Spain’s Rototom Sunsplash festival renewed its invitation to American-Jewish reggae star Matisyahu after canceling the event due to pressure and threats by anti-Israel boycott activists.
Famous American-Jewish reggae musician Matisyahu’s invitation to perform at the Rototom Sunsplash festival in Spain on Saturday, which was canceled last weekend, was reinstated following an outcry against racism and discrimination by individuals and organizations, including United with Israel, which issued a petition against what it described as a “shocking and purely anti-Semitic” ban. Most significantly, the Spanish Foreign Ministry slammed the cancelation.
Rototom Sunsplash, in a public apology to Matisyahu issued Wednesday, confirmed that festival organizers had caved to pressure by BDS activists.
As stated in a public apology to Matisyahu on the festival’s official web page, “Rototom Sunplash admits that it made a mistake, due to the boycott and the campaign of pressure, coercion and threats employed by the BDS País Valencià because it was perceived that the normal functioning of the festival could be threatened. All of which prevented the organization from reasoning clearly as to how to deal with the situation properly.”
Celebrating an initial victory, BDS Valencia had called the cancellation of the concert a “success” and a “cry of popular solidarity” with the Palestinians.
Spanish Foreign Ministry Slams Discrimination
In acquiescing to BDS, Rototom had demanded that Matisyahu, in order to participate, state his views on the establishment of a Palestinian state and on Israel’s military actions during Operation Protective Edge, waged against Hamas terrorists in Gaza last summer.
“Requiring a public declaration, which was demanded of him alone, is a violation of conscience and — to the extent that it came because Matisyahu is Jewish — challenges the principle of non-discrimination which is the basis for all plural and diverse societies,” the Spanish Foreign Ministry stated on Tuesday.
Matisyahu: Political Demands ‘Appalling and Offensive’
In his own statement on the cancellation on Tuesday, Matisyahu explained: “The festival kept insisting that I clarify my personal views; which felt like clear pressure to agree with the BDS political agenda. Honestly it 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. Regardless of race, creed, country, cultural background, etc, my goal is to play music for all people. As musicians that is what we seek.”
Many commentators have noted that the vicious anti-Israel movement is essentially anti-Semitic, which is why it specifically targets the Jewish state for boycotts and other acts of discrimination.
In its apology statement, Rototom affirmed that it “rejects anti-Semitism and any form of discrimination towards the Jewish community; we respect both their culture as religious beliefs and we sincerely apologize for what has occurred.”
Furthermore, “after 22 years of history, Rototom Sunsplash reaffirms its commitment to a Culture of Peace and respect between cultures, including the freedom of belief as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Spanish Constitution.”
“On behalf of the Spanish Jewish community, I thank the organizers for their statement, and we hope that lessons have been learned for the future. We need to stand together and work together in the fight against all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and hatred,” the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain declared.