Arab anger as BDS targets their festival

By Ben Hartman, May 17, 2013
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The Palestinian and Jordanian organisers of a music festival in the Golan Heights have spoken out against a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign that is targeting their event.

The two-day MAN — Music, Art and Nature — festival is scheduled for June 7 and 8 on the shores of Lake Ram next to the Druse village of Majdal Shams. Theatre, art exhibits and workshops are planned, as well as performances by Palestinian and Jordanian DJs and bands, including Akher Zapheer from Jordan.

BDS activists have called on Akher Zapheer to boycott the festival, arguing that visiting Israel is a form of normalising relations with the country. The fact that the festival is due to take place in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights makes matters worse for some opponents.

Muhammad Jabali, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, is one of the organisers of the festival, where he will also be performing as a DJ. He said that boycotting Palestinian and Arab cultural events of this nature will only have a detrimental effect. “We don’t think that it’s logical for Arabs inside of Israel to carry out a cultural boycott against themselves,” he said.

Mr Jabali, 33, added that Arab cultural events like the MAN festival increase Israel’s Palestinian citizens’ cultural connection to the wider Arab world, and help prevent “Israelisation” of the Palestinian minority by the wider Israeli culture.

He added that “we all support the boycott of all official Israeli institutions”.

Yazid Sadi, a Palestinian guitarist living in Haifa, told the Economist that BDS was similar to chemotherapy. “It doesn’t distinguish between cancerous and good cells… It kills them all.”

In what has been declared as one of the BDS movement’s biggest victories in recent years, physicist Stephen Hawking said last week that he would not attend the President’s Conference next month in Jerusalem, by way of protest against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

Last updated: 3:45pm, May 17 2013