Young Fathers is standing firm despite how a German festival canceled a scheduled show by the award-winning band because it refused to renounce support for Palestinian rights.
Palestinians are now calling for a boycott of the Ruhrtriennale festival.
“Regrettably, Young Fathers will not appear at Ruhrtriennale festival this year as the organizers 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 nonviolent and anti-racist human rights movement, boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS),” the Scotland-based band announced on Wednesday.
“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,” Young Fathers added.
The band reaffirmed that throughout its history it has opposed “all forms of hatred and racial discrimination.”
“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,” Young Fathers added.
Young Fathers said that by backing BDS, it supports “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.”
Last year Young Fathers pulled out of Berlin’s Pop-Kultur Festival because it accepted funds from the Israeli embassy.
Since then, dozens more UK bands and big name international artists Lorde, Gilberto Gil and Shakira have canceled shows in Tel Aviv or pledged support for the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel.
Intolerance in Germany
On Tuesday, the Ruhrtriennale festival made good on its threats to cancel the 18 August performance by Young Fathers if the band didn’t renounce the BDS movement for Palestinian rights.
“This decision was preceded by a request by the Ruhrtriennale that the band distance itself from the campaign ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions,’” the festival stated.
“Regrettably, the Young Fathers have not distanced themselves from BDS,” the festival’s artistic director Stefanie Carp said. “We explicitly do not conclude from this that the band is anti-Semitic, and, in this context, I consider it important to emphasize 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,” Carp added.
This admission is important: Ruhrtriennale’s objection to BDS – or anyone supporting it – is not in order to oppose alleged anti-Semitism by Young Fathers – a charge from which the festival explicitly exonerates the band.
Rather, the festival’s objection appears motivated by hostility to the Palestinian struggle for liberation and equal rights itself.
The festival is objecting to any form of protest or action to achieve Palestinian rights, including the kind of nonviolent civil society boycott initiatives that helped end Jim Crow segregation in the United States and apartheid in South Africa.
Support for Young Fathers
PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, is urging “conscientious artists to support Young Fathers 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,” according to PACBI.
“The German establishment’s blind support for Israel’s fanatic regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid radically contradicts public opinion,” PACBI said. “The German public opposes Israel’s regime by a 5-1 margin, according to recent polls.”
A number of artists, including Harry Potter actor Miriam Margolyes, writer Ahdaf Soueif, screenwriter Paul Laverty and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore are expressing that support using the hashtag #SupportYoungFathers.
The UK’s Greenbelt music festival also tweeted its “support to Young Fathers for their commitment to the cultural boycott of Israel, highlighting the human rights of the Palestinian people.”
Boyle called one of those songs, “Only God Knows,” the “heartbeat for the film.”
Watch a video above for the song “In My View,” from Young Fathers’ latest album Cocoa Sugar.