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John Maus withdraws from Berlin’s Pop-Kultur festival over Israel embassy funding

Truth NGO – The festival announced the US artist has withdrawn from the festival, saying that his band preferred “not to play in a politicised setting.” (Resident Advisor has contacted Maus’s representatives for further comment.) Pop-Kultur has been under pressure since last year to sever ties with the Israeli government, from which it has accepted funding to cover the costs of visiting artists; the Israeli embassy gave the festival €1200 this year, and €500 the previous year. Several other acts—Shopping, Richard Dawson & Band and Gwenno—have also cancelled scheduled gigs at the festival in response to its connection to the state.

Last month, the Campaign For The Academic And Cultural Boycott Of Israel (PACBI) issued an appeal to artists to withdraw from Pop-Kultur. “Israel seeks associations with international festivals, such as Pop-Kultur Berlin, to art-wash its image abroad in the explicit attempt to distract attention from its crimes against Palestinians. For a supposedly progressive festival to accept sponsorship from a decades-old regime of oppression and apartheid like Israel’s is unethical and hypocritical,” it said.

The festival in turn issued its own statement reaffirming its stance on the Boycott, Divestment And Sanctions Movement (BDS). “We are not intimidated by boycotts,” it said. “If there are artists who don’t want to perform at our festival because we receive travel and accommodation support from the Israeli embassy in Berlin, we very much regret that… We are always open to engaging in constructive dialogue. We believe that discourse and dialogue are the only means through which to deal with conflicts in this world.”

Last year’s event saw several acts pull out, including Young Fathers, Islam Chipsy and Annie Goh, over the festival’s partnership with the Israeli embassy. The festival, taking place on August 15th through 17th, features acts like Mark Ernestus’s Ndagga Rhythm Force, Pan Daijing, Vivien Goldman, Neneh Cherry and Nadine Shah.

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