Spanish band expelled from music festival for defacing Israeli flag

Hungary’s Sziget Festival condemns action by Barcelona-based rap group Tribade as contrary to event’s principles of acceptance and respect, says it won’t be asked back

Tribade: Bittah, Masiva Lulla, Sombra Alor, with DJ Mark. (Fegobe via Wikipedia)
Tribade: Bittah, Masiva Lulla, Sombra Alor, with DJ Mark. (Fegobe via Wikipedia)

A Spanish band that performed at a renowned Hungarian international music festival has been banished from participating again after publishing a video of its members defacing an Israeli flag at the event.

The Sziget Music Festival said in a statement that it condemns the action by hip-hop group Tribade as against the spirit of the annual event.

“The actions of the group Tribade are against our cherished values of welcome and respect and we deeply condemn this hateful stunt,” the statement said.

“They will, of course, not be invited back to our festivals in the future,” the festival said of Tribade.

The three-member female rap group uploaded videos Sunday of their concert at the festival to their Instagram story, followed by a video of them writing statements against the State of Israel and in support of the Palestinians on an Israeli flag.

The video shows the band members walking past several tents apparently used by Israeli guests of the concert, before reaching an affixed flag and pulling out black marker pens.

They wrote various statements on the flag, including: “Israel doesn’t exist,” “Free Palestine” and “Eat this” alongside a drawing of a penis.

The Foreign Ministry condemned the “ugly” incident in a statement, saying it would demand clarification from the event organizers and follow up on the matter.

The European Union of Jewish students tweeted that it “is disgusted by the defacement of the Israeli flag at Hungary’s Sziget Festival by Tribade, a Barcelona-based hip-hop group.”

The organization called on Sziget organizers to “condemn artists who use its platform to incite hatred.”

Tribade did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Inbal Mittelman, an Israeli attending the festival told the Srugim news site on Monday how disappointed she was with the incident and that she hoped organizers would ban the group.

Mittelman also said that she had herself encountered antisemitism at the festival. When she displayed an Israeli flag at a performance, others in attendance “poured alcohol on me and shouted at me to take it down, tried to pull it away,” she said.

Tribade was founded in 2017 in Barcelona and has three members: Bittah, Sombra Alor and Masiva Lulla, who perform along with DJ Big Mark.

The line-up of this year’s Sziget festival included some of the biggest names in current popular music such as Arctic Monkeys, Tame Impala, Dua Lipa, Calvin Harris, Justin Bieber, and Kings of Leon. Also performing were Israeli acts Noga Erez, Lola Marsh, and Echo.

Many international bands have come under pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel in recent years and some have subsequently canceled performances they had already booked in the country.

But Tel Aviv remains a destination for many international artists, and was home to the 2019 Eurovision contest — including a performance by Madonna — after Israel won the competition the previous year.

Maroon 5 appeared in Israel in May, rapper 50 Cent performed in Israel in July and One Republic is slated to return this fall.

In October, over 200 celebrities, including actors Mila Kunis, Billy Porter, Neil Patrick Harris and Helen Mirren, signed a letter denouncing BDS efforts to boycott an LGBTQ film festival in Tel Aviv.

Tobias Siegal contributed to this report.

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