Beliefs

Jewish singer Matisyahu’s concert canceled in Spain when he refuses to denounce …

Hasidic Jewish reggae musician Matthew Paul Miller, better known by his Hebrew name Matisyahu, poses for a portrait in Los Angeles June 16, 2009. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Hasidic Jewish reggae musician Matthew Paul Miller, better known by his Hebrew name Matisyahu, poses for a portrait in Los Angeles June 16, 2009. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Hasidic Jewish reggae musician Matthew Paul Miller, better known by his Hebrew name Matisyahu, poses for a portrait in Los Angeles on June 16, 2009. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

MADRID (Reuters) – Jewish groups protested on Monday after a Spanish reggae festival cancelled a concert by an American Jewish musician when he failed to reply to a demand to clarify his position on Palestinian statehood.

Matisyahu, who fuses reggae, hip-hop and rock with Jewish influences in his songs, had been due to perform next Saturday at the week-long Rototom Sunsplash reggae festival at Benicassim near Valencia in eastern Spain.


READ: Has Matisyahu left Judaism?


But after pressure from the local supporters of the movement to boycott and back sanctions against Israel over its policies towards Palestinians, the organisers announced over the weekend that they were cancelling his appearance.

“Rototom Sunsplash, after having 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 to their own state, has decided to cancel the concert,” they said in a statement.

The Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities condemned the decision as cowardly, unjust and discriminatory, saying that Matisyahu had been asked to take a political position because he was Jewish when this was not required of other performers.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder expressed outrage at the decision, urging Spanish authorities “to take appropriate action against those responsible for it.”

Matisyahu, whose real name is Matthew Miller, made no comment on the controversy on his Twitter or Facebook sites and the organisers said there had been no reaction from the musician, who had a concert scheduled in Brussels on Monday.

The Valencia section of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign had launched a public campaign for Matisyahu’s performance to be cancelled, saying he was a “lover of Israel” and demanding he make a public statement on his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The BDS movement, which objects to Israel’s 48-year-old occupation of territories where Palestinians seek an independent state, has campaigned against groups and individuals over their links to Israel.

The moves against Matisyahu had led some other participants to cancel their appearances at the festival, according to press reports.

About the author

Reuters

9 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • “Matisyahu, whose real name is Matthew Miller”. No, his Hebrew name is Matisyahu (Matityahu) and his English name is Matthew. They’re both his “real” names.
    Update: Matisyahu has released a statement, it is available on social media.

  • It took many years for South African Apartheid to fall. I’m glad to see continuing pressure in support of Israeli-occupied Palestine.

  • You’re glad to see only the Jewish performer forced to make a statement in favor of the Palestinians?

  • A Jewish musician nor any other artist should not be forced to speak of political matters. They are entertainers, not politicians.
    Israel is a sovereign state. The Palestinians should be able to live side by side equally with the Israelis as it states in Leviticus 19:34.
    If it can be done in other countries, it can be done in Israel.
    The main fear of the Jews is fear of intermarriage which would destroy Judaism. This need not happen if the Jews are firmly grounded in their faith. Yes, I know, it can still happen, but it can happen anyway here and there.
    Israel, show the world you are a real democracy!

  • The I have not problem with ending the occupation, if it is done in a way that supports Israeli’s security. The real goal of many BDS members is to end Israel’s existence, not just the occupation.

  • No, that’s way too strong. The organisers of a festival in Spain, not the whole nation, caved in to pressure – and then, in the face of further pressure to reinstate him, did just so.
    Feeble on their count but don’t tar a whole nation. Spain’s record, post-Franco, is impressively non-sectarian.

ADVERTISEMENTs