Karate Boogaloo has pulled out of this month’s Sydney Festival, set to kick off on Thursday.

Issuing a statement on Facebook last night, the group said: “In response to the Sydney Festival’s decision to accept money from the Israeli Embassy, Karate Boogaloo are choosing to boycott the 2022 Sydney Festival and not perform. Boycotts and divestments have a strong track record of holding governments and corporations accountable for their actions which is why Karate Boogaloo is standing in solidarity with Palestinian people and boycotting the Sydney Festival as a result of it accepting money from the human rights abusing regime that is the Israeli Government.”

Karate Boogaloo joins a slew of artists and organisations who have rescinded agreements to participate in the event because of a $20,000 sponsorship deal from the Israeli Embassy in Canberra.

Other participants in the boycott include Malyangapa and Barkindji rapper BARKAA, Yuin & Thunghutti rapper Nooky, comedian Nazeem Hussain, dance ensemble Bindi Bosses, Bankstown Poetry Slam, musician and artist Marcus Bale, Darumbal and South Sea Islander journalist and writer Amy McQuire, video artist Khaled Sabsabi and Arabic musicians Ensemble Dandana.

The boycott is in response to Sydney Festival accepting $20,000 from the Israeli Embassy, which will fund dance performance Decadence by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin at the Sydney Opera House.

The editors of The Sunday Paper allege the Sydney Festival Board approached the embassy for money in May of 2021, as tensions in Gaza reached boiling point.

An open letter signed by hundreds of artists and community members expressed a “deep concern” for the festival’s refusal to sever ties with Israel, adding salt to the wound by making the embassy a ‘Star Partner’.

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“As artists who work and create on unceded land, we are committed to justice for Indigenous peoples everywhere, from so-called Australia to Palestine,” the letter reads.

“As such, we urge Sydney Festival to drop its partnership with the Israeli Embassy as a matter of conscience.”

In a statement provided to The Guardian, a Sydney Festival spokesperson said the festival was “unwavering in its commitment to ensuring a culturally safe space for all artists, employees and audiences.”

“[The festival] will be reviewing all funding arrangements with embassies and cultural organisations to ensure that any continuance of these partnerships are compatible with maintaining a welcoming and culturally safe environment moving forward,” it said.

Ironically, Ohad Naharin, the choreographer behind the controversial performance, has said that he supports the BDS agenda.

“I’ve always said that if boycotting a performance of mine will improve the situation in the territories or bring a solution to the conflict, I will support the boycott myself,” he told Army Radio back in 2019.

“BDS has an agenda that I identify with. They are against the occupation.”

Sydney Festival is set to go ahead from 6th until 30th January, despite the boycott and escalating COVID numbers in Sydney.

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