Don’t play Berlin Pop-Kultur under Israeli Embassy sponsorship!


‘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

Dear colleagues:

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But now that you do know, will you follow the example of the musicians who have withdrawn from Pop-Kultur in the past few days?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.


[1] Mohammad Abu Hajar of Mazzaj Rap Band statement AboHajjar/posts/ 1140412246092081 11/boycott-pop-kultur- festival-%D9%85%D9%82%D8%A7% D8%B7%D8%B9%D8%A9-%D9%85%D9% 87%D8%B1%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%86-% D8%A8%D9%88%D8%A8-%D9%83%D9% 88%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B1/

[2] Islam Chipsy statement IslamChipsy/posts/ 1927727820831317

[3] Hello Psychaleppo statement hellopsychaleppo/photos/a. 361804430497398.95903. 355020547842453/ 1622969744380854/?type=1& theater

[4] Emel Mathlouthi statement Mathlouthi/posts/ 10159247009645626

Background on Emel Mathlouthi music/2017/feb/24/tunisian- musician-emel-mathlouthi- global-protest-pop

23.08.2017: Young Fathers is the 8th act (and the 3rd UK act) to release a statement announcing their cancellation of their appearance at Pop-Kultur Berlin over Israel Embassy partnership.
22.08.2017: Oranssi Pazuzu is the 7th act to withdraw from Pop-Kultur Berlin.
Thurston Moore, who appeared at the festival in 2016,  tweets his support for artists who have cancelled in solidarity with Palestinians, and urges Pop-Kultur to drop the Israeli funding.
20.08.2017: UK based Annie Goh is the 6th artist to withdraw from an appearance at Pop-Kutur. She has issued a statement via Facebook. 

17.08.2017: Iklan, featuring Law Holt, are the first UK band to respond to Palestinians’ appeal to withdraw from Israeli-sponsored festival
Brian Eno and Roger Waters have told Artists for Palestine UK they endorse APUK’s open letter (below) to Pop-Kultur musicians 



4 thoughts on “Don’t play Berlin Pop-Kultur under Israeli Embassy sponsorship!

  1. Zoe says:

    It is not surprising that this first band you have listed here (Starts w/ word ‘Arab’) is playing this despite the call to honour BDS. Given their completely Orientalist racist name which I have found objectionable from the time I first heard it (despite liking the way they sound musically & loving other bands from that scene like Mogwai).

    The Victorian sexualising of Arabs by associating everything & anything sexual w/ the word ‘Arab’ (which has it’s roots in even earlier Orientalism) is not only extremely offensive to us but it impacts the daily lives of Arab women the world over in a detrimental manner (which I do not have time to go into here).


    • Artists for Palestine UK says:

      Dear Mea, I’m not clear what point you are making. Most of the artists, including the important statement by Mazzaj Rap which you supply, say they are making a stand against oppression – that is, oppression by Israel of Palestinians.

      Our own statement, by Artists for Palestine UK, says what exactly what we want to say.



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