Edinburgh trio Young Fathers dropped from German festival for Israel boycott support

Mercury Prize-winning Edinburgh trio Young Fathers have been dropped from the line-up of a German music festival because of their support of the cultural boycott on Israel.

Ruhrtriennale Festival say they asked the group to “distance” themselves from the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to “end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians” and make Israel comply with international law.

In a statement on Ruhrtriennale’s website, festival organisers confirmed Young Fathers’ performance had been cancelled because the band had not “distanced” themselves from the BDS campaign as requested.

The statement reads: “We explicitly do not conclude from this that the band is anti-Semitic, and, in this context, I consider it important to emphasise 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. We have therefore decided to cancel the concert.

“We regret this immensely, because the Young Fathers would have set an important tone in the programme of the Ruhrtriennale.”

In a statement to Artists For Palestine UK, Young Fathers, who won the 2014 Mercury Prize for debut album Dead, said they thought it was “wrong and deeply unfair” for the festival to ask them to distance themselves from their “human rights principles in order for the appearance to go ahead”.

“Anyone who knows the band and our history will know we oppose all forms of hatred and racial discrimination,” they said. “Always have. 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.’

“We support 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.”

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