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Young Fathers axed from German festival over support for pro-Palestine movement

By | Published on Thursday 14 June 2018

Young Fathers

Young Fathers have criticised a German festival for dropping them from its bill because of their support for the pro-Palestine Boycott, Divestment And Sanctions movement. BDS is a campaigning group that says it is working “to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law”.

Organisers of Ruhrtriennale, an arts festival that takes place in former industrial buildings in the Ruhr Area of Germany, seemingly asked Young Fathers to distance themselves from the BDS movement. When they declined to do so, the festival – despite acknowledging that criticism of Israel does not constitute anti-Semitism – decided to cancel the group’s show.

The festival’s Artistic Director, Stefanie Carp, stated: “Regrettably, Young Fathers have not distanced themselves from BDS. We explicitly do not conclude from this that the band is anti-Semitic, and – in this context – I consider it important to emphasise that criticism of the policy of the current Israeli government is not per se equivalent to anti-Semitism”.

“However”, Carp continued, “the Ruhrtriennale distances itself in all forms from the BDS movement and wishes to have absolutely no connection with the campaign. We have therefore decided to cancel the concert. We regret this immensely, because the Young Fathers would have set an important tone in the programme of the Ruhrtriennale”.

Needless to say, Young Fathers are critical of the festival’s decision. In a statement issued to Artists For Palestine UK, they said: “We feel it is a wrong and deeply unfair decision by the festival to take this stance and to also ask us to distance ourselves from our human rights principles in order for the appearance to go ahead”.

They added: “Anyone who knows the band and our history will know we oppose all forms of hatred and racial discrimination. Always have. And we, like BDS, ‘do 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'”.

Concluding, the group wrote: “We support one of the only peaceful protests a person can take, in the hope to achieve a just and comprehensive peace that allows Palestinian refugees the right to return to a safe homeland, and that allows Israelis and Palestinians of all faiths (and none) to live together in peace”.

Artists For Palestine have been tweeting messages for various other artists and writers supporting Young Fathers and likewise criticising the decision of Ruhrtriennale.

Among them is Brian Eno, who writes: “To criticise the Israeli government after the recent killings of unarmed Palestinian protestors is not anti-Semitism – it is pro-civilisation, speaking out in favour of civilised behaviour and against state brutality. It is standing up and saying: ‘The rule of law applies everywhere'”.