While reggae star Ziggy Marley can get away with supporting apartheid Israel, Matisyahu has not been so lucky, at least not in Spain.
Organizers of a Reggae festival in Spain dropped the reggae/hip-hop artist Matisyahu from their lineup because he would not endorse a Palestinian state. Evidently, Matisyahu believes like most Israelis that Palestinians are less than humans and not deserving of their own state. The annual reggae music festival, Rototom Sunsplash in Benicassim, Valencia, began August 15. Matisyahu was scheduled to perform August 22, the final day.
The festival supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, an international campaign started in 2005 that boycotts Israel. Academic groups, including some in the United States, have also supported the movement.
A post on the festival’s website says, “The Festival has decided to replace Matisyahu’s performance by Etana. The Jamaican artist will perform at the Main Stage the night of August 22.”
The Spanish news outlet El Pais reported on Sunday that the festival urged Matisyahu to sign a statement or otherwise endorse a Palestinian state. The artist refuse and took a similar stance as Ziggy Marley where in their eyes the Palestinians deserve to be oppressed.
“The fact is that right now the Matisyahu concert is canceled and in his palce is going to be Etana,” a representative for the festival, who would only give his first name, George, told 18 Karat Reggae. “The festival said Matisyahu should sign an endorsement and Matisyahu didn’t want to, and that’s the matter of the cancellation.”
Matisyahu’s manager, David Serber, said by email, “We are still dealing with the festival on this matter, but we plan on making a statement in the coming days.”
The Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain, an official partner of the Spanish government, said in a statement the cancellation was “cowardly, unfair and discriminatory.” That taxpayer money goes toward a festival that supports the BDS movement, the statement said, is “shameful.” Maybe he should tell this to the Palestinians who have to suffer daily under the hands of the Israelis.
“It is noteworthy that the festival is not interested in the opinions of other participants on policies of Iran, the Islamic State, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah,” the statement said.
The festival representative declined to respond to the federation’s statement.
Matisyahu, the stage name of Matthew Miller, is an American Jew, but not Israeli. He was affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement and sported a long beard and skullcap, but left the movement in recent years. He has publicly supported Israel, telling Ynet in 2009, “I will definitely move to Israel, God willingly. In the meantime I try to visit Israel every chance I get.”
It is a disgrace that people like Ziggy Marley and Matisyahu would attach themselves to reggae music, when one of reggae music’s main objective is to chant down oppression wherever it exists. Bob Marley must be rolling in his grave.