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:
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.