The Guardian • Issue #2084

DINGO

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2084

The current attack on ABC radio presenter Antoinette Lattouf – for referencing the Palestinians – is being conducted by bullying lawyers for the Israel lobby.

The tactics have plenty of precedents. One such occurred in the US when on 28 March 1982, the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) announced that it had managed to engage the services of acclaimed actor Vanessa Redgrave for its 100th birthday festivities. The British star was to narrate Stravinsky’s opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex as part of a series of centenary concerts planned for Carnegie Hall in New York City and Symphony Hall in Boston. The young theatrical wizard Peter Sellars would stage and produce the events and the renowned Seiji Ozawa would conduct. The performances sold out in advance. Before the month was out, the Boston Symphony Orchestra had cancelled Redgrave’s contract in response to protests from some BSO supporters and a member of the Board of Trustees accusing the organisers of “insensitivity to the Jewish community” because of Redgrave’s support of the Palestinian people, including her endorsement of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. Never before had a cultural institution acquiesced so quickly and publicly to the bullying of the Israel lobby. In this case it was the Jewish Defence League, a gang of lawyers specialising in intimidation and litigation and who threatened the BSO management with “bloodshed and violence” should Redgrave appear at Symphony Hall. Without Redgrave, the entire program was cancelled. Sellars accused the orchestra of blacklisting and refused to go forward without her.

PARASITE OF THE WEEK: The Albanese government, which plans to cut $70 million from the provision of services to the homeless. Homelessness service providers are under immense strain from the toughest year on record in 2023, as a new survey reveals unrelenting demand due to the housing and cost of living crises.

According to a survey of 252 workers across frontline and support functions: more than 35 per cent of respondents gave a maximum score of ten when asked how often they had to turn away individuals seeking help due to the housing crisis. More than half  rated the government’s current policies and measures to address homelessness amid the housing crisis at between one and three out of ten. An overwhelming majority (84 per cent) gave the cuts ten when asked about the impact of $70 million worth of potential cuts to the sector. “Homelessness providers are expected to work miracles. But the strain is simply unrelenting,” said Kate Colvin, chief executive of Homelessness Australia. “Funding, which is already uncertain, is plateauing while demand surges. The status quo is just unsustainable. Homelessness providers are being forced to make extremely difficult choices. If they’re approached by a mother and child fleeing violence and a teenager escaping abuse, they need to decide whose predicament is worse. Often if someone has a car they can sleep in then they won’t get accommodation. The government must also end the immediate uncertainty around $73 million in funding to cover the wages of the workforce. This funding expires in June 2024. The last thing anyone needs in a housing crisis is a cut to homelessness support.”

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