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Musicians, artists withdraw from music festival in Berlin due to Israel partnership

August 25, 2022 at 2:48 pm

Lafawndah attends the Lanvin Menswear Fall/Winter 2020-2021 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 19, 2020 in Paris, France [Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]

Several American, English and French singers have pulled out of Berlin’s Pop Kultur Festival due to the event’s partnership with the city’s Cultural Department of the Embassy of Israel.

French singer, Lafawndah, withdrew from this week’s Pop-Kultur Festival shortly before the start of the pop culture festival yesterday, after she condemned the organiser’s support for racism, colonial brutality and murder.

In addition to expressing support for reports authored by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem, slamming Israel as an apartheid regime, she said, “Palestinian artists and activists, many Jewish organisations around the world, Israeli artists and Berlin-based queer activists have all urged Pop-Kultur participants to cancel their appearances.”

“Just last week, Israel admitted killing five Palestinian children with an airstrike, including four children from a single family. In its three day assault, Israel killed 47+ Palestinians in Gaza. By continuing its partnership with Israel, Pop-Kultur knowingly whitewashes these crimes. The Festival’s stance is an effective show of support for racism, colonial brutality and murder, despite its savvy marketing language, touting inclusion, diversity and tolerance.”

She also accused the Festival organisers of “concealing” the event’s connection with the Israeli embassy, writing: “The fact that Pop-Kultur had concealed this partnership as recently as three weeks ago is a source of profound frustration for myself and I am sure many other artists.”

Following next was the UK singer-songwriter, Alewya, known for her trap music and Afro beats, who also cancelled her participation due to the event’s partnership with Israel.

She wrote on her Instagram story, “Free Palestine. every. Fucking. Day. Until it is done.”

Additional artists who have also pulled out from the event include Parisian musician, Franky Gogo, and the singer, Trustfall, who had been due to perform alongside Lafawndah.

In response to the calls for boycott, this year’s Festival organisers said in a statement, “Pop-Kultur is funded by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe of the State of Berlin, the European Fund for Regional Development and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. Individual artists can receive support from the national cultural institute or embassy of their respective country for travel and the realisation of their projects – this is a common practice within international cultural exchange.

Alewya performs during the first day of All Points East Festival 2021 at Victoria Park on August 28, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

Alewya performs during the first day of All Points East Festival 2021 at Victoria Park on August 28, 2021 in London, England [Jim Dyson/Getty Images]

“We work with all countries officially recognised by the Federal Republic of Germany. Partners and sponsors have no influence over the programming of the Festival. The support of cultural institutions of individual countries depends on the artistic decisions made in the process of programming the festival.

“The Commissioned Work BĘÃTFÓØT feat. Kunty Klub receives a project grant from the Cultural Department of the Embassy of Israel. Currently, the Embassy of Israel is one of three institutions providing artist and travel support. The corresponding logos for these grants were uploaded to our website after; either we received confirmation of the support from the institutions mentioned, or we knew that we could expect a positive decision.”

The Festival’s statement concluded, “Pop-Kultur’s position is the same as in 2017, 2018 and 2019. If people do not want to perform at the Festival because we receive an accommodation, travel or project grant from the Cultural Department of the Israeli embassy in Berlin, we regret that decision, but we accept it. The refusal to perform, the boycott, is not our decision. We are always open to constructive dialogue, because it is important to us to seek out meaningful exchange.”

READ: Palestine exposes the limits of free-speech and the morally bankrupt ‘cancel culture’