German festival kicks out pro-BDS musician Brian Eno

Eno is a fierce opponent of Israel and exerted enormous pressure on the Australian singer Nick Cave to not perform in Israel in 2017.

September 5, 2018 21:50
3 minute read.
British contemporary artist Brian Eno talks to the media as part of the Sydney Vivid Festival at the

British contemporary artist Brian Eno talks to the media as part of the Sydney Vivid Festival at the Sydney Opera House May 26, 2009.. (photo credit: REUTERS/DANIEL MUNOZ)


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The Electricity Conference in the city of Düsseldorf disinvited the anti-Israel British musician and producer Brian Eno on Tuesday from its slated October event because of his advocacy of the BDS campaign targeting the Jewish state.

Eno’s appearance, according to the Westdeutsche Zeitung paper, was planned since November 2017. The organizer and author Rüdiger Esch told the paper that Eno’s advocacy for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions was not known to the organizers of the Electricity Conference at the time. Esch told the paper that it “was the only right decision” to disinvite Eno because “we don’t want to invite anyone who supports activities against the State of Israel, even if you cannot agree with the current settlement policy.”

Esch told the RP paper on Wednesday that he was in Israel for five days and the personal experience of visiting the country sensitized him to BDS.

The Westdeutsche paper reported that as part of his visit to Düsseldorf – the capital city of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia – Eno was also slated to open an exhibit.

The paper reported that a large sponsor of the festival pulled the plug on its support, because of Eno’s pro-BDS activity.

A workshop with Eno at a local college was canceled, as well as an exhibit covering video paintings from Eno.

Esch said he thought in April that one could separate culture from politics and stuck with Eno’s appearance. Eno did comment on his ejection from the event.

Eno is a fierce opponent of Israel and exerted enormous pressure on the Australian singer Nick Cave to not perform in Israel in 2017. Cave rebuffed Eno, stating: “A few years ago, Brian Eno sent me a letter and asked me to sign it to shut out Israel, and I sent a letter back that said I wouldn’t sign. I understood that I wouldn’t sign but I also wouldn’t perform in Israel – and that seemed like I was acting scared. So I called my people and asked that we perform in Israel.”

Cave added at the time: “It suddenly became very important to make a stand, to me, against those people who are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians and to silence musicians.”

“I love Israel and I love Israeli people,” he said, and he wanted to take “a principled stand against anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians. So really, you could say, in a way, that the BDS made me play Israel,” said Cave.

Last month, the city-state of Berlin’s new intelligence report classified the BDS campaign targeting the Jewish state as part of the outbreak of antisemitism in the German capital. In June, an intelligence report from the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate wrote: “The Third Way’s slogan ‘Boycott Products from Israel’... betrays significant parallels to the anti-Jewish agitation of the National Socialists.” The Third Way (Der Dritte Weg) is a German neo-Nazi party.

In May, the intelligence officials of the German state of Baden Württemberg wrote that propaganda from The Third Way calling to boycott Israeli products “roughly recalls similar measures against German Jews by the National Socialists – for example, on April 1, 1933 the slogan: ( ‘Germans! Defend yourselves! Don’t buy from Jews!)’”

The state North Rhine-Westphalia – the most populous German state – has seen a spike in BDS activity over the years. The Bank for Social Economy in the city of Cologne in NRW enables BDS. The German Bank for Social Economy is a main financial enabler of BDS in Germany.

The Ruhrtriennale music and cultural festival in Bochum in NRW held an event where BDS was advocated.

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