Sorry, Matisyahu! Spanish reggae festival apologizes, reinvites Jewish artist to perform

Published August 19th, 2015 - 02:16 GMT
The Jewish American musician's concert was cancelled on Monday after the festival succumbed to pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Santions (BDS) movement. (Diffuser.fm)
The Jewish American musician's concert was cancelled on Monday after the festival succumbed to pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Santions (BDS) movement. (Diffuser.fm)

The Rototom Sunsplash reggae festival reinvited American Jewish musician Matisyahu to perform on August 22 as originally planned, following outrage from the Spanish government and people around the world.

He was dropped from the festival lineup earlier in the week after the festival succumbed to pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. 

"Rototom Sunsplash would like to publicly apologize to Matisyahu for having cancelled his concert and invite him to perform at the festival next Saturday 22 August, as was initially programmed in the lineup," an official statement on Wednesday read. 

The festival said that it made a mistake "
due to the boycott and the campaign of pressure, coercion and threats employed by the BDS País Valencià  threatening to affect the festival from functioning as normal.

 

Festival organizers rejected accusations of anti-Semitism. "We respect both their culture [and] religious beliefs and we sincerely apologize for what has occurred," they said.

BDS had convinced five artists out of the 250 scheduled to drop out of the festival, convincing Rototom to cancel Matisyahu's performance instead.

Before dropping Matisyahu, the organizers demanded that Matisyahu - an identifying Jew who in the early years of his career performed in the traditional garb of a Chabad hassid - issue a statement supporting a Palestinian state. The singer, who is neither Israeli nor makes any specific political statements  in his performances, refused to do so, and his show was cancelled.

On Tuesday the Spanish Foreign Ministry condemned the cancellation, saying that it rejects boycott campaigns and any sign of anti-Semitism.

"Imposing a public declaration (from Matisyahu) puts into question the principle of non-discrimination on which all plural and diverse societies are based," according to a statement put out by the ministry.

El Pais, a leading Spanish newspaper often critical of Israeli policies, editorialized on Tuesday that the cancellation was tantamount to “unacceptable discrimination.”

“It is absolutely unacceptable that in the Spain of the 21st century, individuals and organizations can still demand that somebody explain themselves in ideological terms in order to be able to exercise their profession, and takes us back to the dark days when everybody was required to prove their religiosity and purity of blood,” the editorial read.

The festival, according to the paper, is funded with public money. 

The Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain said it was considering taking the festival to court over its actions.


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