AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL UK MUSICIANS SCHEDULED TO APPEAR IN BERLIN AUGUST 23 – 25, 2017
‘Art goes beyond a single act on a stage; it’s against all that is regressive and discriminatory in this world’
Mohammad Abu Hajar, Syrian rapper
When you signed up to play Berlin Pop-Kultur, you possibly didn’t know that the Israeli Embassy in Germany was a sponsor. Maybe you also don’t know that Palestinian civil society, living under Israeli military occupation or in exile, is appealing to artists not to take part in events sponsored by the state of Israel, in solidarity with the Palestinians’ long struggle for rights and freedom.
But now that you do know, will you follow the example of the musicians who have withdrawn from Pop-Kultur in the past few days?
For instance, Emel Mathlouthi, singer-songwriter of the Tunisian Revolution, who says:
I was looking forward to playing later this month in Berlin, until I realized the festival is sponsored by the Israeli embassy. Now that I know, I’ll have to pull out.
As things get tougher inside and outside Palestine, what each one of us can always do is show solidarity and empathy; as artists it starts by being true and faithful.
Emel Mathlouthi, 15 August 2017
And Mohammad Abu Najar, of the Syrian rap band Mazzaj, himself a refugee from the Assad regime in Germany, whose statement says:
To be consistent with our political commitment against any form of oppression, colonialism or discrimination we proudly declare our withdrawal from the festival as long as it endorses the discriminatory policies of the Israeli state by collaborating with [it] and displaying its logo.
We call for all the participating artists to take a similar position to prove that art is still a message that goes beyond a single act on a stage, that art is a position against all that is regressive and discriminatory in this world.
Mohammad Abu Hajar, 11 August 2017
Pop-Kultur says the Israeli Embassy’s logo is on its site because the Embassy are paying some musicians’ expenses, and they have no influence on content.
But that’s not the point. The point is that the state of Israel continues to dispossess the indigenous population of Palestine, and shows no sign of stopping. Abu Hajar says:
‘We will not participate in a festival that accepts partnership with a government which openly declared on many different occasions anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-Black attitudes.’
Dear colleagues, you know that you have the power to tell the Israeli government you disapprove of its actions. You have the power to tell the Palestinians they are not alone under occupation and in exile. Please use your power.
Please withdraw from Berlin Pop-Kultur.
Artists for Palestine UK
London, August 15, 2017
At the time of writing, the following UK artists are scheduled to appear at Pop-Kultur:
Arab Strap, Simone Butler, Shirley Collins, Darkstar, Christine Franz, Manuela Gernedel, Law Holt, IDLES, Iklan, Ian Keary, Lady Leshurr, David Laurie, Let’s Eat Grandma, Little Simz, Timothy London, Cieron Magat, Nick McCarthy, Anna Meredith, Piano Wire, Simon Price, Alexis Taylor, Throwing Shade, Typewriter-Klangwelten, Christian Vogel, Stephen Warwick, Rob Young, Young Fathers.