UPDATE: UNESCO Acts Immediately on Wiesenthal Centre Protest against Spanish Reggae Festival Exclusion of Jewish Singer

SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTRE-EUROPE
Tel: +33(0)1 47 23 76 37
Fax: +33(0)1 47 20 84 01
Mail: csweurope@gmail.com

Paris, 20 August 2015

Director-General, Irina Bokova, responded to Dr. Samuels: “... in the fight against discrimination, hatred and racism of all forms, including antisemitism […] UNESCO and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre has moved forward together, joining forces...” “On this basis, the UNESCO Secretariat has written to the authorities in Spain for them to look into the case and to ensure the dissociation of UNESCO from this Festival, including through the use of the Organization's logo.”

Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed satisfaction that “its appeal to UNESCO, and the consequent countermeasures, inspired the Spanish authorities and the Festival organizers to apologize and reinstate Matisyahu to the original programme, proving that BDS can be beaten.”

See below the Centre's call to UNESCO:
 

SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTRE-EUROPE

Tel: +33(0)1 47 23 76 37

Fax: +33(0)1 47 20 84 01

Mail: csweurope@gmail.com

 

“Rototom's website proudly celebrates its recognition by UNESCO for its role in 'promoting the culture of peace'. In fact it has fomented a culture of conflict and hate.”

 

Paris, 19 August 2015

 

In a letter to UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, noted that “a popular American-Jewish reggae singer, Matisyahu, has just been expelled from the annual 'Rototom Sun Splash' music festival, being held 15 until 22 August in Benicassim, Valencia, Spain. The Festival's Director, Filippo Giunta, ordered that the singer sign a pro-Palestinian declaration or be banned from the programme.”

The letter continued, “Matisyahu is an American-Jew by birth,citizenship and residence and not associated with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In response, he declared support for 'peace and compassion for all people', as evoked in his songs, and refused 'to insert politics into his music'.”

The Centre emphasized: “yet he was still ejected, unambiguously as a Jew – a direct act of naked antisemitism,” continuing, “the 'Rototom' website proudly celebrates its recognition by UNESCO for its role in promoting 'the culture of peace and non-violence'

<http://www.rototomsunsplash.com/en/info/quienes-somos/a-culture-of-peace/>. By its action, Rototom has fomented a culture of conflict and hate, thereby tarnishing its UNESCO status.”

The Centre urged the Director-General “to condemn Rototom's antisemitism and strip it of the UNESCO designation.”

“We are similarly appealing to Rototom Sun Splash sponsors to withdraw their funding and, especially, the provincial authority hosts to end economically strapped Spanish taxpayers' support for racism and hate,” concluded Samuels.

For further information, please contact Shimon Samuels at +33 609 7701 58.

 

Dr. Shimon Samuels

Director for International Relations

Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Paris

 

Response from UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova:

Dear Dr. Samuels,

I wish to thank you for your letter of 19 August, 2015, where you highlight your concerns regarding reports of the cancellation of the performance by the musician Matisyahu, because of his refusal to issue a statement in favour of the Palestinian state.

Let me take this opportunity to express my deep concern with this, which I believe goes against freedom of expression and freedom of thought, and counters the very spirit of music and art as bridges of respect and understanding between people and as platforms for dialogue on the basis of equality and respect. These goals are those that guide all of UNESCO’s action across the world, most especially in the fight against discrimination, hatred and racism of all forms, including anti-Semitism – a fight where. As you know, UNESCO and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre has moved forward together, joining forces. The same objectives underpin UNESCO’s leadership in coordinating the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence.

In this framework, UNESCO has been working with Governments and civil society organisations across the world, to strengthen the foundations for a culture of peace through dialogue and exchange, including through art and music, as powerful forces to remind women and men of the single humanity to which they belong, brought together by human rights and equal dignity.

On this basis, the UNESCO Secretariat has written to the authorities in Spain for them to look into this case and to ensure the dissociation of UNESCO from this Festival, including through the use of the Organisation’s logo. Today, more than ever, I believe we cannot accept blatant violations of the spirit and values that have underpinned UNESCO for seventy years, which we must do everything to defend and take forward in these turbulent times.

Thanking you again for your support, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Irina Bokova