Matisyahu in concert. (Barry Brecheisen/Invision for Park City Live/AP Images) (Barry Brecheisen/Invision for Park City Live/AP Images)

For the first time, BDS activists are facing criminal charges in a Spanish court for hate crimes, including throwing bottles at a Jewish entertainer. 

The anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement leaders responsible for the attempted boycott and harassment of popular singer Matisyahu in 2015 in Spain were charged with incitement to hatred and discrimination and will be tried.

The Examining Court Number 19 of Valencia has commenced with criminal procedures following a complaint filed by human rights and counter-anti-Semitism lawyers against nine BDS members. The defendants face jail terms of up to four years.

The saga began in the summer of 2015, and the anti-Semitic incident was widely reported in the world media. The BDS movement had attempted to force the organizers of the Rototom music festival in Benicassim to cancel the invitation extended to Matisyahu.

The reason he was targeted is that he is Jewish, the lawsuit says, explaining that BDS tries to prevent Jews of any nationality from supporting Israel. Matisyahu is not Israeli, but is a vocal supporter of the Jewish state.

When direct pressure on the organizers failed, the BDS leaders arranged a campaign of harassment and intimidation on social networks that demanded Matisyahu’s expulsion from the festival, while insulting and denigrating the artist.

At first, the concert organizers conceded and asked the singer to publicly denounce Israel. It is of significance that Matisyahu was the only performer required to openly declare his political position in order to participate.

The Jewish singer refused to be discriminated against and canceled his performance.

Public opinion, the media and the democratic political parties reacted to the grievance. Responding to the negative feedback, the organizers renewed the invitation to Matisyahu.

He performed under massive security, while facing harassing incidents throughout the concert and an atmosphere of hostility orchestrated by the BDS movement.

According to the artist’s own account in the media, he felt threatened during the concert and even had to dodge bottles hurled at him.

A few months ago, Matisyahu published a new song, titled “Dodging Bullets”, which metaphorically equates the aggressions inflicted upon him by the defendants to the firing of bullets, from which he had to be protected.

BDS’s Anti-Semitism Exposed

“With this deplorable episode, the BDS removed its mask: The goal of that movement is not a two-state solution or the improvement of the Palestinians’ lives. The real goal is to ostracize the Jews and criminalize the defending of the Jewish State and its right to exist,” said David Hatchwell, president of the Jewish Community of Madrid.

“Their objective is denying the Jews their own vibrant and diverse democracy [i.e. the state of Israel]. The BDS movement, as all anti-Semites, aims to condemn the Jews to the role of helpless victims that was sadly reserved to them through history,” Hatchwell added.

“BDS militants are used to getting away with their racist goals and violent methods. No one holds them accountable for actions that, carried out against any other ethnic or religious minority, would be shocking and punishable. A civil society that can resort to the rule of law to protect itself from bullying and cowardly abuses, both in the social networks and the real world, demonstrates its maturity,” he said.

Convinced of the need to end impunity for criminal acts of this nature, the lawyers of the “Legal Committee Against Discrimination,” who mainly engage in combating anti-Semitism, have sued the leaders of the BDS Pais Valencia and BDS Catalunya, whose real identities they managed to discover although they were hidden behind pseudonyms on Twitter. Nine persons are now being prosecuted.

The BDS movement has a long history of confrontations with justice. In the past year, up to 10 different courts from Spain have overruled the anti-Semitic boycott motions approved in Spanish municipalities following BDS initiatives. This is the first time the movement is facing criminal charges.

“We are convinced that this time the violent instigators of these anti-Semitic campaigns will suffer criminal consequences for their actions,” stated Hatchwell.

ACOM, a Spanish non-profit that works to combat BDS, welcomed the criminal procedures against the BDS gang. “The campaign orchestrated in those days in 2015 against the singer, only for being Jewish and for his rejection to be singled out and criminalized, and the violent mob that tied to intimidate him and cancel the concert, exposed the BDS group for what it is: sectarian, extremist and an obstacle to democratic, civic coexistence,” ACOM stated.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

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