A publicly funded Spanish music festival that banned Matisyahu after he refused to comply with a demand from the festival to issue a public statement in support of a Palestinian state has recanted and re-invited the Jewish reggae singer to perform.
Music Festival Removes Apparently Anti-Semitic Matisyahu Ban, Re-Invites Jewish Reggae Singer
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
A publicly funded Spanish music festival that banned Matisyahu after he refused to comply with a demand from the festival to issue a public statement in support of a Palestinian state has recanted and re-invited the Jewish reggae singer to perform, the Jerusalem Post reported today.
The Rototom Sunsplash banned Matisyahu after it received heavy pressure from the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement to do so, even though Matisyahu is not Israeli and does not involve Israeli politics in his music.
"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," the festival’s organizers wrote today in an official statement. Organizers also said they had acted against Matisyahu in error “due to the boycott and the campaign of pressure, coercion and threats employed by the BDS País Valencià” which had threatened to disrupt the festival.
No other scheduled performers were asked to make a public declaration in support of a Palestinian state, and Matisyahu is the only publicly identified Jewish performer scheduled to perform at the festival.
The ban on Matisyahu led to widespread international condemnation that was echoed throughout Spain, as well.
Even so, festival organizers insisted they are not anti-Semitic.
"We respect both their culture [and] religious beliefs and we sincerely apologize for what has occurred," organizers reportedly said.
At the time the festival banned Matisyahu, the BDS movement had convinced five of the 250 scheduled performers to cancel their shows – 2% of the total acts scheduled.
But that minuscule amount was enough to convince the supposedly not anti-Semitic organizers to ban Matisyahu – a move that was condemned by the Spanish Foreign Ministry and at least one top Spanish newspaper that is often critical of the Israeli government, writing in an editorial that trying to force Matisyahu to issue a declaration in support of a Palestinian state and then banning him when her refused to do so was the equivalent of “unacceptable discrimination.”
“It is absolutely unacceptable that in the Spain of the 21st century,” the El Pais newspaper’s editorial board wrote, “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.”
Update 11:17 am CDT – The festival posted its statement on its Facebook page in English and in Spanish:
A Rototom Sunsplash public institutional declaration regarding the cancellation of Matisyahu
1. Rototom Sunsplash 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, thereby rectifying point 4* in the previous release regarding this controversy.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
* “Rototom Sunsplash, after having repeatedly sought dialogue given the unavailability of the artist for comment, in order to clearly declare himself regarding the war and in particular the right of the Palestinian people to have their own State, has decided to cancel the performance of Matisyahu scheduled for August 22”
Declaración pública institucional del Rototom Sunsplash sobre la cancelación de Matisyahu
1. El Rototom Sunsplash rechaza el antisemitismo y cualquier tipo de discriminación religiosa; respetamos a la comunidad judía y pedimos sinceras disculpas por lo sucedido, rectificando así públicamente el punto 4* del anterior comunicado sobre esta polémica.
2. El Rototom Sunsplash pide públicamente disculpas a Matisyahu por haber cancelado su concierto y comunica que le ha invitado a actuar el próximo sábado 22 de agosto en el festival, como inicialmente estaba previsto en su cartel.
3. El Rototom Sunsplash reconoce su equivocación, fruto del boicot y de la campaña de presiones, amenazas y coacciones promovidas por BDS País Valencià al considerar que podían alterar gravemente el normal funcionamiento del festival, lo que impidió gestionar la situación con lucidez.
4. Después de 22 años de trayectoria, el Rototom Sunsplash reafirma su compromiso con la cultura de paz y del respeto entre culturas, incluida la libertad de creencias reconocida en la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos y en la Constitución Española.
*“El Rototom Sunsplash, después de haber buscado repetidamente el diálogo frente a la indisponibilidad del artista a la hora de pronunciarse claramente contra la guerra y sobre el derecho del pueblo palestino a tener su propio Estado, ha decidido anular el concierto de Matisyahu previsto para el día 22 de agosto”.
[Hat Tip: Yochanan Lavie.]