Matisyahu Plays Concert Just Outside Auschwitz.
Jewish reggae singer Matisyahu defiantly played a concert just outside of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp on Thursday, days after a Spanish music festival had cancelled - and then reinstated - his concert on the basis that he was Jewish.
"Played in the last remaining Synagogue outside of Auschwitz in the city Oswiecim," Matisyahu announced on his Facebook page. "Peace and blessings." The synagogue, according to JTA, was the "tiny" Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot synagogue in the infamous southern Polish town. This is not the singer's first appearance in Oswiecim; he has previously played there in 2011.
The decision by the Rototom SunSplash festival to pull Matisyahu, who fuses reggae and hip-hop with Jewish influences, from its line-up was criticized by Jewish groups, the Spanish government and by the US and Israeli embassies in Spain. The incident occurred after a local branch of the pro-Palestinian movement accused the 36-year-old of being a "Zionist" who supports the practice of "apartheid and ethnic cleansing."
When Matisyahu did not reply to festival organizers' questions about whether he was in favor of a Palestinian state, they cancelled his appearance in a decision denounced by the Spanish government.
Last week, festival organizers backtracked and apologized to the singer, reinviting him to perform at the week-long festival - one of Europe's largest reggae festivals which is held in Benicassim in eastern Spain. "Rototom SunSplash admits that it made a mistake, due to... the campaign of pressure, coercion and threats employed by the BDS Pais Valencia which made it think that the normal functioning of the festival could be threatened," organizers said in a statement on Wednesday. Pais Valencia, meanwhile, has claimed that its actions were not BDS because it allegedly does not target individuals, only organizations.