The Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism

German governor boycotts anti-Israel music festival affiliated with BDS

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Armin Laschet, the governor of Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, announced on Tuesday that he will not attend the Ruhrtriennale arts and music festival because it has not separated itself from advocacy of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement targeting the Jewish state.

Laschet, a member of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party, defended his decision to stay away from the festival, writing on Twitter: “The German Bundestag called for in rare unanimity to ‘decisively counter’ those who want to boycott Israel culturally and academically. The antisemitic motivation of the so-called BDS movement demands a position from everybody, also from the arts.”

The Bild daily newspaper reported that Laschet canceled his appearance at the festival that runs from August 17 to September 30 because the director of the Ruhrtriennale, Stefanie Carp, re-invited the Scottish band Young Fathers that supports BDS.

Carp’s pro-Palestinian positions have catapulted the festival in the city of Bochum into a growing antisemitism scandal over the last few months, according to critics.

In July, Carp told a cultural committee in the parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia that the BDS campaign against Israel is not antisemitic but merely fights for the “right of Palestine to exist.”

German taxpayers finance the annual Ruhrtriennale.