Musicians from Egypt, Syria and Tunisia pulled the plug on their participation in next week’s Berlin Pop-Kultur music festival because of Israel‘s role in sponsoring its artists to appear.
Klaus Lederer, who oversees the city’s cultural agency, said on Tuesday that the “call to boycott the festival with fake news about an alleged co-financing of the festival by the State of Israel is disgusting and appalls me.”
The festival organizers denied that Israel is either a co-organizer or a co-financier of the three-day event.
The bands that pulled out of the festival are: Mazzaj Rap Band-Syria, Hello Psychaleppo from Syria, and EEK featuring Islam Chipsy from Egypt, as well as Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi.
According to the festival’s organizers, “The BDS campaign imposed immense pressure on all Arab artists in our line-up.” The German branch of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting the Jewish state had been in contact with the Arab bands.
Last year, the Munich-based bank DAB closed the account of the Berlin-based BDS Campaign because the account violated France’s anti-discrimination law. French banking giant BNP Paribas owns DAB.
The German government, the city of Berlin, the EU and other organizations are listed as co-sponsors of the festival. Israel’s embassy covered travel costs for artists from the country. The festival said Israel contributed €500 to pay for the transportation of Israeli artists.
Berlin Mayor Michael Müller, from the Social Democratic Party, did not immediately respond to a Jerusalem Post inquiry. Müller has been under fire this year for ignoring rising Iranian regime, Hezbollah and Palestinian antisemitism targeting Israel in his city.
Mazzaj Rap Band-Syria wrote on its website: “It did not take us a minute to know what we had to do; we will not participate in a festival that…