Spanish Foreign Ministry joins chorus of critics of Matisyahu exclusion

Ben Sales

(JTA) — The Spanish Foreign Ministry condemned the exclusion of American Jewish reggae singer Matisyahu from the Rototom Sunsplash music festival.

Matisyahu was disinvited from the festival after he refused to make a statement in support of Palestinian statehood, as festival organizers had demanded. He was to perform on Aug. 22.

“Requiring a public declaration, which was demanded of him alone, is a violation of conscience and — to the extent that it came because Matisyahu is Jewish — challenges the principle of non-discrimination which is the basis for all plural and diverse societies,” the ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

The United States Embassy in Madrid welcomed the ministry’s statement with its own statement Wednesday condemning the incident. The embassy said the United States promotes and defends “fundamental liberties,” and called reports of the cancellation “troubling.”

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The World Jewish Congress, American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defemation League and Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain also condemned Matisyahu’s exclusion.

In an editorial, leading Spanish newspaper El Pais wrote Tuesday that “He is the only musician performing at Rototom, which is funded with public money, who has been requested to make such a statement, and to make matters worse, he has been asked to do so solely on the grounds that he is Jewish: as said, he is not an Israeli national”

In a statement on his Facebook page Monday, Matisyahu called the cancellation “appalling and offensive.” He is currently touring in Europe and is scheduled to perform Wednesday in Frankfurt.

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