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BDS campaign prompts international artists to pull out of Berlin music festival

US musical John Maus is the latest to ditch the Israeli-sponsored event

PRESSURE from the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has prompted a number of international artists to pull out of an Israeli-sponsored music festival in Berlin.

US musician John Maus is the latest act to withdraw from Berlin’s Pop-Kultur festival, organisers announced earlier this week, as he said his band did not wish “to play in a politicised setting.”

He joined Shopping, Richard Dawson & Band and Gwenno, who have cancelled their performances at the three-day festival due to its connections with the Israeli government. Israel’s Berlin embassy contributes to funding.

Founder of the BDS campaign Omar Barghouti said the movement was succeeding in raising awareness of the “crimes” committed against Palestinians, with support for a cultural boycott of Israel growing.

He explained that more than 42 British bands now support the BDS campaign, refusing to perform in Israel or at events sponsored by Tel Aviv.

And more than 60 Spanish cities have declared themselves “free of Israeli apartheid” by refusing to deal with companies linked to the illegal occupation and crimes against the Palestinian people, according to Mr Barghouti.

“Israel is trying to cover up its crimes against our people by sponsoring art festivals around the world to appear as having interest in literature, art and culture,” he said.

The Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) said that Israel’s sponsorship of arts and cultural events, including international festivals, was an attempt to “art-wash its image abroad,” and it urged artists to withdraw from Pop-Kultur.

“For a supposedly progressive festival to accept sponsorship from a decades-old regime of oppression and apartheid like Israel’s is unethical and hypocritical,” it said in a statement.

Israel published a blacklist of supporters of the BDS movement in January, passing an anti-boycott law banning them from entering the country.

European and US-based campaign organisations, including Britain’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign and War on Want, appeared to be the main targets, though politicians who support the BDS campaign could also find themselves banned from entering Israel.

International support for the campaign has grown with the murder of more than 120 unarmed protesters by Israeli snipers during recent demonstrations in the occupied territories.

The killings have prompted a United Nations investigation for possible war crimes and drawn global condemnation.


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