Jewish groups protest as Rototom Sunsplash drops Matisyahu

SPAIN: Jewish groups have criticised Rototom Sunsplash for cancelling the appearance of Jewish-American singer Matisyahu because he refused to disclose his stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Matisyahu, a reggae singer, rapper, and frontman of the eponymous alternative rock band, had been due to appear at the Rototom Sunsplash in Benicàssim, Spain, on 22 August.

Born in Pennsylvania, Matisyahu said he did not insert politics into his music, and that he wanted it to be accessible to all, writing on his Facebook page “The festival kept insisting that I clarify my personal views; which felt like clear pressure to agree with the BDS political agenda. “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.”

The campaign to cancel Miller’s appearance was launched by the Valencia branch of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. BDS Valencia said that, due to some of the previous comments Matisyahu had made on Israeli affairs, his values did not dovetail with those of the festival, specifically “peace, equality, human rights and social justice”.

The pro-Palestinian campaign calls for a boycott of Israeli goods until it complies with international law, which Israel calls misleading and anti-Semitic.

Sunsplah’s organises said Matisyahu’s appearance was cancelled after they had “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”.

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, criticised the decision and urged Spanish authorities “to take appropriate action against those responsible for it”, with The Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities feeling similarly, saying the decision was “cowardly, unfair and discriminatory”.

Sunsplash’s organisers have since tried to quell the controversy, saying in a statement: “We did not say no to Matisyahu because he has Hebrew roots or as a Zionist, but we just simply considered inappropriate organising something that would certainly generate a conflict.”