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Well-Intentioned, Misinformed, and Dangerous An Open Letter to Berlin's Pop-Kultur Festival About BDS

Well-Intentioned, Misinformed, and Dangerous -

The Pop-Kultur festival in Berlin is a major music festival boasting acts from around the globe. They are working in collaboration with the Israeli Embassy, and, therefore, many artists have cancelled their performances at the festival in keeping with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The festival has officially taken a strong and heavily misinformed stance against BDS, and many Jewish human rights activists and groups are working to educate them and others on the dangerous implications of this stance.

Dear Pop-Kultur Berlin,
After reading your statement on the BDS movement and its impacts on the festival, a great number of Jews around the world have become very concerned. It’s critical to point out that falsely conflating non-Zionism and BDS with anti-Semitism is very dangerous because it cries wolf, thereby obscuring what anti-Semitism really is. The world needs to maintain an unflinchingly clear view of what anti-Semitism is so that we can immediately recognize it and act in effective opposition. This is especially crucial now that anti-Semitic movements are mobilizing and becoming disturbingly mainstream, especially in my home country of the United States. As a Jew, I implore you to help stand in solidarity with my people by first and foremost understanding what anti-Semitism is and isn’t, and by focusing on eradicating each manifestation of what it truly is. The Israeli Occupation fuels global anti-Semitism by giving the world reasons to paint us as inhuman aggressors; the State of Israel acts in stark, unapologetic contrast to Jewish values of compassion and social justice.
The BDS movement is in no way an opposition to or a hatred of Jews or Judaism, nor is it an issue of Arab vs. Jew. It is a nonviolent strategic opposition to a gut-wrenching breadth and depth of systemic human rights violations. It is the humanitarian atrocities committed by the state of Israel – absolutely not the Jewishness of Israel and its people – that are being targeted and opposed. I have seen these atrocities with my own eyes while spending a great deal of time doing human rights work in the West Bank and in Israel proper, and they’re more horrific and extensive than I will ever be able to convey. It is my Jewishness that calls me to oppose the Occupation through BDS, because it is ethically non-negotiable that we say “never again” and mean “never again for anyone.”
The individuals who try to sneak under the wing of BDS and non-Zionism as a cover for their anti-Semitism are immediately recognizable and are unequivocally not welcome in the movement. The goals of these anti-Semites are the opposite of our goals, which are equality and human rights.
BDS is an effective nonviolent means of refusing to comply, participate in, normalize, and perpetuate one of the most dire human rights crises of our time. We do not combat anti-Semitism by engaging neo-Nazis in “dialogue” because it is both ineffective and unethical to normalize their vile agenda. It is imperative that we support the BDS movement to take an equally strong stance in the name of equality and human rights.
Katya Weiss-Andersson
Coloradans for Justice in Palestine

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Well-Intentioned, Misinformed, and Dangerous -

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