The Woodford Folk Festival is usually an event where people enjoy music, dance, art, culture, the natural environment and workshops, but this year’s event was anything but that for Jewish people.
President of the Queensland Jewish Board of Deputies (QJBD), Jason Steinberg, said the Woodford Folk Festival (held from 27 December 2023 to 1 January 2024) was a hotbed of antisemitism.
“Jewish and non Jewish attendees were met by anti-Israel speeches, chants and signs calling for a boycott of Israeli vendors at the festival,” Mr Steinberg said.
“Stalls and artists were left unchecked and free to spew their hate, individuals were harassed and Jewish businesses vandalised.
“We’ve had more than 20 members of the community, many of them long-time attendees at the event, reach out to us to provide testimonies on how distressed they were at the festival.
“What is usually a wonderful event on the Queensland cultural calendar was overun by pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel activists that instilled fear.”
In December 2023, the QJBD wrote to Woodford organisers raising community concerns about antisemitic behaviour of one of the festival speakers, Jonathan Sriranganathan.
Mr Steinberg said organisers had done nothing to prevent antisemitism raging during the festival or ensure civil discourse and respectful engagement of attendees.
“There were also groups of people gathering with flags, posters and wearing Keffiyeh, then parading around the festival making Jewish people feel unsafe,” he said.
“Woodford is a festival that receives corporate, state and federal government funding and all those stakeholders should be asking why a festival that promotes inclusivity, unashamedly created an environment of division and exclusion.
“The organisers of the Woodford Festival should issue an apology to all Jewish and Israeli attendees, offer to refund their tickets and ensure their next event is a welcoming environment for everyone, including Jews.”