Spanish Festival Cancels Matisyahu for Not Endorsing Palestinian State

Barry Brecheisen/Invision for Park City Live/AP Image
Barry Brecheisen/AP Image

A Spanish music festival canceled a scheduled concert on August 22 by American reggae star Matisyahu after he refused to write or videotape a message supporting a Palestinian state.

The Spanish daily El Pais reported that the Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival, prodded by members of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, issued a threat to the American Jewish singer, writing that if he would “sign such a declaration [publicly affirming his support for the Palestinians, he] can perform.”

Some other performers stated that they would not perform if Matisyahu did, as he was “seen to represent Israel.”

Rototom said on its Facebook page that their demand derived from “the festival’s sensitivity to Palestine, its people and the occupation of its territory by Israel.” The festival’s website trumpets a two-and-a-half-hour video featuring pro-Palestinian activists condemning Israel’s actions during the Gaza War. Spanish BDS activists were delighted Rototom canceled the show, citing Matisyahu for being a “Zionist” and “defending a state that practices apartheid and ethnic cleansing.”

Anti-Semitism in Spain has become fashionable; in June 2014, El Mundo, the second-largest circulation newspaper in Spain, published an op-ed written by novelist and playwright Antonio Gala, in which he wrote of the Jewish people:

What is happening is that suddenly humanity is sick and tired of them: a phenomenon that has been repeated throughout their history, as if they were not made to coexist with others… It is normal that they manage to screw the weakest or those who today enjoy their ancient lands. It is always the same. It’s not strange that they have been so frequently expelled. What is surprising, is that they persist. Either they are not good, or someone is poisoning them.


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