Major German festival cancels a BDS ensemble

From the Ruhrtriennale:

The concert of the Young Fathers advertised for the 18 August in the Turbinenhalle Bochum as part of the Ruhrtriennale is not to take place. This decision was preceded by a request by the Ruhrtriennale that the band distance itself from the campaign “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS).

The Ruhrtriennale’s Artistic Director Stefanie Carp: “Regrettably, the Young Fathers have not distanced themselves from BDS. 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.”

Tickets already purchased will be refunded by the Ruhrtriennale. Therefore tickets can be returned at the ticket selling points they were purchased.

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  • I don’t support BDS and will not, and I hesitate to even enter this discussion, but I think the Triennale move could backfire because it is a very high level organization cancelling performances by groups due to their political opinions. It might create more sympathy for BDS. It’s not a strategic move, even if Germany has special responsibilities regarding Israel.

    If the Young Fathers were racist I would understand, but two of the three members are black and the group has no racist history. Young Fathers made the following statement about the cancellation:

    “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.’“

    Is there anything genuinely substantial about the group that contradicts that statement?

    • Have they boycotted anything to do with Palestine and its myriad of “supporters” who offer no criticism of Hamas and its stated commitment (see the Hamas Charter) to destroy Israel as, according to Hamas, it has no right to exist and also all the Jews should be hunted down and killed…………well no, I thought not.
      Just another bunch of posturing and virtue signalling so called “musicians”

      • Be that as it may, my point is that this seems to set a precedent for political censorship that could ultimately backfire.

        • As a Jew who grew up a short walk from Elijah Muhammad’s home and the Nation of Islam’s headquarters, I’ve heard more than enough anti-Semitic nonsense expressed by African-Americans. Even Jesse Jackson in an unguarded moment let his anti-Semitic bias show. The racial makeup of the Young Fathers doesn’t sanitize their support for BDS.

  • More details here:
    Apparently, Miss Carp was fine with keeping the band in the Festival, until the government of the federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia reminded who was actually financing her gig.
    “Erst nachdem aus Kreisen der Landesregierung und des Landtags NRW nach Informationen dieses Blogs der Ruhtriennale-Leitung deutlich gemacht wurde, dass man den Auftritt einer BDS-Band bei einem mit Landesgeldern finanzierten Festival als höchstproblematisch ansieht, änderte die Ruhrtriennale ihre Haltung.”

    • I also found that interesting. The presenters became worried about their state funding. Yet another unfortunate part of this.

      Last year Young Fathers was one of 8 bands that withdrew from a festival in Berlin after the Embassy of Israel became one of its sponsors. The Embassy gave 500 Euros to the festival to pay travel costs for an Israeli artist. As a sponsor, the logo of the Embassy was included in the program along with the logos of all of the other sponsors. The BDS people demanded that the Israel logo be removed. The festival refused. There was a lot of press about the issue.

      The Ruhr administrators should have anticipated these problems, or perhaps did, when they invited the band. One thing is now certain: due to the cancellation the BDS movement is getting a lot of publicity that will likely create sympathy for it. And due to the appearance of censorship, it might inadvertently valorize Young Fathers due to their stance.

      • It will likely create sympathy for it by some, and antipathy for it by others. It is well possible to see the BDS people as intolerant authoritarians with unhealthy sympathies for islamists and terrorists (I am being tautological here).

        • Yes, it’s a question of which way the balance of opinion will go. There isn’t much support for BDS in Germany, and in fact, some very strong oppostion, so I don’t think the cancellation will have much effect there. There is much more support for BDS in the UK, where it might have more effect.

  • Lenin mentioned the “useful idiots” and the naive members of BDS fill up the definition. They don’t realize that they are tools of Islamic terrorists.

  • The problem with BDS is that it doesn’t stop at calling for the end of the occupation and giving equal rights to Palestinians (a legitimate argument) but calls for right of return of Palestinians to their homes in Israel proper, which would make the Jewish population in Israel a minority and effectively end the Jewish state and the democracy. The BDS movement is clever to mask their true motive under a call for human rights, appealing to the sensibilities of many people, including many Jews. The Jews will never permit the right of Palestinian return because it would mean the end of Israel. Until the Palestinians accept that and are willing to accept a state in the West Bank and Gaza in line with the Oslo Accords, there won’t be peace.

    • The paradox in the public eye is a seeming double standard: Israelis have the right to return after 2000 years, while the Palestinians have no right to return after 70.

      The other paradox is the increasingly obvious resistance to a two state solution, while also calling for Israel to be a Jewish state. The only resolution to that dilemma would be for the Palestinians to disappear all together.

      These are the problems that empower BDS. The problem is further compounded because there is a large, amorphous group that won’t join BDS, but who distance themselves from Israel. The Israeli actress, Natalie Portman, is a very famous example. These circumstances, deeply exacerbated by Netanyahu, concern supporters of Israel. Even Zubin Mehta has spoken about how deeply isolated Israel is:

      I hope there will be a change of leadership and direction, though that doesn’t seem likely.

      • The opposition to the two state solution lies at the door of Hamas. There have been several occasions when a two state deal was on the cards e.g, Camp David, and which Arafat appeared to want to sign up to, only to back out at the last minute because of pressure from the militants in his own party. Now we have Palestine run by a group of genocidal maniacs who state that NO negotiations will EVER take place with Israel as it does not have a right to exist and that their stated aim is to kill all Jews. So spare us the sanctimony about “its all Israels fault” and quoting the criticism of posturing and virtue signalling “artists”. Hamas are hell bent on the destruction of Israel and its people and as such the Israelis are quite within their rights to fights this, as as someone once said don’t fuck with the Israelis and in particular Mossad!

        • Hamas don’t control all the Palestinian territory, and are not the only political entity in representing Palestinians.

          Regardless of how anyone feels about who is right and who is wrong, and no matter how repellent they believe the representatives on the other side, unless the two sides are able to reach an agreement, Israel will never have peace with its neighbours. Israel will, at some stage, have to negotiate with someone they believe to be disreputable.

      • The difference between the “paradox” of Jewish return and Palestinian return is that the Jews have nowhere else to go. They were being slaughtered in Europe and denied access to America. They needed a home and Palestine, their original homeland, was more logical than other places considered for a Jewish state, such as Uganda, Argentina, and even Alaska. Recall further that the land designated for the Jews by the UN partition plan in 1947 was less than 1/3 of the original Land of Israel (and was discontiguous and didn’t include their most holy site – the Western Wall) so there were severe limits on Jewish right to return that the Jews were willing to accept.

        The Palestinians, conversely, were offered and refused land on which to build a state – the West Bank and Gaza. That they insist on the right of Palestinian return as part of any peace plan would indicate that they are less concerned with creating their own state than with the destruction of the Jewish state.

  • Thank you William. That is the most succinct and ‘to the point’ summation of the entire situation, as it truly exists today, that I’ve yet to come across. I suppose it won’t do any good.

    • I take no happiness in those observations. I hope better leaders on both sides will soon arrive and do good work toward solving the problems.

    • The key word in that “summation” is “seeming”. There is no real “double standard” when one considers that there are over a dozen countries (including several large and wealthy ones) in the Middle East where people who call themselves Palestinians would be a part of Arab Muslim majority, while Jews do not have a single country in the entire world, besides small Israel, where they would be anywhere close to the majority or even a substantial minority.

      • Be that as it may, Israel may be losing the p.r. battle because it insists on acting the heavy and putting down the gauntlet. If Israel is being suckered into that stance, then they – of all people! – should know better. Remember that the Germans – AND EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE WORLD (no nation is entirely free of guilt) – has used the same sorts of, “we’re only saving our nation”, types of excuses. In my opinion, that even includes our napalming Japanese cities and dropping atomic bombs on civilians.

        • If someone else was using the same justification, it does not mean that this someone was equally justified in using it. As for the pr battle, it is obvious that Israel would much rather lose that than commit suicide. Unfortunately, it has been an either/or situation for decades.

  • “If someone else was using the same justification, it does not mean that this someone was equally justified in using it”

    ALL nations say that. When and where does it end?

    • You might as well add “if ever” to your question that seems rhetorical to me. All we can do is look at a good map once in a while and learn as much history as we can.

        • By history I mean everything that has already happened. Yesterday is history and so is this minute because it is over already; “now” does not really exist because the moment you say it or look at it, it is already in the past and therefore a part of history.

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