Talib Kweli’s removal from festival lineup is part of anti-Palestinian censorship trend | Letter

103 signatories including Peter Gabriel, Naomi Klein and Boots Riley condemn attempts in Germany to impose political conditions on artists who support Palestinian rights

We are shocked that the Open Source Festival in Düsseldorf has disinvited the black American rapper Talib Kweli, leading to the cancellation of his Germany tour, after he refused to denounce the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights. Attempts in Germany to impose political conditions on artists who support Palestinian rights, particularly targeting people of colour and queer artists, comprise a shameful trend of censorship, anti-Palestinian repression, and attacks on freedom of conscience.

We hold diverse views on BDS, but we concur with 240 Jewish and Israeli scholars who recently wrote that “the three main goals of BDS – ending the occupation, full equality to the Arab citizens of Israel and the right of return of Palestinian refugees – adhere to international law”.

Dr Sara Roy of Harvard University, a leading Middle East scholar, recently addressed members of the German parliament: “I lost a large extended family to fascism and racism. By endorsing the motion that alleges that BDS is antisemitic – regardless of one’s position on BDS – you are criminalising the right to free speech and dissent and those who choose to exercise it, which is exactly how fascism takes root. You also trivialise and dishonour the real meaning of antisemitism.”

We firmly oppose all forms of racism and discrimination, including anti-blackness, antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia and sexism. We also agree with the 200 Palestinian civil society organisations who responded to the Bundestag’s declaration that equated BDS with bigotry: “Denying Palestinians the right to non-violently advocate for freedom, justice and equality is anti-Palestinian and puts the Bundestag at odds with international law, with universal democratic principles and even with the formal position of the European Union.”

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.

Khalid Abdalla Actor, filmmaker
Tunde Adebimpe Musician
Aviad Albert Musician, linguist
Tariq Ali Writer
Nir Alon Visual artist
Monifa Bandele Human rights activist
David Banner Musician, producer, actor, activist
Daphna Baram Comedian; director, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions UK
The Black Madonna DJ, producer
Nicholas Blincoe Writer
Judith Butler Philosopher
David Calder Actor
Iggor Cavalera Musician
Julie Christie Actor
Caryl Churchill Playwright
Ciel DJ, producer
Scott Cohen Music industry executive
Ben Cook Director, LUX Artists’ Moving Image
Molly Crabapple Artist, writer
Patrisse Cullors Artist; co-founder, Black Lives Matter
Liam Cunningham Actor
Selma Dabbagh Writer
Dror Dayan Film-maker
Laurence Dreyfus Director, Phantasm Viol Consort
Michael Eric Dyson Author, minister, professor
Theo Ellis Musician
Eve Ensler Playwright, activist
Brian Eno Composer, producer
Jodie Evans Film producer
Gareth Evans Curator, producer
Anat Even Film-maker
Chiara Figone Archive Books/Kabinet/Journal
Saeed Taji Farouky Film-maker
Peter Gabriel Musician, founder, Womad festival
Tom Gilroy Actor, director
Jodie Ginsberg CEO, Index on Censorship
Ariel Gold Human rights activist
Ohal Grietzer Composer
LisaGay Hamilton Actor
Marc Lamont Hill Author, activist
HowNosm Street artists
Chace Infinite Artist, entrepreneur
Oli Isaacs Artist manager
Aki Kaurismäki Film director, screenwriter
Brigid Keenan Writer
Reem Kelani Singer, musicologist
Robin Kelly Historian, academic
AL Kennedy Writer
Peter Kennard Artist
Steve Kettley Musician, composer
Naomi Klein Writer
Paul Laverty Screenwriter
Mason Leaver-Yap Associate curator, KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Mike Leigh Writer, director
Laima Leyton Musician
Ken Loach Director
Liz Lochhead Poet, playwright
Sabrina Mahfouz Writer
Jens Maier-Rothe Curator, film producer
Miriam Margolyes Actor
Kika Markham Actor, writer
Yann Martel Writer
Francesca Martinez Comedian
Ahmed Masoud Writer, director
Pauline Melville Writer
Avi Mograbi Film-maker
Jessica Care Moore Poet, author, publisher
Thurston Moore Musician
Tom Morello Musician
Ali Shaheed Muhammad Rapper, producer, DJ
Laura Mulvey Film-maker, writer
Joff Oddie Musician
Jonathan Ofir Conductor
Mutulu “M-1” Olugbala Musician, activist
David Oppenheim Artist, musician
Maxine Peake Actor
Cat Phillipps Artist
Danielle Alma Ravitzki Musician, visual artist
Boots Riley Director, musician, activist
Ben Ronen Visual artist
Rrose Musician
Mark Ruffalo Actor
Gavin Rayna Russom Composer
Michal Sapir Writer, musician
Sate Artist
James Schamus Screenwriter, producer, director
Stephen Sedley Human rights lawyer
Itamar Shapira Musician
Shain Shapiro Music industry executive
Eyal Sivan Film-maker
Gillian Slovo Writer
Christopher Somes-Charlton Artist manager
Ahdaf Soueif Writer
Lia Tarachansky Journalist, film-maker
Eyal Vexler Cultural producer, curator
Violet Electronic musician
Roger Waters Musician
Jonathan Watkins Director, Ikon Gallery
Eyal Weizman Director, Forensic Architecture
Penny Woolcock Screenwriter, filmmaker
Robert Wyatt Musician
Young Fathers Band


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