‘A clear instance of anti-Semitism’: WJC condemns cancelation of Matisyahu gig at Spanish festival
World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder expressed “outrage” and “utter bewilderment” on Sunday at news that a music festival in Spain had disinvited an American Jewish musician for failing to sign a pro-Palestinian declaration. Lauder declared: “This is a clear instance of anti-Semitism, and nothing else.” He urged Spanish authorities “to condemn this sad incident and to take appropriate action against those responsible for it.”
News media reported on Sunday that the appearance of the US reggae singer Matisyahu, who is Jewish, was canceled by the organizers of the Rototom Sunsplash festival, which will take place next weekend in Benicàssim, in eastern Spain, following pressure from the anti-Israel BDS movement.
Lauder added: “Matisyahu is an American Jew. More importantly, like everybody else in a free and democratic society, he not only has a right to express his views – whether you agree with them or not — but he also has every right not to have the repugnant views of the festival organizers imposed on him. He is a musician who has been denied the opportunity to play his planned gig at a European reggae festival purely because he is Jewish and because he refuses to side with the vicious and bigoted BDS movement.
“And to the people of Spain, I say this: Being a ‘Zionist’ and supporting Israel has nothing to do with supporting apartheid. Rather, it is about supporting democracy, the rule of law, freedom, openness and diversity.”
The WJC president declared: “The Rototom Sunsplash festival benefits from financial support from public authorities. I very much hope that they will convey a clear message to the organizers that either they re-invite Matisyahu and apologize for their outrageous behavior, or they pay back that financial aid, because anti-Semitism and racism must not be rewarded by public support – not in Spain, and not anywhere else.”
The Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain (the WJC’s affiliate in Spain), also condemned the incident, calling it “cowardly, unjust and discriminatory.” The FCJE said in a statement that the BDS movement had used “its entire anti-Semitic arsenal” against the participation of the singer in the festival, and lamented that Matisyahu, being a Jew, was required to sign up to a political stand, unlike the other participants” in the event.