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Brian Eno, Thurston Moore condemn German festival for cancelling Young Fathers over BDS support


Brian Eno and Thurston Moore are among those supporting UK group Young Fathers, who have had a performance cancelled by the Ruhrtriennale festival in Germany over their support for Palestinian human rights.

The festival yesterday announced the cancellation of Young Fathers’ performance after a failed attempt to get the group to distance themselves from supporting the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated, Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) human rights movement.

Young Fathers have now reaffirmed their support for Palestinian rights and the BDS movement in a statement published by Artists for Palestine UK: “We feel it is a wrong and deeply unfair decision by the festival to take this stance and to also ask us to distance ourselves from our human rights principles in order for the appearance to go ahead.

Anyone who knows the band and our history will know we oppose all forms of hatred and racial discrimination. Always have. And we, like BDS, ‘do not tolerate any act or discourse which adopts or promotes, among others, anti-Black racism, anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, xenophobia, or homophobia.’”

Brian Eno and Thurston Moore are among those who have added their voices in support of the group, using the hashtag #SupportYoungFathers. Eno said: “To criticise the Israeli government after the recent killings of unarmed Palestinian protestors is not antisemitism. It is pro-civilisation – speaking out in favour of civilised behaviour and against state brutality. It is standing up and saying: ‘The rule of law applies everywhere’.”

Thurston Moore wrote: “Join hands. Get with it. #SupportYoungFathers”.

Other artists have condemned Ruhrtriennale’s decision, including actor Miriam Margolyes, playwright Caryl Churchill, filmmakers Ken Loach and Paul Laverty, and writers Ahdaf Soueif, Yann Martel and Molly Crabapple.

Young Fathers were one of eight artists to withdraw from Pop-Kultur festival in Berlin in 2017 over the festival’s partnership with the Israeli embassy. This year, four artists including John Maus have so far withdrawn for the same reason. Brian Eno has called the partnership “a whitewash”.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), a founding member of the BDS National Committee, the largest Palestinian civil society coalition, have now called for the boycott of Ruhrtriennale festival:“We urge conscientious artists to #SupportYoungFathers and boycott @ruhrtriennale festival in solidarity. Its shameful McCarthyism and desperate attempt to shield Israel’s regime of apartheid, occupation and ethnic cleansing from accountability are glaring forms of complicity.”

The BDS movement was founded in 2005 and has three aims: an end to Israel’s military occupation, equality for Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.