The Provincial Court in Valencia, Spain, has definitively dismissed a criminal complaint against eight Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activists who had questioned the invitation for Jewish American singer Matisyahu to take part in the Rototom Festival in 2015.
The Court’s decision has been praised by the European Legal Support Centre (ELSC), an NGO based in Amsterdam which defends and empowers the Palestine solidarity movement in Europe through legal means. “This is another milestone victory for the right to freedom of expression for those who defend Palestinian rights in Spain,” said a spokesperson for the Centre.
Matisyahu, real name Matthew Paul Miller, had his invitation withdrawn from the “European Reggae Festival” held in Benicassim, near Barcelona, “because he would not publicly endorse Palestinian statehood.”
The Court acknowledged in its hearing on 11 January that criticism of the Israeli government’s practices against the Palestinians does not constitute incitement to hatred. Objecting to a singer’s participation in a festival which is committed to respect for human rights, when the objections are based on his personal support for the practices of the State of Israel, the Court determined, is not a criminal act. It is, rather, reflective of a legitimate form of activism in support of Palestinian rights.