Formerly Orthodox, still Jewish reggae artist Matisyahu was denied the ability to perform at the Rototom Sunsplash music festival in Spain because he refused to endorse Palestinian statehood. According to the Times of Israel:
Festival organizers were driven by intense pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the reports said. Artists scheduled to perform at the event threatened to cancel their appearances if Matisyahu were to perform because he was “seen to represent Israel.”
The organizers gave Matisyahu an ultimatum, telling him if he would “sign such a declaration [publicly affirming his support for the Palestinians, he] can perform,” according to Spanish daily, El Pais (Spanish Link).
Although not Israeli, Matisyahu has visited and performed in the Jewish state multiple times.
In a statement on Facebook, Rototom organizers said that the move was linked to “the festival’s sensitivity to Palestine, its people and the occupation of its territory by Israel.”
The front page of the Valencia-based festival’s website features a two-and-a-half hour video on pro-Palestinian activists holding Palestinian flags and decrying Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip.
Did you catch that? Matisyahu is Jewish, not Israeli. In other words, this wasn’t just about Israel, the pressure coming from the BDS movement targets Jews regardless of their nationality. The Spanish connotation, in this instance, adds the cherry to the creepy sundae. When flamingly liberal Jews like Jeffrey Goldberg observe, “In Spain, Jews are apparently still made to profess beliefs they don’t have,” you know there’s a serious problem.
In a statement responding to the incident, Matisyahu wrote in part, “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?”
John Podhoretz remarked, “There will be more of these loyalty oaths demanded of Jews–loyalties to anti-Zionism.”
Americans, by and large, tend to ignore the European music scene. After all, we’re the influencers of their pop culture. And it isn’t as if the Spice Girls were going to re-unite on this stage. Although this seems like a relative blip in music news, the ramifications are huge when it comes to the pushback against the BDS movement. Finally, overwhelming evidence exists that BDS isn’t just an Israel thing, isn’t just a movement against religious radicals in the desert. BDS is an anti-Semitic movement that targets Jews outright. Once again, Europe is caving to the fascists. Pray America does not.