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August 30, 2015 12:34 pm

Matisyahu Speaks Out About ‘Intense’ Spain Concert, Accuses Organizers of Antisemitism

avatar by Shiryn Solny

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Matisyahu says he had never experienced antisemitism until he performed in Spain last week. Photo: Facebook.

Matisyahu said he had never experienced antisemitism until he performed in Spain last week. Photo: Facebook.

Jewish-American reggae star Matisyahu spoke out on Sunday about his widely reported performance at the Rototom Sunsplash festival in Spain last week, saying he felt the audience was full of hatred.

“People were standing on each other’s shoulders with [Palestinian] flags giving me the middle finger. It was intense,” he said, in an interview with The Daily Beast. “It was not peaceful. It was like ‘F*** you, Matisyahu.’ I’ve never had the experience of anything like that, as a Jew or anything in my life.”

Rototom organizers originally canceled Matisyahu’s concert after he refused to publicly endorse the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and sign a letter of support for Palestinian statehood. Later, at the behest of the Spanish government, and following outrage from Jewish groups, the concert organizers issued a public apology to the singer, and invited him back to perform.

Matisyahu was the only artist scheduled to perform at Rototom who was called on to make a public statement on a political issue. When asked if he thought being singled out with the demand constituted antisemitism, Matisyahu told The Daily Beast, “Absolutely. That was the first thing I said in the first email I wrote back to them.”

He said the incident was his first encounter with antisemitism.

“I’ve been touring in Europe even from the time I had a beard and yarmulke,” he said, referring to his earlier Chasidic look, now replaced with a clean-shaven, bare-headed hipster style. “And I had never been with people who expressed what I thought was outright antisemitism. You hear stories. You hear things on the news, but at the end of the day, you relate back to your experience.”

Matisyahu told The Daily Beast that before he took to the stage last Saturday night, he noticed a Palestinian flag in the audience. When he stepped out in front of the crowd, however, “About 20 flags came out.”

The artist, whose real name is Matthew Paul Miller, said his Rototom performance was one of the only times he has ever felt unsafe going out on stage.

“I just assumed everyone in the festival was going to be regular reggae festival-goers, so I got really nervous,” he said. “I felt totally open and that anyone could do whatever they want.”

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  • Rose-Marie Weissman

    Matisyahu, You make me proud to be a Jew!
    I grew up (the child of Holocaust survivors) — ashamed at the feeling that the Jews of Europe didn’t fight, and if they did so — not nearly enough.

    Israel has given us our home where none existed before during those dark years. Yet, I find many Jews in the diaspora and in North America in particular, seem to be very detached from what it means to be Jewish and our beloved Israel.

    Thank you! You have set the bar high! Anti-semitism has always existed but with public representatives such as yourself, anti-semiti has a much tougher job!

  • Zak Glozman

    Shalom Matthew . I salute you , Kol Hakavod

  • AJ

    If I were him I would have not done the show saying I will not go where I am not welcomed.

    However, the show he did put out singing “Jerusalem” was like a finger int he eye to these hateful idiots and I was proud to see it.

  • Fred

    Matisyahu now you got to know European anti Semitism it
    is festering sore of a murderous continent. Its misfortune is that it being invaded by NAZI Muslims nothing changed but the dress.

  • Anglojew

    Matisyahu was truly heroic.

    Most Spaniards are open, proud, unreconstructed Jew-haters.

    The irony is Muslims also want to conquer Spain.

    • Joel Scott Strauss

      The land that was Spain was part of the Muslim rule. It goes way back to the Dark and Middle Ages. I agree that it is likely that the Muslims will conquer Spain again.

      • John Bonanno

        Joel, it is likely all Europe will fall to Islam.

  • Jane S Gabin

    Thank you, Matisyahu, for your courage in performing despite the hostile atmosphere. And for singing “Jerusalem”! Am yisroel chai!

  • welcome to the real world

  • Ephraim

    I see that the Inquisition is not dead after all.

  • enufizenuf

    Too bad Danny Barenboim doesn’t do reggae, he’d have been happy to sign their letter.

    • Mordecai Ben Natan

      Kol Hakavod to Matitsyahu.
      You are a real JEW.
      May HASHEM bless you for what you did.

      Pity that people like Barnboim dont seem to understand what being Jewish means.
      Hopefully, he will wake up and smell the roses, and strt to think like a Jew and support Israel against haters of Israel and Jews.
      People like Baranboim who lived in Germany before WW2, thought that they were safe from persecution. Unfortunately, it was too late for them to “learn”

  • Danny Kid

    All of Europe, not just Spain, expelled and murdered its Jews and wwel omed the Muslim Arabs. Gezundheit. When all the Jews leave, as they should and will, when Europe will be Judenrein, oh how blood will flow in Europe’s gutters and clot its drains. It will be time to reap what has been sown. Gezundheit.

  • ART

    Matisyahu is a very brave young man. I thank him for standing up to the bigots I salute him for singing Jerusalem I wish our American Jews had his integrity