From Israeli Citizens to The Quietus


September 2017

To The Quietus,

We are citizens of Israel who oppose our government’s policies of colonialism, military occupation, and apartheid against the Palestinian people [1]. We write to you in support of the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israeli institutions [2], and specifically the call to boycott Israeli academic and cultural institutions [3]. We support this campaign since it follows universal principles of human rights, including opposition to any form of racism.

We found your article about Pop-Kultur Berlin [4] somewhat lacking in important details. It is important to note that The Quietus were not simply reporting on the festival, as the article implies by omission, but were listed as a media partner on the festival website. Was your ability to report honestly about the political issues surrounding this event ultimately restricted by the continuation of this partnership?

Your detailing of the diversity of the festival (primarily made up of white people) served to obscure your argument that "gender equity and genuine diversity don't mean it's okay to take money from the Israeli government". While we welcome and strongly support this position, we must ask, if it isn't OK to take the money from Israel's government, why is it OK to partner with an event that does?

Most importantly, as a partner, The Quietus may have enjoyed a respectful exchange with the festival organizers around this issue, but it's false to claim, as the article does, that the organisers “respected those who disagreed”. Not only was the festival statement that you refer to [5] about the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, and the human rights defenders that identify with it, defamatory and inaccurate, but the artists that had canceled (and took along with them a big percentage of the diversity) were smeared in German media as ‘antisemitic’ by the festival organizers, Berlin's Culture Senator Klaus Lederer, Culture Minister Monika Grütters, and some other participants [6]. Additionally, those artists who are from the Middle East were also smeared along racial lines, directly endangering Mazzaj, one of the bands, because of their status as Syrian refugees in Germany. All this despite our efforts to send a multitude of German media outlets a statement from Jewish groups from all around the world, supporting the campaign [7].

Not only did the festival organizers promote racist incitement and continue to propagate outright lies about the Palestinian BDS movement for human, civil and indigenous rights, but these lies were used by Israel lobby groups to attack freedom of speech in Germany. As we speak, bills are being proposed against those who would dare to criticise Israel's policies in an already suffocating political environment, where threats of defamation as 'antisemitic' are meted out by the aforementioned lobby groups [8].

We take into account that The Quietus wasn't aware of some of this information. Nevertheless, if The Quietus is to engage in political analysis, we hope that it familiarize itself with the local and global politics in which it is attempting to engage, and not stuff it below the fold of a promotional, touristic piece.

Lastly, we posit that The Quietus, as a partner, enjoyed the privilege of not speaking “to anyone who doesn't want a free, safe, equal Palestine" in a festival that takes money from the government that has spent the last seven decades erasing Palestine. Now you, too, can pick and choose your solidarity in a diverse environment while Middle Eastern artists are vilified in the media, and sent death threats as a result of choosing the type of solidarity that was directly asked for by the oppressed.

We sincerely doubt that these were The Quietus' intentions, and hope you address the points that we have outlined here. Art is not created in a vacuum. In this particular case it affects the lives of Palestinians, Syrian refugees and Middle Eastern peoples in Germany, directly and in adverse ways. We hope The Quietus considers its role as a media outlet in a world where words such as "diversity" and "dialogue" are exploited to silence and abuse people of colour, refugees, colonized, and marginalized peoples.


BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within

[6] * Leaked letter from the festival to participating artists
   * A small sample of the defamatory articles in German media
TAZ was also a festival Media Partner!5434798/ and!5435200/ and!5440771/

   * Statements of Mazzaj, the band that led the campaign