Festival of pop culture: in the shadow of hatred for Israel – Belltower.News

There are actually many reasons to celebrate Pop-Kultur 2022 in Berlin. After a two-year hiatus in Corona, the International Art and Music Festival will be held again on August 24-26 in Kulturbrauerei. Some works that could not be shown in 2020 due to the pandemic are now gaining an audience. This year, the focus is also on queer and (post) migrant artists, especially from the African diaspora. Counteracting the Eurocentric orientation has always been a major concern of the festival, which was launched in 2015. Pop culture also wants to be as barrier-free as possible: the festival offers “Inkluthek”, an online multimedia library without barriers. Some of the concerts and panels will be translated into sign language on the spot. The sign poet Mila Hergert will also appear with her poem “Schnauzer voll”.

But two days before the start of the Pop-Kultur 2022 festival, it was overshadowed by Israel’s hatred of a targeted BDS campaign. Again. BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is an international anti-Semitic campaign co-initiated by terrorist organizations such as Hamas and the PFLP to isolate Israel’s political, economic and cultural isolation. BDS even created its own website and posters for the boycott campaign against the festival: “Partnered with Apartheid” is written on the posters in the same style as the festival advertisement.

The plan works: On August 22, the teams Trustfall and Lafawndah announced on Instagram that they had canceled their participation in the festival in a short time. According to organizers, Egyptian-Ethiopian rapper Alewya and queer singer-producer Franky Gogo have also canceled their appearances due to the BDS campaign, but have yet to comment on social media.

The statements by Trustfall and Lafawndah – a series of sharepicks that appeared almost simultaneously and are visually almost identical – consist of the usual anti-Semitic accusations of the BDS bubble: Israel is a racist child-killing apartheid state that apparently embodies all evil in the world. On the other hand, the Palestinian people are only oppressed victims, with no responsibility for the status quo in the Middle East. Despite all the nuances and complexities of the conflict that has been going on for decades.

The London-based artist Trustfall criticizes the fact that the pop culture festival receives funding from the “Israeli regime.” As the logo of the Israeli embassy appeared on the website shortly before the festival began, he felt he was lured into a trap. For Berlin’s cultural senator Klaus Lederer, he finds harsh tones: Lederer not only adapted the festival “ideologically to an apartheid state”, but also showed “a broader commitment to the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people.”

The “Palestine and Israel” issue is not complicated, says Trustfall: “The former is an expropriated people living in an open-air prison, the latter is an ethnic colonial state receiving a blank moral check from world leaders.” Not only does he urge other artists to cancel their performances, but also visitors to stay away from the festival.

Experimental musician Lafawndah from Paris writes in his statement that he is against all forms of racism and discrimination – including anti-Semitism. However, the pop culture festival “whitewashed” crimes committed by Israel, such as the murder of Palestinian children. The festival supports “racism, colonial brutality and murder,” the artist continued.

Lafawndah refers to the highly controversial label of apartheid used by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem. He also criticizes the BDS resolution of the German Bundestag, which he re-interprets as condemning “calls by the Palestinian people to hold Israel accountable under international law.” Lafawndah also seems to be encouraged by the Cosmopolitan GG 5.3 initiative, which criticized the Bundestag’s decision on BDS in an open letter of 2020.

The BDS movement has been campaigning against the pop culture festival for years (Source: Screenshot)

The accusations by the artists weigh heavy – but quickly turn out to be absurd. Is Israel pursuing a secret plan to fund an experimental culture festival in Berlin to distract attention from “infanticide” and “apartheid” at home? And cultural senator Lederer wants to ideologically reconcile the festival with this alleged “apartheid state” and is involved in the oppression of the Palestinians? Crude theses for which there is no evidence.

First of all, the statements of French and British artists sound like rehearsed statements from the BDS campaign. And they show how deep the hatred of Israel is: not only do they want to boycott the Jewish state, but every event that even a shekel from Jerusalem receives. They are not concerned with criticizing various Israeli governments, which is unfortunately very much needed, but with delegitimizing the Israeli state as a racist enterprise. This is anti-Semitic.

In fact, the festival is financed not by Israel, but by the Department of Culture and Europe of the Berlin Senate, from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media (BKM). According to the festival’s statement about the boycott, individual artists may receive support from their country’s national cultural institute or embassy to travel or implement their projects – a common practice in international cultural exchange, the organizers emphasize. * Inside.

For example, the culture department of the Israeli embassy funded a commissioned work in Pop-Kultur 2022 with a project grant of € 5,000, as requested Berlin newspaper communicates. It’s about the “BĘÃTFÓØT feat.” Kunty Klub ”, an Israeli rave trio supported by a queer dance group. The artists will appear at the festival in Germany for the first time. Governmental institutions in Canada and Belgium should also support artists with scholarships. The list of other partnerships with media houses and businesses is long.

The pop culture festival now wants to defend itself against the allegations of Trustfall and Lafawndah: it only put the logo of state subsidies on the Internet after all these institutions had pledged their support. The festival counterattacks that the fact that individual artists may receive support from cultural institutions was already communicated in the booking offers in December 2021. “In communicating with the artists, it refers to previous BDS campaigns related to the festival,” she continues.

In the case of the BDS campaign, it’s all just details. Because the people behind it are concerned about splitting up the cultural scene and putting the boycott of Israel high on the agenda. With previous cancellations, your plan seems to be working quite well so far. On the other hand, the very real suffering of the Palestinians will not be alleviated by the boycott action. Since its inception in 2005, the BDS has had little influence on the course of the Middle East conflict. But at least in universities and in the cultural sector, the campaign has proven to be an active player, gripping a wide range of topics. Concerts in Israel are canceled, Israeli academics are removed from conferences in other countries, and Jewish artists are asked to position themselves in the Middle East conflict.

BDS is not attacking a pop culture festival for the first time: in 2017, 2018 and 2019, the festival became the target of anti-Semitic campaigns aimed at economic, cultural and political isolation of the Jewish state. Also at that time, the Israeli embassy supported individual artists with small, almost symbolic travel grants ranging from € 500 to € 1,200. BDS activists specifically addressed the invited artists and pressured them to cancel their performances. Successful: BDS made a coup in 2017 with the dismissal of the UK’s Young Fathers headliner. A year later, twelve artists appealed. During the panel discussion on the boycott, BDS activists insulted the cultural senator Lederer, there were destructive actions, calls for “apartheid” and “racists” and small fights.

We’ll see if such scenes come back this year. But the damage has already been done. As a result, an exciting and innovative cultural festival suffers above all.

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