Statement by Rototom Sunsplash regarding the performance of Matisyahu
Given all the controversy around the concert of the American Hebrew artist Matisyahu next Saturday August 22, the festival wants to declare the following:
1. Rototom Sunsplash has demonstrated on numerous occasions its sensitivity regarding Palestine, its people and the occupation of their territories by Israel, as demonstrated by the holding of numerous debates in its Social Forum; giving voice to pro-Palestinian organizations, activists and initiatives that, while being a minority, also seek dialogue from Israel, together with the peaceful coexistence of both peoples. Below we cite the events held since the festival moved to Benicassim in 2010:
2014. “Palestine: the failure of the international community”, in which participated the documentary maker and Valencian activist David Segarra, detained by the Israeli army after the attack on the Freedom flotilla; Jorge Ramos, professor form the Universitat de València and member of the BDS País Valencià; Miquel Ramos, musician of Obrint Pas and activist; Shaban Kilani, doctor and member of the Palestinian Community Castellon.
2012. “Palestine: chronicles from the occupied territories.” With the presence of Suhell Nafal leader of DAM, one of the most popular Palestinian groups; and Amira Hass, Israeli journalist and expert on the occupation of Palestinian territories.
2011. “A light over the occupied territories.”, with Amit Lavi and Shachar Zemach, members of Breaking the Silence, organization of ex Israeli soldiers who denounce the orders they were given by the Israeli army to subdue the populations in the occupied territories on the Gaza Strip.
2011. “Freedom flotillas, from El Marmara up to today”, with members of Rumbo a Gaza, the musician Fermin Murguruza (who also performed on Main Stage in 2013) and the actor Willy Toledo.
2010. “Palestine: an ongoing conflict that is in need of international solidarity” with members of the Castellon for Palestine collective.
2. Rototom Sunsplash has a history for over 22 years of actively promoting peace, social justice and human rights. Among other factors it is worth highlighting the following:
The festival was considered by UNESO as an Exemplary Event for the decade 2001-2010 for its work in the promotion of a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence. With this award, UNESCO took into consideration and confirmed the festival’s efforts in the promoting intercultural exchange and dialogue as a fundamental tool in the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
The festival has always had a clear and active stance in relation the international conflicts and the violation of human rights. Among the activities in which it has participated, are for example the promotion the historic gathering for peace in front of the NATO base in Aviano in 1999 and its participation in the protests against the invasion of Iraq.
The festival has received the Nobel Peace Laureates Rigoberta Menchú and Shirin Ebadi in the Social Forum and on the Main Stage in the 2013 and 2011 editions respectively. Both of who showed their complete support for the spirit and the development of the festival after having experienced it in person for several days.
3. Taking all of these factors into account, Rototom Sunsplash believes that the hostility of the attacks it has suffered this week to be unjustified. With reason, the theme for this year’s 22nd edition, Peace R(evol)ution, is what is inspiring our response to this controversy, without seeking confrontation and all times opting for dialogue and open perspectives. With principles, commitment and coherency that has over these 22 years made Rototom Sunsplash bench mark world wide for the alternative model of festival, which brings with it pride and responsibility that we do not reject: we want to continue being a point for meeting, sharing and intercultural understanding, something that goes beyond ethnicity, religion, borders, physical barriers and ideologies.
4. Rototom Sunsplash, after having repeatedly sought dialogue given the unavailability of the artist for comment, in order to clearly declare himself regarding the war and in particular the right of the Palestinian people to have their own State, has decided to cancel the performance of Matisyahu scheduled for August 22 and will soon announce who will substitute him.