Israeli rights groups condemn German smears against BDS

Protesters hold up big letters that spell BDS

Activists support the boycott movement during the annual May Day march in Berlin, 2017. 

Keren Manor ActiveStills

Israeli human rights groups have written to the president of Germany’s lower house condemning the Bundestag’s recent resolution equating BDS – the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights – with anti-Semitism.

The resolution “echoes the position of the government of Israel, which has been working hard to use false accusations of anti-Semitism to discredit the Palestinian struggle for freedom,” say the heads of B’Tselem, Gisha, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights–Israel, Yesh Din, Breaking the Silence and HaMoked.

Although the resolution is nonbinding, it encourages the McCarthyite anti-Palestinian atmosphere fostered by Germany’s media and political elites.

The groups note that while Israel is trying to demonize the nonviolent movement for Palestinian rights as anti-Semitic, it is “at the same time cynically associating itself with some of the most ultra-nationalist political parties in Europe, including ones with clear racist roots.”

The Israeli human rights groups accuse the German government of aiding Israel’s “unacceptable strategic goal” of maintaining “perpetual occupation over millions of Palestinians with no political rights, while silencing any form of opposition to this injustice.”

Solidarity with Talib Kweli

Meanwhile, more than 100 artists and cultural figures signed a letter this month in solidarity with American rapper Talib Kweli, who has been disinvited from three concerts in Germany over his support for BDS.

Signatories include scholar Marc Lamont Hill, author Naomi Klein, filmmakers Boots Riley and Ken Loach, actors Mark Ruffalo and Miriam Margolyes, and Scotland-based band Young Fathers.

“Supporting a nonviolent struggle for freedom, justice and equality, for Palestinians or others, should never be conflated with bigotry. It’s a right. For many, it’s also a moral duty,” the letter states.

Kweli refused to cave in to demands from the Open Source Festival in the western city of Düsseldorf that he denounce BDS last month, leading the festival to disinvite him.

Kweli was disinvited from two other German venues in recent weeks for similar reasons.

The rapper was scheduled to perform at the Feierwerk music festival in Munich, as well as the YAAM venue in Berlin.

Racist attacks

Kweli’s criticism of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians began when he was scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv several years ago.

He was offered “10 times more than I usually get paid” but chose to skip the event after he learned about the boycott movement, he recently told the publication Uproxx.

“I wasn’t aware that there was a cultural boycott of Israel that was akin to the cultural boycott of South Africa in the 1980s,” Kweli said. “My parents participated heavily in the boycott of South Africa, they were very active in the anti-apartheid movement.”

“You know, how could I – in the face of Palestinians who live in Israel, as second-class citizens, telling me that they’re my fans, telling me they want to see me but asking me not to come – how can I say, ‘Well, I’m still going to come because my music is so powerful, it’s going to heal the world,’” Kweli said.

While he faced what he called “fierce” pushback from Palestine solidarity activists to cancel his gig, Kweli maintains that they were “respectful.”

“When I canceled the Israel show in solidarity with BDS, I got called n*****, and monkey, and all types of shit from these Zionist trolls, and it immediately made me feel like I’d made the right decision.”

Kweli said he was grateful to the artists who signed the letter supporting him.

Last year, Young Fathers had their show canceled by another German festival for refusing to renounce their support for Palestinian rights.

JLo don’t go

Israeli activists from the group Boycott from Within are urging pop star Jennifer Lopez to cancel her upcoming concert in Israel.

The activists point out how Lopez previously called for the people of Puerto Rico to be “treated equally,” but they note that “Palestinians, both citizens of Israel and disenfranchised subjects of the Israeli occupation, are not treated equally.”

“Unfortunately, whatever your intention is, Israel has already enlisted you in its service,” they tell Lopez.

“Jennifer, we see you as a conscientious artist. Palestinians suffer from heinous, unabated violations to their rights, freedom and dignity. Please support them. Please Boycott Israel!”

Lopez is scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on 1 August.




Isn't it odd that Jews have a homeland but 60% of them don't live there? Wouldn't it be peculiar if 60% of French people didn't live in France? Or if only 40% of British people lived in Britain? How could France be called "the homeland of the French people" if most of them didn't live there? Israel is promoted as "the homeland of the Jewish people". Who are the Jewish people?

Since its inception, Zionism has not been simply about creating a "homeland for the Jewish people". It is a political project for the ethnic cleansing of at least Palestine and Transjordan. It has failed in bringing all Jews "home" to Israel. But it will not renounce its attempt to ethnically cleanse the region. That is why BDS is right. That is why cultural figures should boycott Israel.


Very much applaud Talibs words:

'You know, how could I - in in the face of Palestinians who live in Israel as second class citizens, telling me they're my fans, telling me they want to see me but asking me not to come - how can I say "well I'm going to still come because my music is so powerful, its going to heal the word"

He is elegant, down to earth and humble - in the best sense of the word.

Compare this to the UK based Creative Community for Peace who babble on about the healing power of their music bringing love and people together and thus a force for peace and all that's good. Their aims are to counteract cultural boycotts and thus spread the love. Their FB figures any artist, musician who plays Israel and apparently they include any American footballer or baseballer who accepts a trip to Israel as one of their very own creatives to be applauded.

Hilariously enough, they nod in approval when a singer, Nicki Minaj backed out of a performance in Saudi Arabia because of her support for women, LGBTQ community etc. Now this no-show because of conscience or what other people call boycott, was applauded by our creatives; appears the Saudis aren't receptive to the magical healing powers of music as the Israelis are.

So its cheers to Talib for respecting the boycott, respecting the Palestinian voice, and for the elegant simplicity of his words. I am no fan of Rap as such; wrong generation, too old and too stuck on melodies of my youth and just don't get it. But its Talib who is such a wonderful antidote to the self-indulgent hypocrisy dished out by the appalling Creatives. And Stephen Fry is apparently a signed up member!

Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.