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German festival boycotts Brian Eno for pro-BDS views

September 14, 2018

Musician’s invitation to Düsseldorf Electricity Conference is withdrawn

In a rare case of a boycott against a musician who himself advocates boycotting Israel, a German town has withdrawn an invitation to British musician Brian Eno to perform at a festival.

Eno was slated to appear at the Electricity Conference in Düsseldorf in October but last week he signed a letter urging a boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest that will be held next year in Israel.

Festival organiser Rüdiger Esch told the Westdeutsche Zeitung it “was the only right decision” to disinvite Eno because “we don’t want to invite anyone who supports activities against the State of Israel, even if you cannot agree with the current settlement policy.”

Mr Esch said he had visited Israel for five days and that personal experience had made him more aware of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign directed at the country.

Organisers said Eno’s appearance had been planned since last November but his support for BDS had not been known.

He had been due to open an exhibit of his video paintings and lead a workshop at a local college, the newspaper reported. It added that “a large sponsor of the festival” terminated its support because of Eno’s pro-BDS activity.

Directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh and the musician Roger Waters were among the high profile figures who joined Eno in calling for a boycott of next year’s Eurovision.

The signatories said they supported “the heartfelt appeal from Palestinian artists to boycott” the event “until Palestinians can enjoy freedom, justice and equal rights.”

Israel won the right to host the contest after Netta Barzilai’s victory in this year’s edition of the song contest.

In 2017 it emerged that Eno had sought to pressure Australian singer Nick Cave into not performing in Israel

But Cave rejected Eno’s demand, saying: “A few years ago, Brian Eno sent me a letter and asked me to sign it to shut out Israel, and I sent a letter back that said I wouldn’t sign. I understood that I wouldn’t sign but I also wouldn’t perform in Israel — and that seemed like I was acting scared. So I called my people and asked that we perform in Israel.”

“It suddenly became very important to make a stand, to me, against those people who are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians and to silence musicians.”

He added: “So really, you could say, in a way, that the BDS [movement] made me play Israel”.

Read More: The JC

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