Open letter to UK artists booked for Pop-Kultur Berlin 2019


Dear UK artists booked for Pop-Kultur Berlin festival 2019,

Artists for Palestine UK has joined the call from Palestinians, and also from Israeli artists and Israeli human rights defenders, and from LGBTQI+ campaigners in Berlin, for participating artists to withdraw from Pop-Kultur Berlin 2019, in protest at the festival’s continued partnership with the Israeli embassy.

As you may know, the far-right Israeli government cynically exploits the arts to improve its image abroad and to distract from state-sanctioned discrimination and violence against millions of Palestinians on the basis of their identity. For this reason, Palestinians asked Pop-Kultur Berlin to end its partnership with the Israeli state.

Art matters. The arts should not be used to whitewash a regime whose apartheid character has become explicit and undeniable.

We hope that UK-based artists who are scheduled to appear at Pop-Kultur Berlin 2019 will chose to stand with Palestinian artists and their audiences – be they living under military occupation in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem or Gaza, be they living as second class citizens within Israel’s borders in historic Palestine, or in exile in the refugee camps and in the diaspora. 

Last year, Israel targeted and completely destroyed the al-Mishal Cultural Centre in Gaza. The UN has found that photo-journalists in Gaza have been deliberately targeted and shot by Israeli army snipers since 2018. Palestinian photographers and journalists in the occupied West Bank and Jersualem are routinely harassed, assaulted and arrested while trying to do their job.  Palestinian on-line space is heavily policed and many face arrest simply for reporting on their own experience.  For example, a Palestinian poet was recently released from almost three years in jail and under house arrest for the ‘crime’ of posting one of her poems on Facebook. 

The Israeli state has buried and erased Palestinian cultural heritage since its founding, and today the government is systematically removing historic documents from its own archives in order to conceal proof of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948. Two weeks ago the Israeli state blew up 13 Palestinian apartment blocks in occupied East Jerusalem, demonstrating the impunity with which Israel continues ethnic cleansing policies in plain sight, confident that our government/s will not press for sanctions in order to defend the Palestinian population.

As with South African apartheid, when all avenues for seeking justice have been exhausted, boycott is a non-violent weapon of the weak against the powerful. Our strength lies in our collectivity. We urge you to join the fourteen artists from six countries, including eight from the UK, who withdrew from the last two editions of the festival following appeals. Please support the Palestinian call, and to refuse Pop-Kultur Berlin’s normalization of Israeli apartheid.

Yours sincerely,

Artists for Palestine UK

Photo credit: Palestinian band ‘Al-Anqaa’ play in the ruins of the Al-Mishal cultural centre, Gaza, shortly after the Israeli military destroyed it in  August 2018 (©MEE/Mohammed Asad)

Israeli artists: Boycott Pop-Kultur Berlin festival

We are proud to publish the following open letter from Israeli artists in support of the Palestinian call to boycott Pop-Kultur Berlin festival.

[Deutscher Text folgt dem Englischen]

‘As Israeli artists, musicians, and filmmakers, we support the Palestinian call to boycott Pop-Kultur Berlin festival 2019, given its complicity with Israel’s racist regime. 

So long as Pop Kultur continues to have the Israeli embassy as a partner, all appearances at the festival will be exploited by the Israeli government as part of its efforts to whitewash its occupation and rebrand itself through culture.

We recognise that there is an urgent moral need to end the Israeli government’s decades-long oppression of millions of Palestinians, and that boycotts rooted in international law and universal principles of human rights are a legitimate, nonviolent, time-honoured tactic. 

We are dismayed that the festival director last year wrongly condemned BDS as “antisemitic” in defending their partnership with the Israeli embassy. Even Avi Primor, himself a former Israeli ambassador to Germany, agrees that “the leitmotiv of the BDS movement is justice for the Palestinians”. 

We agree with 240 Jewish and Israeli scholars who called on the German government not to endorse the recent anti-Palestinian Bundestag resolution that falsely equated the BDS movement for Palestinian rights with bigotry, adding that they “are shocked that demands for equality and compliance with international law are considered antisemitic”.

We also agree with Ishay Rosen Zvi, a Talmud professor at Tel Aviv University, who decried the attempts in Germany and elsewhere “to erase differences between criticism of Zionism, criticism of Israel, criticism of the policies of the government of Israel and antisemitism”.’


Aviad Albert, musician

Dror Dayan, filmmaker and film scholar

Ohal Grietzer, musician

Avi Hershkovitz, film director

Liad Hussein Kantorowicz, performance artist

Jonathan Ofir, violinist and conductor

Michal Peleg, author 

Ben Ronen, visual artist

Michal Sapir, writer and musician

Yonatan Shapira, musician

Professor Eyal Sivan, filmmaker

Oriana Weich, artist

Eyal Weizman, artist and architect

Karen Zack, photographer

Israelische Künstler*innen unterstützen den Boykott des Pop-Kultur Berlin Festival 2019

‘Als israelische Künstler*innen, Musiker*innen und Filmemacher*innen unterstützen wir den Aufruf der Palästinenser*innen, das Festival Pop-Kultur Berlin 2019 zu boykottieren angesichts seiner Komplizenschaft mit dem rassistischen Regime Israels.

Solange Pop-Kultur weiterhin die israelische Botschaft als Partner hat, werden alle Auftritte bei dem Festival von der israelischen Regierung instrumentalisiert, um die Besatzung zu übertünchen und sich durch Kultur neu zu profilieren.

Wir halten es für moralisch unabdingbar, dass die jahrzehntelange Unterdrückung von Millionen von Palästinenser*innen durch die israelische Regierung beendet werden muss, und dass Boykotte, die im Völkerrecht und in den universellen Prinzipien der Menschenrechte verankert sind, eine legitime, gewaltfreie und bewährte Taktik sind.

Wir sind bestürzt darüber, dass der Festivaldirektor im vergangenen Jahr den BDS zu Unrecht als “antisemitisch” verurteilt hat, um seine Partnerschaft mit der israelischen Botschaft zu verteidigen. Selbst Avi Primor, ehemaliger israelischer Botschafter in Deutschland, stimmt zu: “Das Leitmotiv der BDS-Bewegung ist Gerechtigkeit für die Palästinenser“.

Wir stimmen mit 240 jüdischen und israelischen Wissenschaftler*innen überein, die die Bundesregierung aufforderten, den jüngsten anti-palästinensischen Beschluss des Bundestages, in dem die BDS-Bewegung für die Rechte der Palästinenser*innen fälschlicherweise mit Rassismus gleichgesetzt wurde, nicht zu unterstützen. Sie fügten hinzu, dass sie “entsetzt darüber sind, dass Forderungen nach Gleichberechtigung und der Einhaltung des Völkerrechts als antisemitisch angesehen werden “.

Wir stimmen auch mit Ishay Rosen Zvi, einem Talmud-Professor an der Universität Tel Aviv, überein, der anprangerte, dass sowohl in Deutschland als auch anderswo versucht wird, “die Unterschiede zwischen Kritik am Zionismus, Kritik an Israel, Kritik an der Politik der Regierung Israels und Antisemitismus zu beseitigen”.’

Unterzeichnet von

Aviad Albert, Musiker

Dror Dayan, Filmemacher und Filmwissenschaftler

Ohal Grietzer, Musikerin

Avi Hershkovitz, Filmregisseur

Liad Hussein Kantorowicz, Performance-Künstlerin

Jonathan Ofir, Violinist und Dirigent

Michal Peleg, Autorin

Ben Ronen, Bildender Künstler

Michal Sapir, Schriftstellerin und Musikerin

Yonatan Shapira, Musiker

Professor Eyal Sivan, Filmemacher

Oriana Weich, Kulturschaffende

Eyal Weizman, Künstler und Architekt

Karen Zack, Photographin