Spanish festival drops Jewish artist after asking him to explicitly support a Palestinian state

Other artists threatened to cancel their shows unless prominent hip-hop singer Matisyahu publicly accepted ideas of anti-Israel lobby group DBS.

Evangelical Focus

Protestante Digital, Jerusalem Post · CASTELLÓN · 17 AUGUST 2015 · 13:41 CET

Matisyahu, in a promotional picture.,matisyahu, rototom festival, sunplash, 2015
Matisyahu, in a promotional picture.

Jewish artist Matthew Paul Miller ‘Matisyahu’ will not sing at the Rototom Sunsplash Festival in Benicàssim (Spain) after he has been banned this weekend because his views of Israel.

The organisation of the festival dropped the well-known Hip-Hop/Reggae artist from the official program after 5 of the 250 artists threatened to cancel their shows if Matisyahu was not clear enough in his support of the Palestinian.

The decision was made public after a local branch of the Palestinian anti-Israel lobby group Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions had promoted a boycott against the artist from New York (Matisyahu is not from Israel, as many may think).

The artist was repeatedly described as a “representative of Israel”, a “Sionist” and was described as someone who “defends a state which promotes the apartheid and ethnic clensing.”



Last Tuesday, the festival wrote on its Facebook page that they contacted Matisyahu to determine his positions on Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that the singer said that despite his support for Israel, he has never inserted his political positions into his shows.

But this weekend, everything had changed, and the Spanish musical event announced it was dropping Matisyahu because he was unwilling to “clearly speak out against the [2014 Gaza] war and the right of Palestinians to have their own state.”

Matisyahu had been asked to write a declaration or record a video to explicitly show his support for the Palestinian ideas.



Matisyahu is the most well-known Jewish artist in the international Hip-Hop/Reggae environment. After a prominent career with almost a dozen of albums, his original musical style has led him to appear on many TV shows and musical events.


A concert in the Rototom Sunsplash festival in Benicássim (Castellón).

He is much respected among evangelical Hip-Hop artists and has done collaborations with bands like P.O.D., as well as with Muslim artists like Akon. Songs like “King without a Crown” have messianic references.



The Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain reacted to the news saying the festival’s decision has been “coward, unjust and discriminatory”.

They recalled that the festival receives public funding of both the city council of Benicàssim and the regional administration of Castellón (in Valencia). The decision leads to “discrimination and hate”, the federation said.

“Because of his Jewish identity, Matisyahu is asked to say what his political positions are, whereas other participants in the festival have not been (…) It is interesting that other participants have not been asked their opinion about the politics of Iran, the Islamic State, Syria, Hamas or Hezbollah and their persecution of Christians, Muslim minorities, homosexuals, women or their use of children in military conflicts”, the statement finished.

The World Jewish Congress has also already shown their “outrage”. President Ronald S. Lauder said: “This is a clear instance of anti-Semitism, and nothing else,” Lauder said and urged Spanish authorities “to condemn this sad incident and to take appropriate action against those responsible for it.”


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