Spanish music festival reinvites Matisyahu after anti-Semitism backlash

Matisyahu. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

( The organizers of Spain's Rototom Sunsplash music festival on Wednesday apologized for canceling a concert by Jewish reggae star Matisyahu in response to pressure by local Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement activists. The festival, which had disinvited Matisyahu even though he is not Israeli himself, has reinvited the singer to perform as previously scheduled on Saturday.

Matisyahu’s performance in Spain was originally nixed after he refused to accede to the festival’s demand to endorse a Palestinian state. The Anti-Defamation League called the episode a “clear case of anti-Semitic discrimination.” On Tuesday, the Spanish Foreign Ministry also condemned the decision, saying it "puts into question the principle of non-discrimination on which all plural and diverse societies are based.”

Matisyahu himself had written on his Facebook page that the festival's move “was appalling and offensive, that as the one publicly Jewish-American artist scheduled for the festival they were trying to coerce me into political statements. Were any of the other artists scheduled to perform asked to make political statements in order to perform? No artist deserves to be put in such a situation simply to perform his or her art."  

The festival’s organizers said in a statement Wednesday that they "would like to publicly apologize to Matisyahu for having canceled his concert and invite him to perform at the festival next Saturday 22 August, as was initially programmed in the lineup.” The festival admitted that the cancelation was a result of "the boycott and the campaign of pressure, coercion and threats employed by the BDS País Valencià.”

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said, “The organizers have done the honorable thing and apologized. However, this affair leaves us with a sour taste in our mouths. It was yet another example of how anti-Jewish attitudes, dressed up as vicious and unfair criticism of Israel, are still widespread, and are especially prevalent in a number of far-left global political parties. This affair also showed that the BDS movement is rotten at its core: Although pretending to fight racism, it is fuelled by anti-Semitism. It’s time people realize that and stop listening to this vicious form of propaganda.”

Posted on August 19, 2015 .