June 14, 2018 | The Jerusalem Post

U.S. and U.K. Bands Boycott Berlin Event Due to Israeli Embassy Donation

US singer John Maus announced his withdrawal from the Berlin Pop-Kultur music festival due to pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.

He is the fourth musical act to boycott the event because the Israeli Embassy is a small sponsor of the August international festival.

The festival wrote on its website earlier this month that Maus pulled the plug on his appearance because the singer does not wish “to play within a politicized setting.”

In response to calls to boycott the festival from the international BDS-Network and the Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel as well as the Germany-based Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, British bands Shopping and Gwenno, and British musician Richard Dawson & Band, have canceled their performance.

The Pop-Kultur festival wrote on its website: “As it was in 2017, Pop-Kultur has once again been declared a boycott target of the international BDS-Network…

The goal of this campaign is the economic, cultural, and political isolation of Israel.

We have received e-mails requesting that the official cooperation with the Israeli Embassy be discontinued and that the embassy’s logo, which is included on our website as a measure of transparency and represents the travel and accommodation contribution of €1,200, be taken offline. Various artists have also received messages in which they were asked to boycott the festival.

“We will collaborate with the Israeli embassy this year because our 2018 lineup includes three Israeli artists.

We will receive a total travel and accommodation contribution of €1,200 from the embassy. Currently the Israeli embassy is one of three festival partners contributing artist and travel support.

The Bureau Export is contributing €3,400 for six French artists, and the British Council is contributing £18,000 to the Project ‘Mix the City’ to be presented at Pop-Kultur.

This type of collaboration is common at festivals, events, and exhibitions of all genres.”

The festival added in its statement that “Pop-Kultur maintains a clear and steadfast position: We are not intimidated by boycotts. If there are artists who don’t want to perform at our festival because we receive travel and accommodation support from the Israeli embassy in Berlin, we very much regret that. However, the boycott, the refusal to perform, is not our decision.

“We are always open to engaging in constructive dialogue.

We believe that discourse and dialogue are the only means through which to deal with conflicts in this world. We as cultural workers have a special responsibility for establishing networks across borders, even when we disagree,” it said.

The German Bank for Social Economy is embroiled in a scandal alleging that it enables the antisemitic BDS campaign by providing an account to Jewish Voice for a Just Peace, which enables it to fund raise to boycott Israel.

Numerous email queries by The Jerusalem Post to Harald Schmitz, the Bank for Social Economy chairman, were not returned.

In February, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan told the Post: “As minister of strategic affairs, I am leading an international campaign to defend Israel from the BDS movement’s hateful attacks against Israel’s right to exist. This stance against BDS has been adopted by our close friends in Germany, including the CDU [Christian Democratic Union] and municipalities such as Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich.

I call on the Bank for Social Economy to join the many German institutions, leaders and citizens who are uniting to reject the discriminatory and antisemitic boycott movement against Israel,” The United Israel Appeal – the premier Israeli public fund-raising global organization to advance the security of the Jewish state – announced several weeks ago that its German branch will wind down business with the Bank for Social Economy because the financial institution enables the BDS movement targeting Israel.

German LGBT organization, the Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation, terminated its account with the Bank for Social Economy in April due to the bank’s anti-Israel activities.

International human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center may also include Schmitz and his deputies Oliver Luckner and Thomas Kahleis on its 2018 list for the top-ten outbreaks of antisemitism and hatred of the Jewish state. Post queries to the Israeli Embassy were not immediately returned.

Over the last 30 days, two German intelligence reports classified boycotts of Israel as antisemitic and resembling the Nazi-era “Don’t buy from Jews” campaign.

Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.

Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD. FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.