The festival’s organizers said they felt pressure from the Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel movement to publicly prove the American-born artist supports a Palestinian state, Matisyahu said in a Facebook statement Monday, prompting them to turn to the rapper for evidence.
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.
Artists set to perform at the music festival threatened to cancel their shows if Matisyahu went on stage, the Times of Israel reported, but Matisyahu refused to mesh politics with music, stating, “music has the power to transcend the intellect, ideas, and politics, and it can unite people in the process.” As a result, the artist’s performance was canceled.
Rototom organizers released a statement Saturday, in which they publicly supported peace, human rights and open dialogue, but referred to the “Palestinian territories” as land “occupied by Israel.”
Though not Israeli, Matisyahu has visited the country and performed there several times. He publicly denounced the organizers’ decision to mix art and politics.
“The festival kept insisting that I clarify my personal views; which felt like clear pressure to agree with the BDS political agenda,” he said. “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.”
Matisyahu plays First Avenue in Minneapolis on October 2nd.