Rototom festival reverses decision to ban Jewish US singer Matisyahu

Event organizers apologize for canceling musician's concert and invite him to perform again

Matisyahu performs in Seattle in October.
Matisyahu performs in Seattle in October.M. Hayward (Getty)

The Rototom Sunsplash festival has gone back on its decision to ban Jewish-American reggae singer Matisyahu and once again invited him to perform at the event as planned this Saturday.

After concern was raised by the Spanish government and the Israeli and US embassies in Madrid, event organizers also issued a public apology to the musician – whose real name is Matthew Paul Miller – for canceling his scheduled appearance when they were reportedly pressured by the local BDS [Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions against Israel] movement.

“Rototom Sunsplash rejects anti-Semitism and any form of discrimination towards the Jewish community; we respect both their culture as religious beliefs and we sincerely apologize for what has occurred,” concert organizers wrote in a statement released on Wednesday.

Rototom Sunsplash rejects anti-Semitism and any form of discrimination towards the Jewish community”

“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,” the statement read.  

In this way, the festival backtracked on its prior position, arguing that the cancellation had been due to Matisyahu’s failure to respond to a request to outline his position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Organizers also highlighted the event’s 22-year “commitment to a culture of peace and respect between cultures, including the freedom of belief as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Spanish Constitution.”

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The cancellation of the concert provoked criticism from the Spanish and the Valencia regional government, as well as Jewish communities and the Israeli and US diplomats in Spain.  

“The imposition of the requirement for a public statement, which was only demanded from him, constitutes a way of acting that violates the conscience and that, to the extent that it is determined by the fact that Matisyahu is Jewish, questions the principle of non-discrimination that is the basis of plural and diverse societies,” the Spanish Foreign Ministry said in a press release on Tuesday.

Previously, Matisyahu had described in a post on his Facebook page, what he called the “appalling and offensive” efforts to “coerce” him into making a public statement if he wanted to perform on the last day of the eight-day event in Castellón province.


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