Berlin Against Pinkwashing and Boycott from Within applaud the decision of 7 artists Mazzaj Rap Band, Islam Chipsy & EEK, Hello PsychAleppo, Emel Al-Mathlouthi Law Holt Annie Goh and Oranssi Pazuzu to withdraw from Berlin’s Pop-Kultur festival in light of the recent BDS call to boycott the event due to Israeli Embassy partnership.
As a mixed multi-ethnic group of queer and queer-allied activists, we see it as fundamentally important to stand in solidarity with Palestinian civil society in their peaceful protest against systematic oppression by the Israeli state. This is the same state that, as Syrian rapper Mohammad Abu Hajar explains, “openly declared on many different occasions anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-Black attitudes”.
Israel is currently breaking international law by occupying Palestinian territory and has made the systemic exclusion of Palestinian voices – among them women*, LGBTIQ* and GNC people – public policy. At the same time it has set up a multi-million dollar budget campaign aimed at branding itself an egalitarian, LGBTIQ*-friendly state. This state, however, only provides LGBTIQ* rights for an exclusive group based on race, religion and nationality.
What’s more, the Palestinian fight for freedom and justice is undoubtedly a feminist issue too: Palestinian women are forced to give birth waiting at checkpoints, Israeli settlement authorities bulldoze family homes, and many women experience sexual assault at the hands of the Israeli army.
As artist Emel Al-Mathlouthi says: “As things get tougher inside and outside Palestine, what each one of us can always do is show solidarity and empathy, as artists it starts by being true and faithful.”
Whilst we warmly welcome a festival that creates space for otherwise marginalised queer and POC voices, we are disappointed that such a space would become an advertising platform for the Israeli embassy. Regardless of the extent of the funding or involvement of the Israeli embassy, any cooperation that allows a state that maintains an illegal occupation to paint itself as a beacon of progressivity (for example through cultural funding) is indefensible.
“Through our music, we seek to resist violence, persecution and discrimination of any kind against each other.“ – Islam Chipsy & EEK