BMG, the music arm of media giant Bertelsmann, announced on Thursday a new campaign to combat a growing problem in Germany: anti-Semitism in schools. BMG will fund the joint campaign with a €100,000 donation, stressing it is “utterly opposed to anti-Semitism.”
The project is in response to reports of a rise in anti-Semitic activity in German schools, and comes on the heels of a controversial appearance by rap duo Kollegah and Farid Bang at last week’s ECHO Awards. The act caused an uproar after being nominated for two awards, despite having a song containing anti-semitic overtones. Relations with the Jewish community, the German music industry and past ECHO winners only got worse after the duo won for best hip/hop album and even performed.
BMG’s involvement in launching the anti-anti-semitism campaign stems from their involvement in releasing Kollegah and Farid Bang’s winning album, “Jung, Brutal, Gutaussehend 3,” in coordination with Banger Musik and Alpha Music Empire. In a statement, BMG Worldwide CEO Hartwig Masuch repeated the duo’s assertion that they do not hold hateful views but said the fallout over the ECHOs was the right time to engage in the painful issue.
“Kollegah and Farid Bang have repeatedly made it clear on the internet and speaking in public that they are not anti-Semitic, and they have apologized for any distress caused by the lyrics in question,” Masuch said. “BMG stands for values such as artistic freedom, creativity and diversity. We take the current discussion as an opportunity to publicize our clear stance against anti-Semitism and are determined to actively engage on this issue.”
Masuch also added, “We want to ensure that something positive emerges from the debate surrounding the ECHO Awards.”