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Matisyahu can’t get enough of Jerusalem

Days after his sold-out appearance in Israel’s capital, reggae star announces he’ll be back on October 10

American Jewish singer Matisyahu performs at the Sacred Music Festival in the Old City of Jerusalem, September 4, 2015. (Eric Cortellessa)
American Jewish singer Matisyahu performs at the Sacred Music Festival in the Old City of Jerusalem, September 4, 2015. (Eric Cortellessa)

Jewish American reggae singer Matisyahu announced on Wednesday that he would return to Israel for an October 10 concert in Jerusalem, according to Army Radio.

The reggae star’s announcement came less than a week after he gave a sold-out performance at the Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival. It also followed his defiant appearance last month at a Spanish music festival that initially canceled his performance following pressure by pro-Palestinian groups.

The concert is set to be held in the Sultan’s Pool arena in Jerusalem, outside the Old City. Matisyahu will then return to the US for a cross-country tour.

Last month, Matisyahu’s scheduled performance at the Rototom Sunsplash Music Festival in Valencia, Spain, was pulled after a local branch of the BDS movement accused him of being a “Zionist” who supported “apartheid and ethnic cleansing.”

The BDS activists demanded that the 36-year-old artist publicly announce support for Palestinian statehood. When he refused to respond, festival organizers canceled his appearance. Rototom later backtracked – following public outrage – and apologized to the singer, re-inviting him to one of Europe’s largest reggae festivals.

“Honestly it was appalling and offensive that as the one publicly Jewish-American artist scheduled for the festival they were trying to coerce me into political statements,” Matisyahu said at the time.

Nevertheless, he performed his show, amid some heckling from pro-Palestinian activists who waved Palestinian flags throughout his time on stage.

Addressing his performance Friday in Jerusalem, Matisyahu said the festival “is proof that music should and can always transcend politics.”

“It is proof that people all over the world have more in common than what divides them, and seek acceptance and oneness with each other. It is proof that music can express freedom without borders. The festival’s vision fills me with the hope and belief that from Jerusalem we can answer those who choose conflict with the unifying call of music for all people regardless of faith or politics. I am excited to be joining this musical prayer from Jerusalem.”

Jessica Steinberg and Eric Cortellessa contributed to this report.

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