The decision earlier this week of the organizers of the Spanish Rototom Sunsplash reggae festival to cancel the performance of Jewish American singer Matisyahu was, rightly, met with widespread condemnation.
It is absolutely unacceptable that in the Spain of the 21st century, individuals and organizations can still demand that somebody explain themselves in ideological terms in order to be able to exercise their profession, and takes us back to the dark days when everybody was required to prove their religiosity and purity of blood.
According to Billboard magazine, the Spanish government, which funds the festival, condemned the dismissal of Matisyahu as well.
‘Imposing a public declaration [from Matisyahu] puts into question the principles of non-discrimination on which all plural and diverse societies are based,’ Spanish foreign ministry officials said in a statement sent to media outlets on Tuesday afternoon.
Some individuals made their opinions known to the group’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. Here are a couple of my favorites — I don’t think you need to know Spanish to understand them.
@sunsplash_es fascistas antisemitas. No pasarán!
— a. me5. z@m. l (@803558e9d7b7412) August 19, 2015
Today, the Rototom organizers issued an apology for the incident, saying that they reject anti-Semitism and discrimination. They also invited Matisyahu to perform as originally scheduled. (I’ll refrain from offering any opinion on whether Matisyahu should accept or not.)
Rototom’s statement makes plain what those of us who have been watching the BDS movement have known all along — that it relies on threats and harassment to enforce its racist point of view. It reads in part,
Rototom Sunplash admits that it made a mistake, due to the boycott and the campaign of pressure, coercion and threats employed by the BDS País Valencià because it was perceived that the normal functioning of the festival could be threatened. All of which prevented the organization from reasoning clearly as to how to deal with the situation properly.
Even in Rototom’s earlier statement in which it defended its removal of Matisyahu, it called the boycotters “an association which would not listen to reasonable things and which treats everything with ‘either you are with us or against us.'”
A movement whose cause was just would never need to resort to coercion, nor would advocates who had a sense of morality resort to such tactics. The BDS movement, however, is a movement based on slander and moral inversion, whose adherents cling to propaganda and reject fact. Hopefully the Rototom organizers and other musicians will have learned a lesson not only about anti-Semitism but about the BDS movement itself.
Oh and P.S., Here’s a link to the Amazon page for Matisyahu’s new album.