“[BDS] campaigns around the world present the most promising way to overcome the failure of world governments to stand up to Israel’s intransigence and lawless behavior”.
— Stephane Hessel, Holocaust survivor and co-author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Despite the growing number of cancellations facing Pop-Kultur Berlin festival due to the Israeli embassy’s sponsorship, the festival director told the German media that the question of dropping this sponsorship “really does not arise”.
This arrogant dismissal of the repeated criticism from Palestinians and progressive artists — that accepting this sponsorship constitutes an act of complicity in art-washing Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid — betrays apathy, and worse, to Palestinian human rights.
The Pop-Kultur festival insists it will “collaborate” with Israel despite its latest massacre in Gaza and what Amnesty International has condemned as its shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy. This indicates Pop-Kultur festival’s conscious collusion in the desperate attempts of Israel’s far-right regime to “rebrand” itself through art and culture.
The prominent composer and producer Brian Eno has called Pop-Kultur festival’s partnership with the Israeli embassy “a whitewash”.
The festival director’s shameless — and evidently baseless — attack on the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated BDS movement for Palestinian rights as “stupid” and “anti-Semitic” inherently reduces Palestinians to lesser humans, by slandering our nonviolent struggle to achieve freedom, justice and equality.
It is a racist attack on the most popular Palestinian-led human rights movement that is endorsed by the overwhelming majority of Palestinian civil society, including trade unions, cultural networks and women’s associations.
Conflating opposition to Israeli policies — illegal settlements, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, etc. — with anti-Jewish bigotry is a form of anti-Palestinian racism that is intended to silence critics of Israel. It also does a disservice to the ongoing struggles against real anti-Jewish racism, as progressive Jewish groups in Europe and the US have often argued.
Anchored in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 2005 Palestinian civil society Call for BDS categorically opposes all forms of racism and discrimination. BDS calls for nonviolent pressure, similar to that exerted on apartheid South Africa, to end Israel’s flagrant violations of international law and for safeguarding the human rights of the Palestinian people.
Adhering to the UN definition of racial discrimination, the BDS movement does not tolerate any act or discourse which adopts or promotes, among others, anti-Black racism, anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, xenophobia, or homophobia.
We reiterate our call for all progressive artists to withdraw from Pop-Kultur festival due to its partnership with the Israeli embassy and its now abundantly evident anti-Arab racism.
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