April 21, 2024

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Artists and speakers pull out of SXSW over US military's support for Israel

Artists and speakers pull out of SXSW over US military's support for Israel

Dozens of musicians and panelists have walked out of the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals in Austin, Texas, to protest sponsorship by the US military and defense companies as pressure grows against the US military's support for Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza.

More than 80 artists and SXSW panelists had joined the boycott by Wednesday, according to an organizer. Austin Coalition for Palestine.

Ibrahim Batshoun, a Palestinian-American and CEO of BeatStars, a digital music licensing platform and longtime sponsor of the music and technology festival, withdrew from SXSW after learning of increased U.S. Department of Defense participation this year. The United States is the largest supplier of military equipment to Israel.

Mr. Batshon, a Palestinian-American known as Abe, said that six members of his family were killed in a bombing in November while they were taking refuge in a church in Gaza City.

“When I learned that they would have a large presence at a music festival where creatives and young people come together to collaborate and communicate, I couldn’t support it,” he said.

Lambrini girlsThe indie rock duo from Brighton in Britain were among several performers who made statements on social media citing sponsorship from military defense contractors such as Collins Aerospace, RTX and BAE Systems as the reason for their withdrawal from the festival.

“This is done in solidarity with the people of Palestine and to highlight the deep, unacceptable ties that the festival has with arms companies and the US military which at this very moment makes it possible to commit genocide and starvation against a besieged population,” said Irish rap group Kneecap. He said in a statement.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, took a defiant tone in response to the boycott.

“Farewell. 'Don't come back,'” he said books On social media, pointing out that Austin was the headquarters of… Army Futures Commanda branch of the military founded in 2018 to focus on technological innovation.

“We are proud of the American Army in Texas,” he said. “If you don't like it, don't come here.”

Army Futures Command has participated in the festival since 2018, but this year is serving as a “major sponsor.” The top marketing layer. A festival spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for information on Wednesday, and it was not clear how much the military had paid to participate as a premium sponsor.

“We are proud to be a sponsor of SXSW and to have the opportunity to showcase the U.S. Army,” said Lt. Col. Lindsey Elder, Army spokesman. “SXSW offers a unique opportunity for the Army to meet technology innovators and leaders, explore new ideas and insights, and create dynamic industry partnerships as we modernize for the future.”

Within hours of Mr. Abbott's comments, SXSW organizers issued their own statement, saying they disagreed with the governor, but that inviting defense companies to the conference helped achieve their mission.

“We are an organization that welcomes diverse viewpoints.” booksAdding, “The defense industry has historically served as a testing ground for many of the systems we rely on today. These organizations are often leaders in emerging technologies, and we think we'd better understand how their approach will impact our lives.

Some bands that pulled out of festival shows agreed to perform at an Austin nightclub on Wednesday in an event advocating for fair pay for musicians, according to the British newspaper “Daily Mail”. United Musicians and Allied Workers labor union.

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The SXSW boycott is the artists' latest show of protest against US involvement in the conflict between Israel and Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces began a military campaign in Gaza after an attack by Hamas militants on October 7 killed 1,200 people in Israel and took more than 250 hostage.

Since then, more than 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.

The SXSW festival, which was first held in 1987 and began this year on March 8 and runs through March 16, typically attracts more than 300,000 participants, according to Visit Austin. Last year, more than 1,000 speakers, more than 300 panels and dozens of exhibitions participated in the festival. The event, whose remit includes exploring the intersection of art, technology and its convergence with culture, includes a range of panels, performances, film screenings and exhibitions.

For decades, the SXSW festival has served as an important launching pad for emerging musicians and filmmakers, whose cool factor has helped attract the biggest names in tech (Michael Dell In 2022), politics (Barack Obama in 2016) and performing arts (Bruce Springsteen In 2012).

Festivals Featured speakers This year it features Oscar nominee Colman Domingo, singer and actress Selena Gomez and Meghan, Duchess of Essex.

Last Sunday, at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles, actor Mark Ruffalo and pop star Billie Eilish were among the attendees who wore red pins to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.