German festival cancels Young Fathers concert for Israel boycott support

The festival asked the band to rescind its support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

June 13, 2018
German festival cancels Young Fathers concert for Israel boycott support Young Fathers   Photo by Julia Noni

Ruhrtriennale, a German arts and music festival, has cancelled a Young Fathers concert due to the Scottish band's support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS is a peaceful campaign protesting Israel's occupation of Palestine.

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Ruhrtriennale Artistic Director Stefanie Carp announced the cancellation in a statement issued on the festival's website. Carp claimed that the concert was cancelled after Young Fathers declined to "distance" themselves from the BDS movement at the festival's request.

Read Ruhrtriennale's statement below via Pitchfork:

We explicitly do not conclude from this that the band is anti-Semitic, and, in this context, I consider it important to emphasise that criticism of the policy of the current Israeli government is not per se equivalent to anti-Semitism. However, the Ruhrtriennale distances itself in all forms from the BDS movement and wishes to have absolutely no connection with the campaign. We have therefore decided to cancel the concert. We regret this immensely, because the Young Fathers would have set an important tone in the programme of the Ruhrtriennale.

Young Fathers confirmed the cancellation in a statement to Artists for Palestine UK:

Regrettably, Young Fathers will not appear at Ruhrtrienalle Festival this year as the organisers have decided to cancel our show due to our views opposing the current Israeli Government’s grave violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people and our support of the non-violent and anti racist human rights movement, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

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.’

We support one of the only peaceful protests a person can take, in the hope to achieve a just and comprehensive peace that allows Palestinian refugees the right to return to a safe homeland, and that allows Israelis and Palestinians of all faiths (and none) to live together in peace.

With love,

Young Fathers

A number of artists have issued statements in solidarity with Young Fathers, including film director Ken Loach, author Yann Martel, and musicians Brian Eno and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore.

German festival cancels Young Fathers concert for Israel boycott support