Jewish groups fume over nixing of Matisyahu gig

The Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities condemns a Spanish music festival that demanded that Jewish-American reggae star Matisyahu endorse Palestinian statehood, and then canceled his upcoming show after the singer declined.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder also expresses outrage at the festival’s organizers, and demands that Spanish authorities “take appropriate action against those responsible for the decision,” according to Reuters.

The Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival called off the formerly Hasidic rapper’s August 22 show, with organizers saying Matisyahu had refused to comply with their demand to pen a statement or a video message backing “the Palestinians’ right to a state.”

Festival organizers were driven by intense pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the reports said. Artists scheduled to perform at the event threatened to cancel their appearances if Matisyahu were to perform, because he was “seen to represent Israel.”

Although not Israeli, Matisyahu has visited and performed in the Jewish state multiple times.

In a statement on Facebook, Rototom organizers said that the move was linked to “the festival’s sensitivity to Palestine, its people and the occupation of its territory by Israel.”

Matisyahu will be replaced by Jamaican reggae artist Etana.

Matisyahu, who was raised a Reconstructionist Jew in West Chester, Pennsylvania, joined the Chabad movement in 2001 and burst onto the music scene in 2004 as a bearded, beat-boxing, Hasidic star. In 2011, he parted ways with Orthodox Judaism, but continues to perform internationally and maintains that his music still draws inspiration from Jewish religious sources.

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