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Record labels, promoters and more come together to call for cultural boycott of Israel

Record labels, promoters and more have called for a cultural boycott of Israel through the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

The campaign has called for the boycott amidst the ongoing developments in the Israel-Palestine conflict, which recently saw Israel carry out an airstrike operation in Rafah. The airstrike was estimated to have killed at least 37 people between May 27-28, according to The Associated Press.

They also reported the attack caused several tents to catch fire, killing more residents in Rafah, which is home to thousands of displaced Palestinians from all over the Gaza Strip.

Now, music organisations, labels and promoters such as Dark Entries, Techno Queers, Dweller, Noise Not Music, Night Slugs, 8-ball community, Gold Bolus Recordings, NYC Noise, FIST and many more have committed themselves to the boycott.

PACBI is an offshoot of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), which was behind the huge wave of drop-outs from The Great Escape and Latitude Festival this year. PACBI was established in 2004 to specifically oversee cultural, artistic and academic boycotts in the movement.

Free Palestine protest VUB (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu via Getty Images)

A lengthier statement on the Writers Against the War on Gaza website explains: “PACBI, or The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, advocates for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions for their deep and persistent complicity in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights as stipulated by international law.”

“Cultural institutions and their communities are part and parcel of the ideological and institutional scaffolding of Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism, and apartheid against the Palestinian people,” the statement continued. “Israeli cultural institutions (including performing art companies, music groups, film organizations, writers’ unions and festivals) have cast their lot with the hegemonic Zionist establishment in Israel.”

The campaign recently responded to the news of Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood playing a show with Israeli musician Dudu Tassa on May 26.

Greenwood responded to the criticism to his show in a lengthy statement, writing: “No art is as ‘important’ as stopping all the death and suffering around us. How can it be? But doing nothing seems a worse option. And silencing Israeli artists for being born Jewish in Israel doesn’t seem like any way to reach an understanding between the two sides of this apparently endless conflict.”

PACBI, however, provided a statement to NME saying: “Palestinians reject Jonny Greenwood’s misleading excuses for his immoral artwashing of Israel’s genocide against 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza. We call for increased peaceful pressure on his bands Radiohead and The Smile to distance themselves from it or face grassroots measures.

“By performing in apartheid Tel Aviv while Israeli forces burned Palestinians alive in Rafah, Gaza – a fact he conveniently omits from his letter – Jonny Greenwood is knowingly complicit in covering up these atrocities. No progressive music fan can accept this,” they continued.

“All Palestinian/Arab musicians should refuse to act as figleaves for international artists crossing the Palestinian picket line – or for Israeli artists who have entertained Israeli forces massacring Palestinians, as Greenwood’s collaborator Dudu Tassa has repeatedly done.”

Greenwood has faced criticism for playing in Israel before. A Radiohead show held in the country in 2017 caused the band to receive calls to cancel the gig, with an open letter issued by Artists For Palestine UK – and signed by musicians including Roger Waters, Thurston Moore and Young Fathers – asking the group to “think again” about their decision amid an ongoing and widespread cultural boycott of the country.

Other bands have taken action in recent weeks to bring attention to the situation; Dua Lipa spoke against the situation in Rafah, saying that “burning children alive can never be justified”, whilst Paramore said that they “stand in solidarity with those calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire”.

Meanwhile, Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja read a letter from a doctor witnessing “catastrophe” for newborn babies in Rafah as part of the Voices for Gaza initiative, and Black Country, New Road have announced a London benefit concert for Palestine.

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