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German Music and Arts Festival Defies Boycotters, Accepts Sponsorship by Israeli Embassy

Organizers of a major music and arts festival in Berlin defied pressure from the anti-Semitic boycotts movement, which protested the event’s sponsorship by the Israeli Embassy in Germany, as the three-day event opened on Wednesday, Ben Cohen reported in The Algemeiner.

The organizers of the Pop-Kultur Festival said in a statement they would not be “intimidated” by the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign that advocates for the total destruction of the Jewish State.

“This type of cooperation is common practice at festivals, exhibitions and events of all genres in international cultural exchange,” the festival said. It stressed the “festival’s role in overcoming boundaries and creating room for dialogue.”

Six artists announced in July that they would not travel to the festival, after the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) — a group formed in 2004 to oppose “Israel’s colonial oppression of the Palestinian people…based on Zionist ideology” —called for a boycott of the event. The Israeli embassy had awarded three Israeli artists $1,370 to cover their travel and accommodation costs for the festival.

Germany’s newly-appointed federal commissioner to combat anti-Semitism, Felix Klein, strongly condemned attempts by the boycotts movement to politicize the event. “The BDS movement is anti-Semitic in its actions and goals,” Klein told the Jüdische Allgemeine weekly. “The activists are trying to isolate Israel and to defame it as an alleged apartheid state.”

The official observed that “BDS also takes Israeli citizens hostage and blames them for the actions of the Israeli government. I condemn all this in the strictest terms.” Klein further charged that the movement was an impediment to peace.

“BDS rejects dialogue with opponents and marks them out,” he explained. “Yet in a democracy it is essential to compete for the best argument in a two-way conversation. If the BDS movement really wanted to stand up for the legitimate concerns of the Palestinians, as it always claims, it would not act in the way that it does.”

The Pop -Kultur Festival is a major music event in Europe for musical groups, DJ’s and visual artists. Performers at this year’s festival include rapper Ms. Banks, punk-era legend Vivien Goldman and singers Ava Bonam and Neneh Cherry.

In a related story, in June the Ruhrtriennale festival, in western Germany, announced that it was cancelling an August concert by the Scottish band Young Fathers, because of the group’s participation in BDS, the anti-Israel boycott campaign.

In November of last year, German public broadcaster WDR cancelled plans to air concerts by former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters — a leading proponent of BDS — due to accusations that Waters is anti-Semitic.

[Photo: Pop-Kultur Berlin / YouTube ]