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    Matisyahu Tag

    You may recall the incident in the summer of 2015 involving Jewish American musician Matisyahu. His appearance at the Spanish Rototom Reggae festival was cancelled after threats from local Spanish activists from the Boycott, Divestment and Movement (BDS) movement. Spain has a particularly malicious BDS movement, which until recently, has had success convincing municipalities to boycott Israel, creating so-called Zionist-free zones. Those municipal boycotts have been declared to be illegal discrimination by Spanish courts. Matisyahu made a name for himself as a religious Jewish Reggae singer with hits advocating peace, such as One Day.

    The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has been targeting American Reggae musician Matisyahu because he is Jewish and refuses to denounce Israel. In the summer of 2015 an international firestorm of controversy erupted after BDS succeeded in getting Matisyahu banned at the Spanish Rototom Reggae festival. The ban was reversed only after an international outcry, including denunciations by the Spanish government and a leading Spanish newspaper that the action amounted to religious discrimination. So when Matisyahu booked an appearance in Ithaca, NY, as part of his world tour, it was not long before the local BDS crowd, including our own BDS "star," sought a boycott of the event and planned a protest. But it didn't work. There was a substantial backlash in favor of artistic freedom. Ithaca resident Linda Glaser wrote a powerful op-ed in The Ithaca Journal, Let Jewish artist perform in Ithaca:
    Artistic freedom is the right of every American, as it is based on the First Amendment right of freedom of speech. The Ithaca Coalition for Unity and Cooperation in the Middle East (ICU-CME) supports the right of American musician Matisyahu to perform and to be heard free from intimidation at the State Theatre of Ithaca.

    Matisyahu is the American Jewish reggae musician who has been targeted by the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Last summer, BDS managed to get Matisyahu banned from the Spanish Rototom Reggae Festival after he refused to sign a statement renouncing and denouncing Israel. Matisyahu, believed to be the only Jewish musician scheduled to perform, was the only musician asked to sign a political statement in order to appear. After denunciations of the ban as religious discrimination by the Spanish government and a leading Spanish newspaper, and an international outcry, the Festival organizers apologized. Matisyahu was reinstated and performed on the main stage. Matisyahu also is the target of a BDS group in Ithaca, NY, where he is appearing tonight at the historic State Theatre, as part of a world tour.

    I reported on November 22, 2015, that local Ithaca, NY, anti-Israel activists were objecting to the appearance of American Jewish reggae musician Matisyahu, Anti-Israel boycott movement targets Matisyahu again. The appearance is scheduled for this Friday night, December 4, 2015. That post had the history of how Matisyahu has been singled out for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement scorn because he is an American Jew who refuses to renounce and denounce Israel. In fact, Matisyahu has expressed support for Israel's right to exist and has come out against media demonization of Israel. That makes Matisyahu a marked man by BDS, and led to cancellation of his appearance last August at the Spanish Rototom Reggae Festival. The ban was reversed after a public outcry and Spanish government and media denunciations of religious discrimination. I also detailed how the local protest was organized by the same core group of people who organize just about every anti-Israel event in the Ithaca area, particularly Ariel Gold. Matisyahu - Ithaca State Street Theater At the end of my prior post, I noted:

    Important Update: Artistic freedom showdown as BDS protests Matisyahu appearance in Ithaca, NY ---------------------- Matisyahu, whose real name is Matthew Paul Miller, is the American Jewish reggae musician who rocketed to fame with his combination Hasidic Jewish and Reggae anthems such as One Day, a call for peace: Matisyahu has been targeted by the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. In the summer of 2015 an international firestorm of controversy erupted after BDS succeeded in getting Matisyahu banned at the Spanish Rototom Reggae festival after Matisyahu refused to denounce Israel. That political litmus test was applied to no other musician and to no other nation. The ban was reversed only after an international outcry, including denunciations by the Spanish government and a leading Spanish newspaper that the action amounted to religious discrimination. Matisyahu appeared at the festival where "pro-Palestinian" protesters tried to disrupt his performance. Now Matisyahu is under attack again, this time by an anti-Israel BDS group in Ithaca, NY. The group, calling itself The Ithaca Committee for Justice in Palestine, has a controversial history of inflammatory statements and actions.

    The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has declared that American Jewish musician Matisyahu must be banned from public concerts because he is too pro-Israel. In a report at the anti-Zionist Mondoweiss website,  Benjamin Norton (who criticized the ban at his own website before the post was taken down), lays out the position of Omar Barghouti, leader of the BDS movement, that Matisyahu's support for Israel makes him a bigot who must be banned. Among Matisyahu's alleged sins was supporting the Israel Defense Forces. At the anti-Zionist Electronic Intifada, American BDS leader Ali Abunimah makes the same argument. When Matisyahu finally was permitted to appear on stage at the Rototom Sunsplash Reggae festival in Spain, over the objections of BDS, he was faced with Palestinian flags protesting his appearance.

    Benjamin Norton is a leading author who favors the boycott movement (BDS) against Israel. Norton writes for the anti-Zionist Mondoweiss website, as well as a slew of other places on the topic of how bad Israel is. While I don't agree with most of what Norton says, he certainly is prolific and an upcoming opinion-leader in that sphere. So when I saw Norton pen a column severely criticizing the ban on American Jewish musician Matisyahu at the behest of a Spanish branch of the BDS movement, I was, well, surprised. All the more so because leading American BDS activists like Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal were seeking to justify the ban because Matisyahu was too pro-Israel. Norton wrote at his own website, Cancellation of Matisyahu’s Performance Blatantly Defies BDS [via Google cache] (emphasis added): http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Cug0nASZJxAJ:bennorton.com/cancellation-of-matisyahus-performance-blatantly-defies-bds/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    Matisyahu is the American Jewish musician who was banned by the Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival under pressure and threats from the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Leading American BDS activists support the ban. The ban created a strong reaction from the Spanish press and government, which called the ban blatant and illegal religious discrimination. The Festival organizers relented, apologized, and reinvited Matisyahu to appear. Matisyahu's appearance was greeted with joy by many at the festival, who didn't like the way BDS politicized Reggae music. His performance met with rave reviews, particularly his message of Peace (via El Mundo - Google Translate)

    The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement suffered one of its worst public relations debacles when it pressured the Spanish Rototom SunSplash festival to ban American Jewish musician Matisyahu. At so many levels, the incident exposed BDS for what it is - anti-freedom, anti-Jewish, anti-just about everything we hold dear. Left twisting in the wind are leading American BDS activists like Ali Abunimah, Max Blumenthal and Joe Catron who supported the ban, even as BDS leader Omar Barghouti ran for political cover and BDS author Ben Norton condemned the ban. BDS defenders of the Matisyahu ban claim the ban was justified because Matisyahu is Zionist and pro-Israel. https://twitter.com/BDSPaisValencia/status/630716300319424516 If being Zionist and pro-Israel were justification for a ban, then BDS would be justified in banning the vast majority of Jews from public appearances. So tell me again how BDS is not anti-Semitic? https://twitter.com/BDSmovement/status/634348175663480832 We mentioned yesterday that the festival organizers had apologized and reinvited Matisyahu to perform. Now the date is set, August 22, on the main stage:

    American Jewish reggae singer Matisyahu was banned from the Spanish Rototom Sunsplash festival after intense pressure from supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, who demanded that Matisyahu sign a pledge supporting a Palestinian state. Matisyahu was singled out because he was Jewish. He's not even Israeli. No other musician, regardless of his or her politics, was asked to take a political pledge. It was a huge victory for BDS, which routinely seeks to prevent Israeli musicians from appearing at festivals around the world for the crime of being Israeli and Jewish (the ban doesn't appear to be enforced as to non-Jewish Israelis.) When Matisyahu was first banned, there was much joy in BDS circles, particularly in the United States where BDS leaders like Max Blumenthal, Ali Abunimah and Joe Catron publicly supported the decision. (And apparently still do.) But then a funny thing happened on the way to this huge BDS victory. In fact, something quite unusual in the world of BDS bullying in Europe -- the world expressed outrage.

    We wrote the other day about how the Boycott, Divestment and Movement pressured the Spanish Rototom Reggae festival to ban American Jewish musician Matisyahu because he refused to sign a pledge supporting a Palestinian state. Matishayu's position was that he's just a musician and shouldn't have to take a political pledge, particularly since he was singled out because he's Jewish. No non-Jewish musicians were pressured to sign any pledges. He wrote on his Facebook page:
    "The festival organizers contacted me because they were getting pressure from the BDS movement. They wanted me to write a letter, or make a video, stating my positions on Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to pacify the BDS people. I support peace and compassion for all people. My music speaks for itself, and I do not insert politics into my music. Music has the power to transcend the intellect, ideas, and politics, and it can unite people in the process. The festival kept insisting that I clarify my personal views; which felt like clear pressure to agree with the BDS political agenda. 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 artist deserves to be put in such a situation simply to perform his or her art. Regardless of race, creed, country, cultural background, etc, my goal is to play music for all people. As musicians that is what we seek. - Blessed Love, Matis"

    For years we have been arguing that at most there is a thin line between the Israel hatred of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and hatred of Jews. BDS was born at the anti-Semitic 2001 Durban conference, but was repackaged as a grassroots "civil society" movement in 2005, and now has duped many progressives into thinking BDS is just about Israel leaving the West Bank. Groups like Jewish Voice for Peace do BDS's bidding is perpetuating this charade. That thin line has all but disappeared in Europe, where BDS paves the was to anti-Semitism: So it is, in a sense, no surprise to hear the outrageous news that American Jewish musician Matisyahu has been banned at a Spanish Reggae music festival due to pressure from the BDS movement after he failed to sign a statement recognizing a Palestinian state. BDS has shifted from its practice of banning and attacking Israeli musicians, to Jewish musicians who fail to pledge allegiance to the BDS movement. It was a natural shift for the movement. https://twitter.com/matisyahu/status/623024234701328384 The Times of Israel reports:
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