Matisyahu says he was proud to ‘stand up’ to BDS movement


(JTA) — Matisyahu said that he was proud to stand up to the BDS supporters who attempted to bar him from playing at a Spanish music festival.

“I’m glad that it happened in the end,” the American Jewish reggae singer told Haaretz on Wednesday after visiting the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, Israel. “I was given the opportunity to stand up for what I believe in, and as a proud Jew, to stand up for Israel.”

Matisyahu will perform at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem on Saturday night.

In August, he was slotted to play at the Rototom SunSplash reggae music festival before BDS activists pressured the event’s organizers to disinvite him because of his support for Israel. After a backlash from Jewish organizations and the Spanish government, the festival organizers apologized and reinvited Matisyahu. He performed before a crowd that included people waving Palestinian flags.

On Wednesday, Matisyahu did not go as far to say that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is anti-Semitic.

READ: The Matisyahu affair: In Europe, conflating Jew and Israel

“There’s probably a thousand different reasons why a thousand different people in that group are doing what they’re doing,” he told Haaretz. “Whether or not they’re anti-Semitic or they’re this or they’re, that doesn’t matter to me so much.”

In the meeting Wednesday with Shimon Peres, the former Israeli president for whom the peace center is named, Matisyahu said he was proud to play in Israel, especially during the violence in Jerusalem.

“I think it’s an important thing for Jews outside of Israel, American Jews like myself, to come to Israel no matter what’s happening here,” he said.

Peres told the singer, “Not only do you represent peace and hope and togetherness, but also courage.”

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