Annie Goh is is the 6th artist to withdraw from Berlin’s Pop-Kutur over sponsorship by Israel. She issued the following statement via Facebook today, which we reproduce below. Aside from making clear the reasons for her cancellation, she criticises the misinformation put out by Pop-Kultur’s organisers regarding BDS, and describes as ‘despicable’ smears against the four Arab artists who withdrew from the festival (their principled statements are reproduced in part on our blog here).
Like Goh, we at Artists for Palestine UK have been particularly appalled at the attacks on the Arab artists whose statements to the festival could not have been clearer or more humane in articulating the reason and the object of their protest.
I have decided to cancel my participation at the female:pressure panel at Pop-Kultur Festival on Fri 25th August 2017. As an artist and academic, I am taking a stand against participating in the festival due to its partial sponsorship by the Israeli embassy, in solidarity with Palestinians who have called for a boycott of Israeli state institutions until they adhere to international law.
BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaign want compliance of the Israeli state with international law and are fighting for basic human rights in Palestine. Contrary to the email sent around by the organizers to all festival participants, *BDS does not call for boycotts of individuals, only institutions*. This is a matter of structural violence and reading the campaign as aimed at boycotting or harassing individual artists is extremely misguided. As outlined by the artists Emel Mathlouthi, Mohammad Abu Hajar (Mazzaj Rap Band), Islam Chipsy, & Hello Psychaleppo who have begun the boycott of Pop-Kultur, Palestinians who are living under military occupation by Israel or in exile have been calling for artists not to take part in events sponsored by the Israeli state in solidarity with their extended fight against the oppression of the Palestinian people. I have taken the decision to join them as other artists have also since done (see attached link). Please also see this statement from Israeli citizens who are backing the Pop Kultur boycott too: http://boycottisrael.info/node/304
I have discussed the boycott with my fellow panelists on the female:pressure panel. We have clarified that due to differing political stances and personal/practical circumstances, the panel will go ahead without me. They respect my decision to boycott as I do theirs not to boycott. The issue of the harrowing rise of the far right is of course in the minds of us all, but I do not believe that this negates the necessity to show solidarity with Palestine. I understand that particularly those from a German and Austrian context will naturally have a different relationship to these issues than I do. Although we have broadly agreed as critics of Netanyahu and Likud, we have agreed to disagree on a few issues including the usefulness of the strategy of cultural boycotts.
Charges of “antisemitism” against the four Arab artists named above is despicable. As I have said to the festival organizers and my fellow panelists, as an avid anti-racist and anti-facist, which includes being strongly against anti-semitism and Islamophobia, I do not wish my actions to be unfairly read as “anti-semitic” and would be deeply aggrieved at such a reading. In no way are my actions an endorsement of antisemitic values, which I obviously abhor. Communication with festival organizers since my withdrawal has alluded to threats of violence against Israeli artists which are unfounded as BDS explicit foregrounds *non violent* protest. I am disappointed at the polarising language used in communications by Pop-Kultur to participants which unfairly depicts the BDS as putting pressure on Arab artists to boycott (this is not true) and warns us against their “propaganda” and use of “fake identities.” Whilst it helps that Pop-Kultur has clarified it is the modest sum of €500 they received from the Israeli embassy, whether €500 or €50000 no matter how big or small the sum is, it is nevertheless a political message which we have the option of acting upon.
This statement might seem a bit drawn out given my extremely minor role (!) at the festival. Nevertheless I wanted to clarify my decision and position on this very sensitive subject. I hope it goes without saying that I continue to respect and support the work of all my Israeli friends & acquaintances, as I do of my Palestinian ones. I believe that no matter how minor, we can all play a role by showing solidarity when we are able to. Love and solidarity to all of those fighting