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Barclays ties with Israel see UK bands withdraw from another music festival

June 13, 2024 at 4:43 pm

Andy Copping announces the line-up for Download Festival 2024 at the launch party on November 07, 2023 in London, England. [Photo by Shane Anthony Sinclair/Getty Images]

Several bands have withdrawn from the Download music festival in protest against Barclaycard being its official payment partner, citing Barclays bank’s financial services provided to arms companies supplying Israel. Download is the UK’s largest rock, metal and punk festival, and is scheduled for to start today. It lists Barclaycard among its sponsors, which include Liquid Death and Red Bull.

“We cannot sacrifice the principles held by this band and by the scene we come from and represent, just for personal gain,” said Leeds band Pest Control. Punk bands Speed, Scowl and Zulu followed Pest Control’s lead and also withdrew from the festival, criticising Barclays for the financial services it provides to companies linked to the occupation state.

British metalcore band Ithaca also joined the boycott this week. “Once we were made aware of Barclays’ involvement in Download, we knew we could no longer participate,” the band told the Guardian. “This moment of solidarity is an opportunity for festival organisers to reflect carefully on who they take money from and see that the younger generation of bands will no longer be silent.”

READ: Oxfam seeks to intervene in judicial review of UK arms sales to Israel

The bands’ decisions follow a widespread boycott of Brighton’s Barclaycard-sponsored Great Escape festival in May, when more than 100 acts pulled out.

Barclays has faced renewed criticism from rights activists recently. This week, members of Palestine Action vandalised 15 branches of the bank in England and Scotland demanding that it must end its complicity in the ongoing genocide in Gaza. Windows were smashed and branches were sprayed with red paint, to highlight the blood being spilt as a result of Barclays’ investments in arms manufacturers, including Israel’s Elbit Systems.

A report released this month found that Barclays now holds over £2 billion in shares of companies whose weapons, components and military technology have been used against Palestinians by Israel. Barclays also provides over £6.1 billion in loans and underwriting to these arms and military technology companies, including holdings of £2.7 million in Elbit Systems. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) calls for a boycott of the bank over its “grave complicity” in Israel’s attacks on Palestinians. Barclays denies this allegation.

READ: Gaza: When 120 Palestinians were killed by Israel, most were from one family