A community activist group’s banner labelling Israelis ‘dumb white dogs’ has cost their centre the support of a prestigious law firm.
Aboriginal group This Mob Arts Collective has faced fierce criticism since displaying the racist banner, which reads: ‘Free Palestine from the colonising dumb white dogs!!! Abolish Israel!!! P***y a** baby killing b***h a*** Bibi (Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu)!!’.
Now major law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler is withdrawing its financial support of community arts hub Collingwood Yards where the banner was produced as part of a protest workshop hosted by community radio station Hope St.
The collective arts space also has a rooftop wine bar.
Arnold Bloch Leibler senior partner Mark Leibler wrote to Collingwood Yards chairwoman Miriam Silva to terminate their partnership, the Australian Financial Review reported on Tuesday.
‘I and my partners are deeply disappointed that Collingwood Yards was not prepared to demonstrate the requisite moral clarity and condemn Hamas and the atrocities it committed on October 7,’ the Jewish community leader wrote.
‘Accordingly, and with great despair on our part that it has come to this, we have made the difficult decision to end our partnership with Collingwood Yards, including our representation on the board.’
The move was made despite Hope St Radio issuing a statement that – contra to the sign its workshop produced – ‘wholeheartedly condemns antisemitism, Islamophobia, and all racism’.
Mr Leibler said that was not enough, despite his firm providing advice on the statement.
‘We accept that the board was not aware of the workshop or the contents of the banner and that, if you had been, you would have ensured it didn’t go ahead,’ Mr Leibler wrote.
‘From what I understand, one of my partners was asked for advice on the appropriate wording of a statement you planned to issue in response to the banner.
‘However, Collingwood Yards proceeded to issue a statement noting that antisemitism is unacceptable but made no mention of the context in which the banner had been produced and promoted, namely the torture, murder and kidnapping of Israeli Jews, as though it had never happened and had no relevance to the offensive behaviour facilitated by your tenants.’
Mr Leibler said his firm had received plenty of flak over its support of groups that produced the offensive banner, and wanted all their branding removed immediately.
Collingwood Yards acting chief executive Nail Aykan told the Australian Financial Review that Hamas’ actions were not referred to for the sake of the banner’s brevity.
‘Word count matters,’ Mr Aykan said. ‘It was really a matter of keeping it succinct and keeping the word count down; otherwise it becomes beyond people’s attention span.’
The law firm was a founding partner of Collingwood Yards in 2021 and has donated more than $1million in pro bono legal advice along with cash donations and firm partners sitting on the board.
After photos of the banner workshop and its finished products began circulating on social media, condemnation began pouring in.
Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dvir Abramovich savaged the contents of the main poster.
‘All the moral guardrails that we took for granted have fallen off and it is no surprise that the Jewish community feels besieged and under attack,’ Dr Abramovich told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Such ugly and open displays of antisemitism, that cross all red lines, are tearing to shred the values we as Australians hold dear.
‘I never thought I would see such hate-fuelled events taking place in the country that I love, and the ripple effects of such demonisation are being felt deeply by us.
‘This venomous poster, calling for Israel to be erased, fans the flames of hostility at a dangerous time when anti-semitism in Australia is skyrocketing.’