Only a Jewish performer is asked to pass a litmus test on Israel and the Palestinians.
If there were any lingering doubt that the BDS movement which calls for the boycott, divestment and sanctions of and against Israel is rife with anti-Semitism, the cancelling of a Matisyahu concert in Spain should serve to silence the naysayers.
Over and over, we hear the mantra from extreme left circles that being anti-Israel does not make one anti-Semitic. And yet. A Jewish performer is faced with an ultimatum: Sign a statement on Palestine, or forfeit performing at a concert. No other performer scheduled to perform was compelled to make a similar statement.
Matisyahu, the formerly chasidic reggae singer, was booked to play the Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival in Valencia, Spain on Aug. 22. According to news reports and the singer himself, local BDS activists pressured the festival to force Matisyahu to sign a letter in support of the two-state solution. When he refused, he was booted.
Not to sound hyperbolic, but this is reminiscent of the arts under Soviet rule. Paint the party line, and you are in favor. Use your canvas to voice dissent, heres your one-way ticket out of the country, or worse yet, the gulag. The case of Matisyahu is almost more extreme, in that the BDS activists could not countenance the artist not expressing an opinion; the only acceptable option in their eyes was a public avowal of their position.
Said the singer in a Facebook post: I support peace and compassion for all people. My music speaks for itself, and I do not insert politics into my music . . . The festival kept insisting that I clarify my personal views; which felt like clear pressure to agree with the BDS political agenda.
Its incredible that people can continue to believe that rabid anti-Israel activism can be separated from anti-Jewish thinking and behavior. Wrote Matisyahu: 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.
Were any of the other artists scheduled to perform asked to make political statements in order to perform?
No, they were not. Worse, other performers at the festival threatened to pull out if Matisyahu did not make the statement. Instead of supporting a fellow artist, they ganged up on him.
According to the latest news reports, the festival has now re-invited Matisyahu to perform. This is a welcome development that reflects the power of protest, which came not only from outraged citizens but from the Spanish government itself.
And yet. The reversal does not change the fact that the decision was initially taken. The reversal does not change the anti-Semitic nature of the BDS tactics to begin with.
When Jews are singled out negatively, is there any explanation other than anti-Semitism?
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