The Herbert and Valmae Freilich Project for the Study of Bigotry acknowledges the important contribution that Mary Kostakidis has made to both journalism and human rights activism in Australia, and urges her to consider the potentially inflammatory impact of comments that she recently made on social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter). On 2nd December, Ms Kostakidis posted a quote that appeared to defend the attack on Israeli citizens by Hamas militants on 7th of October this year.
The Freilich Project is a philanthropically funded, interdisciplinary research centre based at The Australian National University. At ANU we uphold the values of excellence, inclusivity and non-discrimination. Of Jewish background, the Freilichs understood bigotry as a universal problem and wished to support research and education that would improve our collective understanding of the causes, histories and effects of ethnic, cultural, religious, and sexual bigotry and animosity. The Freilich Project, with the support of many prominent scholars and activists who have contributed to our work over the past 25 years, seeks to foster dialogue and understanding between groups and to encourage a culture of inclusivity and respect between people of different backgrounds.
Mary Kostakidis has made important contributions to human rights discussions in Australia during her journalism career and by serving on the boards of several prominent national cultural institutions. She is a former 'Friend of the Freilich Project' (as that scheme is now inactive) and delivered the 2009 Alice Tay Public Lecture in Law and Human Rights. The views expressed by Mary Kostakidis, like those of any individuals who have participated in Freilich Project activities, remain her own and do not represent the views of The Freilich Project or The ANU.
The recent events in Israel and Palestine have led to massive suffering and loss of lives, and have increased incidences of both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in our communities. It is entirely possible to criticise and hold government actors to account without resorting to inflammatory, anti-Semitic or Islamophobic language. We call on Ms Kostakidis and all prominent activists to center the human rights of both Israelis and Palestinians in their commentary on these complex issues, and to focus on fostering dialogue and a desire for reconciliation between the groups involved.