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August 19, 2015 9:30 am

Spanish Rototom Sunsplash Festival Backtracks on Decision to Cancel Matisyahu Gig, Apologizes to Star

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A music festival in Spain disinvited Matisyahu because he would not endorse Palestinian statehood. Photo: Instagram.

A music festival in Spain disinvited and then re-invited Matisyahu over pressure from BDS. Photo: Instagram.

The Rototom Sunsplash music festival in Spain backtracked on its decision to cancel U.S. reggae artist Matisyahu’s slot on its lineup, after the Spanish government condemned organizers’ decision to ban his show, Spanish El Pais reported on Wednesday.

Rototom apologized to Matisyahu, who is Jewish, saying it had come under pressure from the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS), which had vowed to upset order at the festival if Matisyahu was allowed to play.

“Rototom rejects antisemitism and any kind of religious discrimination, we respect the Jewish community and we publicly apologize for what happened,” the reggae festival wrote in a statement on Wednesday, according to El Pais. 

Organizers admitted the reason they canceled Matisyahu’s performance was because of threats and coercion from the local BDS chapter, BDS País Valencìa, although just a few days ago the U.S. artist said he was banned after he refused to issue a public statement on his positions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The festival’s decision to cancel his performance had sparked outrage among the Jewish communities of Spain, Israel and the U.S., but also the regional Valencia government and Madrid.

Responding to Rototom’s statement, World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder and Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain (FCJE) President Isaac Querub Caro, who had accused the festival of antisemitism, welcomed the retraction.

“This is a very significant and welcome decision, and we thank the organizers for realizing their mistake and for taking the necessary steps to remedy it. However, lessons must be learned from this affair,” the pair said.

“This affair leaves us with a sour taste in our mouths. It was yet another example of how anti-Jewish attitudes, dressed up as vicious and unfair criticism of Israel, are still widespread, and are especially prevalent in a number of far-left global political parties,” Lauder continued. “This affair also showed that the BDS movement is rotten at its core: Although pretending to fight racism, it is fuelled by anti-Semitism. It’s time people realize that and stop listening to this vicious form of propaganda.”

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