Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Matisyahu Reinvited to Spain's Music Festival
Spanish festival apologizes to Matisyahu, reinvites him
- Herb Keinon & Michelle Malka Grossman
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.
"Rototom Sunsplash would like to publicly apologize to Matisyahu for having cancelled his concert and invite him to perform at the festival...," an official statement 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. BDS had convinced five artists out of the 250 scheduled to drop out of the festival, convincing Rototom to cancel Matisyahu's performance instead. 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.
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.
Spanish Officials Condemn Cancellation
The Spanish government condemned the cancellation of American Jewish musician Matisyahu's appearance at the Rototom Sunsplash festival after he failed to meet demands that he clarify his position on Palestinian statehood.
"Imposing a public declaration (from Matisyahu) puts into question the principle of non-discrimination on which all plural and diverse societies are based," the Spanish foreign ministry said.
Some government officials in Valencia also spoke out against the actions of the festival, which receives public funding.
BDS May Regret Getting Matisyahu Banned from Festival
The BDS wasn’t alone in its discrimination. According to Rolling Stone magazine, “Other artists at the Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival threatened to pull out of the festival since they felt that he, as a Jewish American, was ‘seen to represent Israel.'”
As an American Jew, he was seen to represent Israel.
It would be bad enough – if he were Israeli – to discriminate against him for his national origin, which the BDS openly advocates. But to target him because he’s a Jew and supports the Jewish state is nothing short of anti-Semitism. Then to pressure him to issue a political statement against his will takes it another level altogether.
And it may have been a step too far.
While the festival is absorbing the bulk of the condemnations, the BDS movement is claiming credit for the victory, calling it a “cry of popular solidarity.” It may be a victory they will come to regret.
The real cry of solidarity, clearly, is with Matisyahu, who already enjoys the support of fans across the world. And that audience will only grow from the sympathetic coverage he’s receiving across the globe.
The story also highlights the vast difference in what the BDS likes to say and what it actually does in the world. As the Wall Street Journal aptly put it: “Remember the Matisyahu affair the next time proponents of the anti-Israel boycott, divest and sanction movement insist their aim is to promote Palestinian rights, not anti-Jewish bigotry.”
And if people start to forget, just remind them.