Matisyahu to perform at Spain festival after ban rescinded
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Matisyahu to perform at Spain festival after ban rescinded

Jewish American singer confirms appearance, writing on Facebook: ‘Today music wins. Freedom of expression wins’

Matisyahu performs onstage at Park City Live Day 1 on January 16, 2014 in Park City, Utah. (Barry Brecheisen/Invision for Park City Live/AP Images)
Matisyahu performs onstage at Park City Live Day 1 on January 16, 2014 in Park City, Utah. (Barry Brecheisen/Invision for Park City Live/AP Images)

Jewish American singer Matisyahu confirmed his participation in a Spanish music festival on Friday, two days after organizers apologized for canceling his appearance following an uproar by pro-Palestinian groups.

The decision by the Rototom SunSplash festival to pull Matisyahu, who fuses reggae and hip-hop with Jewish influences, from its line-up was criticized by Jewish groups, the Spanish government and by the US and Israeli embassies in Spain.

The incident occurred after a local branch of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement accused the 36-year-old of being a “Zionist” who supports the practice of “apartheid and ethnic cleansing”.

When Matisyahu declined to reply to festival organizers’ questions about whether he was in favor of a Palestinian state, they cancelled his appearance in a decision denounced by the Spanish government.

On Wednesday, festival organizers backtracked and apologized to the singer, re-inviting him to perform at the week-long festival — one of Europe’s largest reggae festivals which is held in Benicassim in eastern Spain.

“Rototom SunSplash admits that it made a mistake, due to… the campaign of pressure, coercion and threats employed by the BDS Pais Valencia which made it think that the normal functioning of the festival could be threatened,” organizers said in a statement on Wednesday.

Matisyahu, who had initially denounced the cancellation as “appalling” on Facebook, accepted the new invitation, a statement from the organizers said Friday.

“Matisyahu has confirmed his participation in the 22nd annual Rototom SunSplash festival and will perform on the main stage on Saturday as originally planned,” it said.

The singer appeared to confirm his attendance in a Facebook post Friday, writing, “Today music wins. Freedom of expression wins. Spain, this Saturday Aug 22nd.”

“I have always believed in the power of music to unite all people, regardless of religion, politics or geography,” he wrote. “This was an excruciating decision, as I felt that my core, essential being was being used as a pawn for political convenience.”

The singer also paid tribute to those who had expressed outrage over the ban, saying: “My deepest thanks to the worldwide community for rallying to the cause of musical freedom. Most of all, thank you to my incredible fans and to so many people of all faiths who refused to remain silent in the name of artistic freedom. This is your victory.”

"Today music wins. Freedom of expression wins. Spain, this Saturday Aug 22nd. I have always believed in the power of…

Posted by Matisyahu on Friday, 21 August 2015

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report

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