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A US musician, John Maus, became the fourth act to withdraw from Berlin’s international Pop-Kultur festival, in protest of the Israeli embassy funding for the event.
Pop-Kultur announced that the singer preferred “not to play within a politicized setting.”
Maus follows the British bands Shopping and Gwenno and the British musician Richard Dawson & Band, all of whom have also canceled their performances.
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The festival, entering its fourth year, has been under pressure since last year to break ties with the Israeli government, which, like other governments, contributes toward the costs of its participating artists.
The British band Shopping, which withdrew in June 2018 from the Pop-Kultur Berlin festival, in response to boycott pressures from anti-Israel activists. (YouTube screenshot)
Israel provided 500 euros (NIS 2,100 or $589) last year and 1,200 euros (NIS 5,043 or $1,414) for this year’s event.
Last month, the Palestinian Campaign For The Academic And Cultural Boycott Of Israel (PACBI) called for Pop-Kultur to be boycotted until it dropped Israeli sponsorship.
“Israel seeks associations with international festivals, such as Pop-Kultur Berlin, to art-wash its image abroad in the explicit attempt to distract attention from its crimes against Palestinians,” the organization charged.
“For a supposedly progressive festival to accept sponsorship from a decades-old regime of oppression and apartheid like Israel’s is unethical and hypocritical, to say the least,” it said.
Pop-Kultur said in a statement that its policy was to work with any country officially recognized by the German government and that it maintained a “clear and steadfast position” and was “not intimidated by boycotts.”
The statement continued, “If there are artists who don’t want to perform at our festival because we receive travel and accommodation support from the Israeli embassy in Berlin, we very much regret that. However, the boycott, the refusal to perform, is not our decision. We are always open to engaging in constructive dialogue. We believe that discourse and dialogue are the only means through which to deal with conflicts in this world. We as cultural workers have a special responsibility for establishing networks across borders, even when we disagree.”
BDS Argentina’s flier opposing the South American team’s soccer match with Israel. (via JTA)
Pressure brought to be bear by groups affiliated with the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement have scored several victories recently.
Earlier this month, following intense Palestinian pressure, Argentina pulled out of a highly anticipated soccer match against Israel, days before Lionel Messi and co were scheduled to be take to the pitch in Jerusalem.
And the New Zealand singer Lorde canceled a planned performance in Tel Aviv earlier this year, prompting an Israeli NGO, Shurat HaDin, to sue two New Zealanders for allegedly convincing the pop singer to pull out.
It appeared to be the first lawsuit filed under a contentious Israeli law passed in 2011, enabling legal action against anyone calling for a boycott against Israel, including of settlement goods.