives and academics was published in Overland. Addressed to the Federal Minister for the Arts, it contained not a single word of condemnation for Hamas’s atrocities – no concern for the deaths of Israeli civilians or the suffering of hostages in Gaza. A reference was made to “armed attacks on October 7 by Palestinian people” that “cannot be decontextualised from apartheid, extreme oppression …” This implied that Hamas’s actions were a legitimate response to oppression in the Palestinian struggle for selfhood. It was hard to avoid the subtext here: that the victims of the October 7 massacres had it coming.
Sadly, this letter was not a one-off. There has been a growing discourse that the victims themselves were to blame for their murders. This is not only antithetical to progressive values, but a conflation of Palestine’s right to self-determination with the actions of Hamas.
This failure to acknowledge the October 7 attack as terrorism inflames further the already volatile climate of rapidly escalating antisemitism in Australia and around the world (for example, antisemitic attacks have increased 650-fold in the UK since the Hamas attack).
The Australian Jewish community is small. We comprise approximately 114,000 people. Jewish schools and other organisations are currently under heightened security, while many Jews have even taken to concealing their identities in public. As your Jewish friends and colleagues, we want you to know that since October 7 many of us are feeling increasingly unsafe, even directly threatened, in our workplaces and elsewhere.
Many Australian Jews have relatives and friends among the murdered, injured and kidnapped in the October 7 massacre. Our grief does not diminish the pain we feel for Palestinian civilians and their ongoing suffering. We extend our hearts to both peoples. And we know a significant number of you do the same.
We are calling on our fellow creatives and academics to show empathy for the suffering of innocents on both sides of this hideously complex conflict. By doing so you are not abandoning your progressive ideologies. Rather, you are reinforcing them by affirming our collective humanity.
Click on the LINK below to be taken to a form where you can enter your name and email.
Your name will then appear soon after at the BOTTOM of the list.
The list is then re-alphabetised regularly.
Please do not enter your name twice.
Please do NOT add profession, academic titles only.