American Jewish musician Matisyahu on Monday responded for the first time to his being disinvited from a music festival in Spain due to pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
In a post on Facebook, the well-known musician said that music and politics should not be mixed together, and said the decision to ban him was “appalling” and “offensive”.
“The festival organizers contacted me because they were getting pressure from the BDS movement. They wanted me to write a letter, or make a video, stating my positions on Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to pacify the BDS people,” wrote Matisyahu.
“I support peace and compassion for all people. My music speaks for itself, and I do not insert politics into my music,” he continued. “Music has the power to transcend the intellect, ideas, and politics, and it can unite people in the process.”
“The festival kept insisting that I clarify my personal views; which felt like clear pressure to agree with the BDS political agenda. Honestly it was appalling and offensive, that as the one publicly Jewish-American artist scheduled for the festival they were trying to coerce me into political statements,” wrote Matisyahu.
“Were any of the other artists scheduled to perform asked to make political statements in order to perform? No artist deserves to be put in such a situation simply to perform his or her art. Regardless of race, creed, country, cultural background, etc, my goal is to play music for all people. As musicians that is what we seek,” he concluded.
News media reported on Sunday that the appearance of Matisyahu 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.
The boycotters claimed he supported "an apartheid state which practices ethnic-cleansing," according to Spain's El Pais daily, and demanded the festival cancel his appearance.
After days of pressure, concert organizers eventually capitulated, pulling his August 22 performance.
In a shocking display of overt politicization, Rototom Director Filippo Giunta reportedly turned to Matisyahu and demanded he produce a "signed statement or video" which stated "in a very clear way" that he supported the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state, as a precondition to performing.
World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder on Sunday expressed “outrage” and “utter bewilderment” at the news of the ban.
“This is a clear instance of anti-Semitism, and nothing else,” Lauder said in a statement, urging Spanish authorities “to condemn this sad incident and to take appropriate action those responsible for it.”