Spanish festival reinvites Matishayu after international outcry

Reggae festival changes tack following formal Spanish condemnation issued after organizers axing the sole Jewish American act for his 'Zionism.'

A Spanish reggae festival on Wednesday reversed its decision to cancel an invitation to an American Jewish musician because he had failed to spell out his views on Palestinian statehood.



"Rototom Sunsplash apologizes publicly to Matisyahu for cancelling his concert and announces that it has invited him to perform next Saturday, Aug. 22, at the festival as initially planned," the festival organizers said in a statement.


The organisers said they had made a mistake under pressure from activists who call for a boycott and sanctions on Israel over its policies towards Palestinians.


The Spanish government condemned on the festival's decision to cancel Matisyahu's concert.


Spain said it rejected boycott campaigns and any sign of anti-Semitism, while reiterating its support for an independent Palestinian state through bilateral negotiations.


"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 in a statement on Tuesday.


The Spanish festival issued its own reasoning for the cancellation. "Rototom Sunsplash, after having repeatedly sought dialogue in the face of the artist's unavailability to give a clear statement against war and on the right of the Palestinian people to their own state, has decided to cancel the concert," they said in a statement.


The Israeli Embassy in Madrid has also denounced what it called “ideological censorship” by the festival, adding that, as the singer is not Israeli, the decision appeared to carry “anti-Semitic overtones.”


Jewish groups protest  

The cancellation drew protest from Jewish groups around the world. The Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities condemned the decision as cowardly, unjust and discriminatory, saying that Matisyahu had been asked to take a political position because he was Jewish when this was not required of other performers.


World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder also expressed outrage at the decision, urging Spanish authorities "to take appropriate action against those responsible for it."


Matisyahu himself took to facebook to expose the injustice. "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."  


Reuters and AFP contributed to this article.


פרסום ראשון: 08.19.15, 09:28
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