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Furor over Palestine leads Spanish festival to cancel Jewish American singer's concert

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 24:  Recording artist Matisyahu arrives at the 2014 NHL Awards at Encore Las Vegas on June 24, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 24: Recording artist Matisyahu arrives at the 2014 NHL Awards at Encore Las Vegas on June 24, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)  (2014 Getty Images)

Organizers of an international reggae festival in Spain have canceled a concert by the Jewish American singer Matisyahu after he declined to state his position regarding a Palestinian state.

A local branch of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement had campaigned against the concert in the town of Benicassim, accusing Matisyahu of being anti-Palestinian.

Rototom Sunsplash festival organizers said on their Facebook page they canceled the Aug. 22 concert because the singer declined "to declare himself regarding the war and in particular the right of the Palestinian people to have their own state."

The World Jewish Congress on Sunday slammed the cancellation as anti-Semitic and urged Spanish authorities to take action.

Concert organizers declined to give further comment Tuesday, referring only to their statements on Facebook.

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In the statements, the organizers said the festival has always supported the Palestinian people's rights and denied they had cowed to the pro-Palestinian group. They said they regretted Matisyahu wouldn't be playing.

"We did not say no to Matisyahu because he has Hebrew roots or as a Zionist, but we just simply considered inappropriate organizing something that would certainly generate a conflict," one statement said.

On his Facebook page, Matisyahu — whose given name is Matthew Miller — Monday described the decision as "appalling." He said the festival organizers were pressured by the pro-Palestinian group and wanted him "to write a letter, or make a video, stating my positions on Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to pacify the BDS people."

"I support peace and compassion for all people. My music speaks for itself, and I do not insert politics into my music," he wrote and questioned whether other festival artists had faced similar demands.

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