German festival is hit by BDS pullout

German festival is hit by BDS pullout


norman lebrecht

June 18, 2018

The Ruhrtriennale, which last week cancelled a Young Father’s concert over the group’s support for an Israel boycott, has been notified by five other artists that they are pulling out in solidarity.

The five are Sharif Sehnaoui, Tony Elieh, Mazen Kerbaj, Hassan Khan and Raed Yassin.

The festival is designed to regenerate a region in industrial decline. Boycotts of any kind are the last thing it needs.


  • Philippe says:

    ” Boycotts of any kind are the last thing it needs.” Please elaborate on your opposition to BDS.

  • JoBe says:

    Good riddance. Festivals don’t regenerate regions in industrial decline: investments do. If the rats who leave that ship think that it is sinking, or believe their departure will make it sink, they may well be delusional. And if they are not and the ship does truly sink; well, it must have been already quite rotten, then, and it didn’t create tens of thousands of permanent jobs anyway (which is, I repeat, what the region needs most urgently).

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      “Festivals don’t regenerate regions in industrial decline”

      Nor do they stop gangs that have a stranglehold on neighborhoods (referring to the senseless shootings at the Trenton, NJ Arts Festival)

  • william osborne says:

    I don’t support BDS, but I think it is inappropriate to cancel performances due to artists’ political beliefs. Germany, however, is in a very poor position to support BDS, and it is correct and perfectly reasonable that they distance themselves.

    That’s why it was a serious oversight to invite Young Fathers in the first place. They had already backed out of a festival in Berlin due to their involvement with BDS. The Triennale, given Germany’s special situation, and only for that reason, should have taken note and not invited them. That would still be a form of censorhsip I suppose, but the best solution for Germany’s moral dilemna.

    The other option, and one that is even better, would be to make sure Israeli artists or sponsors are invited, and then let BDS groups withdraw of their own accord if their demands to block Israeli’s are not met. That’s what happened in Berlin.

  • Hilary says:

    What an extraordinary looking venue.

  • SVM says:

    I am fundamentally opposed to censoring/disinviting artists on account of their political affiliations/opinions, even if said affiliations/opinions involved calls to censor/disinvite other artists. Except where the artist’s capacity to give a competent performance in line with his/her contract of engagement is seriously and manifestly in jeopardy, I consider it unprofessional and unethical on the part of a festival — especially a festival receiving taxpayer subsidy — to renege on an invitation once confirmed (and if a festival is forced to renege on account of an unanticipated funding shortfall, it should be honest about that, pay any cancellation penalty stipulated in the contract without complaint, and not seek other irrelevant pretexts). McCarthyism must never again be permitted to take hold (unfortunately, it already has), no matter how strong the perceived provocation.

    Having said that, if an artist has a reputation for reneging on engagements for unprofessional reasons (I have in mind Sierra Boggess, who has reneged on an engagement for the forthcoming Proms season *after* the season brochure had been published), there would (as William Osborne suggests) be a case for not inviting him/her in the first place.