Spanish courts reverse two pro-BDS municipal rulings
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Spanish courts reverse two pro-BDS municipal rulings

Judges approve criminal probe into possible discrimination by music festival that tried to bar reggae star Matisyahu

Jewish American singer Matisyahu performing at the Rototom SunSplash festival in Spain, August 22, 2015 (screen capture: YouTube)
Jewish American singer Matisyahu performing at the Rototom SunSplash festival in Spain, August 22, 2015 (screen capture: YouTube)

Spanish courts have reversed two municipal resolutions on boycotting Israel and approved a criminal investigation into possible discrimination by organizers of a music festival who sought to bar the Jewish American singer Matisyahu.

The rulings on decisions passed last year by the local councils of Xeraco and Olesa de Montserrat were given independently last month by courts in Valencia and Barcelona, according to a report last week by the pro-Israel ACOM group, which has obtained similar reversals in at least a dozen other Spanish municipalities in recent months.

The courts cited various principles, including jurisdictional issues and an irreconcilable infringement of anti-discrimination laws.

The January 26 ruling by Xeraco, near Valencia, reversed a resolution that in May prompted the same court to issue an injunction against any action on Israeli firms and institutions.

A BDS protest against Israel in Barcelona, Spain, June 2014. (YouTube screenshot)
A BDS protest against Israel in Barcelona, Spain, June 2014. (YouTube screenshot)

The Barcelona court said in its ruling the following day that Olesa de Montserrat had “imposed unconstitutional restrictions on the freedom to hold personal beliefs and opinions.”

More than 50 Spanish municipalities have endorsed the principles of BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, the highest number in any European country. The Spanish judiciary has in recent months taken a tougher stance on the practice.

In neighboring France, promoting the BDS movement is illegal under legislation from 2003 that lists efforts to bring about the singling out of nations and their peoples as a form of hate crime. Similar legislation is being prepared in Britain, the government said last year.

Matisyahu performing at the Rototom Festival in Benicassim, Spain, August 22, 2015. (YouTube/via JTA)
Matisyahu performing at the Rototom Festival in Benicassim, Spain, August 22, 2015. (YouTube/via JTA)

Separately, a different Valencia court last week approved opening a probe into the conduct of organizers of the 2015 Rototom SunSplash Festival, who canceled Matisyahu’s performance amid pressure from the BDS movement, but then re-invited him following an uproar over his exclusion.

Matisyahu is not Israeli and was the only Jewish performer on the festival’s roster for that year. After he ignored requests that he issue a statement declaring his support for Palestinian statehood, the festival canceled his appearance.

Only Matisyahu was asked to sign the declaration in support of a Palestinian state. His disinvitation sparked condemnation from Jewish organizations and the government of Spain. The complaint against the festival was filed by the Jewish Community of Madrid.

In Spain, some tribunals open criminal probes almost automatically into certain alleged offenses, including incitement to hatred.

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