Rockers Of Montreal bolt Israel festival, denounce 'apartheid'

The Rockers Of Montreal, seen here performing in 2007, have pulled out of a music festival in Israel, accusing the Jewish state of "apartheid"

Rockers Of Montreal have become the latest musicians to pull out of a festival in Israel, accusing the Jewish state of "apartheid" and urging more activism.

The indie rock band -- which, despite its name, is from Athens, Georgia and not Quebec -- follows the pop singer Lana Del Rey in leaving the three-day Meteor festival, which opens Thursday in northern Israel.

The move comes amid a campaign by the BDS movement -- Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions -- that calls on musicians to shun Israel as a way to press the Jewish state to change its treatment of the Palestinians.

While artists who have heeded the boycott calls have generally released vague, diplomatic statements, Of Montreal -- known for its boisterous, synthesizer-driven psychedelic rock -- took aim squarely at Israeli policy, while stressing it was not condemning the people of Israel as a whole.

"After exhausting all of the different possible ways of justifying playing an Israeli party festival, while the political and military leaders of the country continue their murderous and brutal policies against the Palestinian people, we came to the realization that there is no actual appropriate move other than to cancel the show," Of Montreal wrote on its Facebook page late Tuesday.

"Now is not the time for escapism and celebrations. Now is the time for activism and protests against Israeli apartheid, Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the human rights atrocities being carried out everyday in Gaza by Israeli forces," it said.

The Israeli military on Wednesday closed the sole crossing to the Gaza Strip, the impoverished, densely populated pocket ruled by Islamist movement Hamas, after demonstrators threw rocks in a protest against a US decision to end funding for the UN agency which runs most of the territory's schools.

Organizers of the Meteor festival have criticized the BDS movement, saying it has "insanely politicized" an event that had no government funding and only had music as its cause.

"We believe deeply in music's capacity to transcend and heal humanity's rifts. This is where sincere dialogue and true understanding can take root," it said in a statement issued before the musicians' withdrawals

"Failure to identify that opportunity is an exercise in perpetuating hopelessness on all sides," it said.

Prominent musicians who remain on the festival lineup include the US rappers A$AP Ferg and Pusha T and the California fusionist producers Kamasi Washington and Flying Lotus.