IN THE MEDIA

Free speech has limits

Feb 24, 2023 | Jamie Hyams

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A version of this letter appeared in the Age on February 23. 

Adelaide Writers Week Director Louise Adler says she is “surprised and disappointed” by law firm MinterEllison’s decision to remove its presence from the festival, as they are advocates for free speech (“Law firm boycotts festival over inclusion of Palestinian authors” February 22).

The Writers Week has now been widely condemned for featuring at least two guests who have made several antisemitic statements. As well as her offensive comments about Ukraine, Susan Abulhawa calls Israelis Nazis and Israel an abomination that must be destroyed, while as well as the tweets mentioned in the article, Mohammed El-Kurd has also accused Israelis of harvesting Palestinians’ organs.

Contrary to those who fatuously claim that slurs against Israelis can’t be antisemitic, calling Israelis Nazis, calling the Jewish state an abomination that must be destroyed or substituting the word “Israelis” for “Jews” in blood libels is very much antisemitism.

MinterEllison’s principled decision shows they understand the difference between free speech and racism. It’s a shame Adler can’t.

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