Human Rights Violators should not be celebrated! Our Statement re: the Pop Culture Festival in Berlin

Human Rights Violators should not be celebrated! Our statement re: the Pop Culture Festival in Berlin

Solidarity with the Israeli regime rots the political and cultural atmosphere in Germany. Just recently the Open Source Festival, after having invited Talib Kweli, removed the singer from their schedule because he refused to distance himself from the BDS movement. The YAAM club in Berlin – inspired by the organizers in Düsseldorf – decided to put the same pressure on the US American rapper and activist by forcing him to censor his voice and criticism of the racist politics of Israel.

……………………..

Human Rights Violators should not be celebrated! Our statement re: the Pop Culture Festival in Berlin

The Pop Culture Festival in Berlin is celebrating its fifth year in August 2019 and is inviting everyone to join their so-called “artist dialogs“ and “international exchanges”. We see that the Israeli Embassy is yet again on their list of partners and sponsors.

Despite the many statements in past years from organizations such as PACBI (The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel), the Jewish Antifa, BDS Berlin and our own voice, as well as 14 international artists from 6 different countries refusing to take part, the festival is maintaining its loyalty to the Israeli government, true to the motto “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil“.

It comes as no surprise that participants didn’t boycott so far this year. The organizers of the festival carried out careful research before selecting whom to invite. On their website one reads that they want to encourage diversity and dialog, but we see only dialog on consensual topics. Any reflection on the motives for boycotting human rights violations receives no attention or exposure at all. One is reminded only too well of Germany’s close alliance with the Apartheid regime in South Africa, until it collapsed. This embarrassing and shameful tradition should have no place in a democratic society, especially at a time when right-wing forces are gaining power.

We, the Jewish Voice for a Just Peace, are again calling on the organizers of the Pop Culture Festival to sever their partnership with the Israeli Embassy. Solidarity with the Israeli regime rots the political and cultural atmosphere in Germany. Just recently the Open Source Festival, after having invited the singer Talib Kweli to participate, removed him from their schedule because he refused to distance himself from the BDS movement. The YAAM club in Berlin – inspired by the organizers in Düsseldorf – decided to put the same pressure on the US American rapper and activist by forcing him to modify his position and censor his criticism of the racist politics of Israel.

Following the Bundestag resolution of May 17th 2019, Germany declared the BDS movement to be “antisemitic” and decided to fight its representatives, a move that further restricts the space of democratic free speech in Germany. On the other hand, the bloody occupation politics of Israel have no problem finding allies in Germany and a space to move and speak freely. Their representatives feel empowered to whitewash the crimes of Israel and polish its image. The recent partnership with the CSD (Christopher Street Day) in Berlin shows the human- and queer-friendly image Israel is trying to project by white- and pinkwashing its politics.

The Pop Culture Festival organizer, Katja Lucker, said in an interview that they can’t solve the so called “Arab-Israeli conflict”. Indeed, that was never the task of a cultural festival. But we must insist that by accepting funding from a far-right state, one contributes to its politics and allies oneself with it. One is supporting and helping a government that is violating international law and human rights, and is oppressing Palestinian culture on a daily basis, hiding behind an image of diversity. At the end of the day, one is rewarding human rights violations.

The solidarity of your invited artists with Palestine should have encouraged you to respond to the inevitable criticisms of the Israeli State, to reconsider your sponsors, and to reflect on why the partnership with a far-right state fosters neither art, nor open and constructive dialog. Instead you and the German media decided to criticize the artists’ boycotts, and then to ignore them.

We’d like to encourage the invited artists to reconsider their participation, and not to show their talent and art on a stage that is partnered with the Israeli government. Further we want to empower all readers to write to the organizers of the Pop Culture Festival and to remind them why we will not tolerate a partnership with the Israeli Apartheid state.

To reuse the powerful words of the singer Talib Kweli “Any antiracism which excludes Palestinians isn’t antiracism at all”!

All good things come in three’s. We are calling on the organizers of the festival, yet again, not only to speak about a discursive space, but also to create one. After 14 invited artists refused to participate in your festival, after numerous calls for boycott in the last year and failed panel discussions, in which BDS and Palestinians were talked about rather than with, we feel that the organizers have more than sufficient reason to sever their partnership with the Israeli Embassy.

Bereich mit Anhängen