Facing pressure from the anti-Israeli BDS campaign, the Spanish reggae festival Rototom Sunsplash removed Matisyahu from its lineup earlier this week when the Jewish rapper refused to clarify his stance on Palestine. Jewish rights organizations and Matisyahu himself decried the decision as prejudiced and offensive — why weren’t other performers being subjected to this same standard? Even the Spanish government condemned Rototom Sunsplash’s decision; the Spanish foreign ministry issued a statement Tuesday declaring that Matisyahu’s exclusion “puts into question the principles of non-discrimination on which all plural and diverse societies are based.” After all that blowback, the festival is changing its tune.
A new post on Rototom Sunsplash’s Facebook page apologizes for removing Matisyahu and invites him to perform as scheduled. The post explains that festival organizers were not reasoning clearly because they were worried about BDS disrupting the event due to “pressure, coercion and threats” from the campaign. The key sentence is the first one: “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.” No word yet whether Matisyahu accepts the apology or plans to perform at the festival, but we’ll let you know when he responds. In the meantime, here’s Rototom Sunsplash’s full statement:
A Rototom Sunsplash public institutional declaration regarding the cancellation of Matisyahu
1. 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, thereby rectifying point 4* in the previous release regarding this controversy.
2. Rototom Sunsplash would like to publicly apologize to Matisyahu for having cancelled his concert and invite him to perform at the festival next Saturday 22 August, as was initially programmed in the lineup.
3. 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.
4. After 22 years of history, Rototom Sunsplash reaffirms its 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.
* “Rototom Sunsplash, after having repeatedly sought dialogue given the unavailability of the artist for comment, in order to clearly declare himself regarding the war and in particular the right of the Palestinian people to have their own State, has decided to cancel the performance of Matisyahu scheduled for August 22”