German Festival Drops Young Fathers For Supporting BDS Movement

Young Fathers are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in. It’s part of what charged their fantastic new album Cocoa Sugar — one of our favorites of 2018 so far — with such electricity. But conviction always comes with consequences, and for Young Fathers that now means a cancelled festival date in Germany.

The genre-defiant UK act has been dropped from the northwestern German festival Ruhrtriennale due to their support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which works to end international support for Israel in protest of the country’s treatment of Palestinians. In a statement Tuesday, the festival’s representatives wrote:

Regrettably, the Young Fathers have not distanced themselves from BDS. 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.

Young Fathers in turn shared this statement with Artists For Palestine:

Regrettably, Young Fathers will not appear at Ruhrtrienalle Festival this year as the organisers have decided to cancel our show due to our views opposing the current Israeli Government’s grave violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people and our support of the non-violent and anti racist human rights movement, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

We feel it is a wrong and deeply unfair decision by the festival to take this stance and to also ask us to distance ourselves from our 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. 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.

With love,

Young Fathers

Prominent BDS supporters Brian Eno and Thurston Moore also shared statements backing Young Fathers. Eno writes, “To criticise the Israeli government after the recent killings of unarmed Palestinian protestors is not antisemitism. It is pro-civilisation — speaking out in favour of civilised behaviour and against state brutality. It is standing up and saying: ‘The rule of law applies everywhere.'” And here’s Moore: “Join hands. Get with it. #SupportYoungFathers.”

Last year, Young Fathers were one of eight artists to withdraw from Berlin’s Pop-Kultur festival over its partnership with the Israeli embassy. Four other acts have withdrawn from this year’s Pop-Kultur for the same reason, including John Maus and Shopping.

In other Young Fathers news, they have a new video for “Holy Ghost” out as an Apple Music exclusive. Watch it here if you subscribe.