Sydney Theater Apologizes for Rejecting Jewish Group Over 'Occupation of Palestine'

Local Hillel house told it won't be able to rent venue because theater does 'not host groups that support the colonization and occupation of Palestine.'

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The community board of a suburban Sydney theater apologized for telling a Jewish group it could not rent the venue because it does “not host groups that support the colonization and occupation of Palestine.”

The unsigned email from the Red Rattler Theater in Marrickville came in response to a request from the Hillel at Sydney’s Shalom Institute to rent the premises for a series of performances dealing with the Holocaust.

“Hi. Our policy does not support colonialism/Zionism. Therefore we do not host groups that support the colonization and occupation of Palestine,” read the email signed by the Red Rattler Team, the Australian Jewish News reported.

Prior to the apology, New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff wrote to the manager of the Red Rattler, explaining that Hillel is an “apolitical body which provides educational, cultural and social activities for Jewish students and young adults.”

Alhadeff asked for a meeting with theater leaders to discuss the Jewish community and Israel, according to the Jewish News.

“To categorically reject an approach by a Jewish organization to hire your premises because of a political position that your team holds in relation to an overseas conflict is at best ill-informed and at worst racist and discriminatory,” he wrote.

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 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.