A Spanish reggae festival has cancelled a performance by American Jewish singer Matisyahu, after his refusal to meet their demand that he issue a statement endorsing a Palestinian state.
According to this report via Google translate, the groups and individuals that specifically targeted Matisyahu were “Pallasos Rebellion, María Carrión, director of the Sahara International Film Festival (FiSahara), the Saharawi activist Hassanna Aalia and audiovisual producer Fernando Garcia . . . the Saharan Desert Son Yslem rapper . . . [and] the Valencian group The Gossa Deaf.”
María Carrión is a director of FiSahara, a Spanish NGO that organizes a film festival to highlight the far-less well-known plight of the people of Western Sahara. Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco since 1975, and Morocco has built “a lengthy, fortified wall” to keep the former residents out. Unlike the Palestinian Arabs, however, the people of Western Sahara have renounced violence, and have been waiting since 1991 for a resolution from the UN. While most of the information on the festival is in Spanish, as far as I can tell, no similar loyalty oaths in favor of the Sahwari people have been required of any performers.
Nor have any similar demands been made that any participants in the music festival endorse the movement of the Basque or Catalonian people for independence from Spain. This past June the four-decade old Basque separatist movement demonstrated in favor of independence. In a non-binding Catalonian referendum in November, 81% of 2.25 million voters voted for independence from Spain.
Indeed, Matisyahu was the only performer asked to make this declaration about “Palestine.”
At least one of the other performers that called for Matisyahu to be banned from the Spanish festival appears to have been angered by Matisyahu’s participation in the Tulane University pro-Israel festival this past April. According to festival organizer Chloe Valdary, one of the festival’s goals was to “tak[e] the narrative back that was stolen from us and celebrat[e] the beautiful story of the liberation movement of the Jewish people.” Sadly, the anti-Israel activists proved unable to hear the message of the Tulane event.
What a shame that reggae music, which arose in protest of racism and discrimination, is the now the new frontier for institutionalized racism against Jews.