Australian law firm Minters cuts ties with Adelaide Festival over Palestinian writers

Australia’s largest law firm, MinterEllison, has cut ties with the Adelaide Festival over the inclusion of two Palestinian writers with a track record of hostility against Jewish people and Ukraine.

Minters chief executive Virginia Briggs said on Tuesday that the firm had not only withdrawn its support for the Writers’ Week part of this year’s festival, but also the entire program, which covers a broad spectrum of the arts.

Her statement also said the firm, which has been a sponsor for five years, would boycott all festival events.“We have made the decision to remove our presence and involvement with this year’s writers’ festival program,” Ms Briggs said.

“In addition, as these speakers are associated with the festival, we will be removing our branding from the broader festival program [where feasible] and not be attending any events of the festival.”

Minters has been under pressure, including from within its ranks, since it emerged that Palestinian poet Mohammed El-Kurd and Palestinian writer Susan Abulhawa had been invited to Writers’ Week, which begins on March 4.

The festival wrote to sponsors two weeks ago to assure them that all sessions would be conducted in a respectful way. Minters sought further assurances late last week from Adelaide Writers’ Week director Louise Adler. They were given, but the law firm still withdrew its support.

Louise Adler: “I don’t want us to be party to cancel culture.” 

Ms Adler has resisted pressure from critics including South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas and Jeremy Leibler, a partner of law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler and president of the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA), to drop Mr El-Kurd and Ms Abulhawa from the program. “I don’t want us to be party to cancel culture,” Ms Adler said.

Mr Leibler has also been lobbying Minters and other commercial partners to sever their ties with the entire festival, which runs from March 3 to 19. Mr Leibler said on Tuesday that the ZFA welcomed Minters’ “principled decision to reject anti-Semitism and those who are prepared to give it a voice”.


So.. who are these writers ?


Mohammed el-Kurd (Arabic:  born 15 May 1998) is a Palestinian writer and poet. He is currently based out of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem.[1] Prior to the 2021 Israel–Palestine crisis, he was pursuing a master’s degree in the United States, but returned to protest Israel’s eviction of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem (see Sheikh Jarrah controversy).[2][1] He has gained prominence for his description of Palestinians’ lives in the Israeli-occupied West Bank; el-Kurd has referred to the evictions as a form of ethnic cleansing,[3] and has also accused Israel of imposing apartheid-style laws and regulations onto Palestinians in the occupied territories.[4][5]


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Susan Abulhawa (Arabic: born June 3, 1970) is a Palestinian American writer and human rights activist.[1] She is the author of several books, and the founder of a non-governmental organization, Playgrounds for Palestine.[2] She lives in Pennsylvania.[3] Her first novel, Mornings in Jenin, was translated into 32 languages and sold more than a million copies. Her second novel, The Blue Between Sky And Water, was sold in 19 languages before its release, and was published in English in 2015. Against the Loveless World, her third novel, was released in August 2020, also to critical acclaim.[4][5][6]

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