Rototom Sunsplash is an annual arts-and-music festival going on this week near Valencia, Spain. Showcasing “the cream of reggae’s crop,” Rototom Sunplash according to its organizers also aims to promote a culture of “peace, equality, human rights and social justice.” Unless you’re Jewish, that is.
This year Rototom Sunsplash disinvited Matthew Miller, a Jewish-American reggae star who performs under the name Matisyahu, because he wouldn’t publicly endorse a Palestinian state. The organizers said they cancelled Mr. Miller’s appearance after having “repeatedly sought dialogue in the face of the artist’s unavailability to give a clear statement against war and on the right of the Palestinian people to their own state.”
Mr. Miller was the only participant asked to engage in such political “dialogue.” Micah Shemaiah, Andrae Jay Sutherland and other Jamaican artists weren’t asked to disavow antigay violence in their country. Sudanese journalist and festival presenter Sami al-Hajj,a former Guantanamo detainee, wasn’t required to publicly denounce the Khartoum regime’s human-rights abuses.
“It was appalling and offensive,” Mr. Miller wrote of the incident, “that as the one publicly Jewish-American artist scheduled for the festival they were trying to coerce me into political statements.” Even the virulently anti-Israel Spanish press has denounced the move.
Many European cultural and intellectual elites still don’t see the connection between singling out the world’s sole Jewish state for opprobrium and the explosion of anti-Semitic sentiment on the Continent. Remember the Matisyahu affair the next time proponents of the anti-Israel boycott, divest and sanction movement insist their aim is to promote Palestinian rights, not anti-Jewish bigotry.