As so often occurs, allegations of antisemitism are being leveled at artists who have taken a principled decision not to participate in a cultural event which receives sponsorship from the Israeli state.
The 6th artist to withdraw from Berlin’s Pop-Kultur festival on August 23-25, Annie Goh, issued a statement via Facebook on August 20 explaining the reasons for her cancellation, criticising misinformation put out by Pop-Kultur’s organisers regarding the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and describing as ‘despicable’ smears against four Arab artists who withdrew from the festival.
Goh is the second UK Pop-Kultur participant to pull out following a call from Artists for Palestine UK, supported by Brian Eno and Roger Waters, to respect the Palestinian boycott call. Israeli citizens have also lent support to the boycott call.
Free Speech on Israel rejects the attacks on the Arab artists whose statements to the festival, cited in the APUK letter, make clear the humane and principled reasons for their protest.
By accepting sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy, Pop-Kultur festival enables Israel to use culture to sanitise and normalise an apartheid regime.
The cultural boycott is an anti-racist protest against that racist endeavour. In this case, the Israeli funding was kept secret until just before the festival, perhaps anticipating and hoping (as it turned out mistakenly) that they could avoid performers withdrawing from the festival in protest.
By falsely accusing them of antisemitic motives, festival organisers try to cover up their own complicity with the racist agenda of the ongoing “Brand Israel” campaign.
As a Jewish-led campaign, Free Speech on Israel asserts: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel is not antisemitic.