Matisyahu is the American Jewish musician who was banned by the Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival under pressure and threats from the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Leading American BDS activists support the ban.

The ban created a strong reaction from the Spanish press and government, which called the ban blatant and illegal religious discrimination.

The Festival organizers relented, apologized, and reinvited Matisyahu to appear.

Matisyahu’s appearance was greeted with joy by many at the festival, who didn’t like the way BDS politicized Reggae music.

His performance met with rave reviews, particularly his message of Peace (via El Mundo – Google Translate)

But BDS was not interested in peace. It sent out protesters, including many in the crowd waiving Palestinian flags while Matisyahu performed.

Matisyahu on stage Rototom Sunsplash Palestinian Flags

One of Matisyahu’s most famous songs is “Jerusalem.” If you add up all the different versions on YouTube, it has tens of millions of views.

The lyrics are similar to Psalm 137, reflecting the eternal Jewish connection to Zion. The song lyrics are similar to these passages:

1. By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, we also wept when we remembered Zion.
2. On willows in its midst we hung our harps
3. For there our captors asked us for words of song and our tormentors [asked of us] mirth, “Sing for us of the song of Zion.”
4. “How shall we sing the song of the Lord on foreign soil?”
5. If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget [its skill]
6. May my tongue cling to my palate, if I do not remember you, if I do not bring up Jerusalem at the beginning of my joy.

This version has the song lyrics, so you can follow:

Given how it is one of his signature songs, “Jerusalem” is a natural part of any Matisyahu performance.

It would have been politically easier for Matisyahu to leave it out of his Rototom Sunsplash performance in the face of the protests unfolding right in front of him.

But he didn’t. He sang for peace, and for “Jerusalem.”

Here is his performance (video via Sussex Friends of Israel):

(added) Singing that song in the face of BDS hostility obviously meant a lot to him:


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