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100 artists pull out of UK music festival in support of Gaza

May 15, 2024 at 4:49 pm

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather outside a branch of Barclays and condemn bankrolling arms companies making weapons and military technology used by Israel on Gaza, in London, United Kingdom on January 27, 2024 [Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu via Getty Images]

More than 100 acts have pulled out of the Great Escape music festival as the event is sponsored by Barclays, which activists say invests in arms companies that trade with Israel.

Some 500 artists normally take part in the annual music event in the seaside town of Brighton in the UK, however a large number have now pulled out in support of Palestinians in Gaza.

The move comes as a part of the Bands Boycott Barclays campaign. In a statement, the group said: “Barclays is bankrolling the genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and then laundering its reputation by partnering with music festivals like the Great Escape. As musicians, we think that’s despicable.”

Barclays has been the subject of a number of protests, with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) among the groups calling for its customers to move their funds away from the bank which holds “substantial financial ties” with arms companies supplying weapons to Israel.

A report released earlier this month found that Barclays now holds over £2 billion ($2.5 billion) in shares of companies whose weapons, components and military technology have been used in violence against Palestinians by Israel. Barclays also provides over £6.1 billion ($7.6 billion) in loans and underwriting to these arms and military technology companies. This includes holding £2.7 million ($3.36 million) in Elbit Systems, which supplies the Israeli military with armoured drones, munitions and artillery weapons used in its attacks in Gaza.

Denying such reports, the bank says on its website: “Barclays has been the subject of criticism in relation to Gaza based on two arguments: that Barclays is an investor in these businesses, and that we provide a range of financial services to clients which produce equipment used by the Israeli Defence Force.”

“We have been asked why we invest in nine defence companies supplying Israel, but this mistakes what we do. We trade in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand and that may result in us holding shares. We are not making investments for Barclays and Barclays is not a “shareholder” or “investor” in that sense in relation to these companies.”

READ: Thousands cut ties with Barclays over ‘its complicity with Israeli genocide, apartheid’