الثلاثاء , يونيو 9 2020

Festival censured over Jewish singer

Jewish-American singer Matisyahu

Matisyahu says that he has tried to keep politics out of his music

The Spanish government has condemned a festival for cancelling a Jewish-American singer’s concert after he refused to share his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The foreign ministry said asking reggae singer Matisyahu to make such a declaration “put into question the principle of non-discrimination”.

He had been due to appear at the Rototom Sunsplash festival this week.

Israel welcomed the Spanish government’s stance.

The Spanish foreign ministry said the request from the festival was an “act that violates the conscience”.

Jewish groups have also condemned the festival’s actions.

‘Cowardly and unfair’

In a post on his Facebook page, Matisyahu said the pressure to air his views was “appalling and offensive”.

A drive to cancel Matisyahu’s appearance was launched by the Valencia branch of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

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

BDS Valencia said that, because of some of Matisyahu’s previous comments on Israeli affairs, his values did not tally with those of the festival, namely “peace, equality, human rights and social justice”.

The singer, born in Pennsylvania, said he did not insert politics into his music, and that he wanted it to be accessible to all.

The Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities said the move was “cowardly, unfair and discriminatory”.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said the decision was a “clear instance of anti-Semitism”.

The festival’s organisers 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”.

They later added: “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.”

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