Spanish Court Acquits BDS Supporters Who Called on Festival to Drop Matisyahu Gig

Court drops hate crime charges brought against activists demanding that Matisyahu, who is not an Israeli citizen, declare his support for Palestinian statehood as a condition for his performance

Cnaan Liphshiz
JTA
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Matisyahu performing in Jerusalem, October 10, 2015
Matisyahu performing in Jerusalem, October 10, 2015Credit: Lior Mizrahi
Cnaan Liphshiz
JTA

A court in Spain has acquitted eight activists of hate crime charges for their role in demanding that the Jewish American singer Matisyahu declare his support for Palestinian statehood as a condition for his performance at a music festival.

The Valencia Appeals Court on January 11 acquitted the members of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement of the charges brought in 2017 by a pro-Israel organization over their role in the 2015 action against the singer, whose real name is Matthew Paul Miller, El Salto reported Monday.

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The court accepted the defendants’ claim that their action on Matisyahu was protected by freedom of expression and that their intention was not to discriminate against Matisyahu because he is Jewish but to protest Israel’s policies.

Matisyahu had been invited to perform at the Rototom music festival in 2015. But a campaign prompted the organizers to demand that Matisyahu, who is not an Israeli citizen but has performed in Israel and at an AIPAC junket, make the declaration on Palestinian statehood if he wishes to perform. The activists were part of the campaign and Matisyahu was the only performer asked to make statements about the subject.

Matisyahu refused, and amid an outcry the organizers withdrew the demand and apologized to the performer.

Spanish courts in recent years have voided dozens of motions, including by municipalities, declaring support for BDS. The courts cited various grounds for their rulings, including constitutional provisions against discrimination.

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