Attempt to silence Dr Randa Abdel-Fattah as judge of Multicultural NSW Award condemned
April 4, 2024

The Jewish Council of Australia has condemned the actions of Liberal Senator Dave Sharma and Israel lobby groups who have asked Multicultural NSW to remove Dr Randa Abdel-Fattah as a judge because of her outspoken criticism of Israel and the political ideology of Zionism. 

Dr Abdel-Fattah is the judging panel chair of this year’s Multicultural NSW Award, part of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards sponsored by government agency Multicultural NSW. Dr Abdel-Fattah is a Palestinian Egyptian Muslim writer, academic, activist, former lawyer and the multi-award-winning author of 14 books published in over 20 countries.

Dr Elizabeth Strakosch, Executive Officer, Jewish Council of Australia

“Dr Randa Abdel-Fattah is an important academic voice supporting Palestinian human rights and criticising Israel’s actions. She has clearly and consistently made a distinction between the political ideology of Zionism and Jewish people. Attempts to discredit her, smear her as antisemitic and have her removed from professional appointments should be deeply concerning to all who value a plural and open society.”

“It is no coincidence that Palestinian voices are facing the most aggressive targeting from the Israel lobby, and the attacks on Dr Abdel-Fattah are another example of widespread anti-Palestinian racism.” 

Sarah Schwartz, Executive Officer, Jewish Council of Australia:

“Attempts to silence Palestinian voices under the guise of political bias sets a dangerous precedent for intellectual debate and democratic values. Palestinians are currently facing what the International Court of Justice has found to be a plausible case of genocide.” 

“It is imperative for diverse perspectives, including robust critiques of the political structures which enable this war to continue, to be respected and given a platform for discussion. Diversity of thought enriches our society and should be embraced not stifled.” 

Dr. Max Kaiser, Executive Officer, Jewish Council of Australia:

“Demonisation of outspoken Palestinians by right-wing Israel lobby groups and Senators only adds fuel to the fire of anti-Palestinian racism in Australia. This racism damages Australian society and exacerbates other racism, including antisemitism.”

“As scholars of history, law, and politics, we emphasise the necessity of open dialogue and debate. It is important to distinguish Jewish identities, which trace back over 3,000 years and span different cultures and traditions, from the State of Israel and the political ideology of Zionism. Many Jews do not hold Zionist views. Many, if not the majority, of people who hold Zionist views today are Christian Zionists. Zionism, as a political ideology, should be subject to critique, not shielded from scrutiny.”

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