The PJ Tatler

Jewish Reggae Artist Defiant at Festival with Pro-Palestinian Crowd

The Jewish rapper/reggae artist known as Matisyahu demonstrated an unusual degree of courage yesterday when he performed at a Spanish music festival in front of a sea of Palestinian flags and hecklers from the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Previously, Matisyahu had been disinvited to the festival because he refused to take part in a pro-Palestinian video and did not respond to questions about whether he believed in a Palestinian state. But the Spanish foreign minister along with the American and Israeli embassies lobbied the festival organizers and the artist was reinvited.

What happened when he mounted the stage should be made into a Hollywood movie:

Far from boycotting the reggae artist’s gig, the “hate Israel” crowd showed up en masse. And they came bearing flags, immense Palestinian flags, which they waved with gusto from every corner of the 20,000-strong crowd.

As Matisyahu took the mike and looked out to the audience, he was presented with an unmistakably hostile message. It was clear that those who sought to have him banished stood before him in protest. Then the catcalls started, with some chanting, “out, out.” It might easily have been unnerving, disorienting.

But then he began to sing about Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem, if I forget you, fire not gonna come from me tongue. Jerusalem, if I forget you, let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do.”

And then, as he bounced and twirled around the stage, the most defiant lyrics of all: “3, 000 years with no place to be, and they want me to give up my milk and honey.”

“Tonight was difficult but special,” he later posted on Facebook, along with a clip of the performance.

What courage. Not to be intimidated when the concert organizers demanded he pacify the BDSers, and then to return to the festival’s schedule in defiance of the opposition, and chant Jerusalem on stage with such gusto.

What courage.

Reggae is not my cup of tea but to sing this song with hecklers screaming at him and the flag of the enemy waving in his face is a special moment.

The video is of a live performance so I included the lyrics below:

Jerusalem, if I forget you,
fire not gonna come from me tongue.
Jerusalem, if I forget you,
let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do.

In the ancient days, we will return with no delay
Picking up the bounty and the spoils on our way
We’ve been traveling from state to state
And them don’t understand what they say
3,000 years with no place to be
And they want me to give up my milk and honey
Don’t you see, it’s not about the land or the sea
Not the country but the dwelling of his majesty

[chorus]

Rebuild the temple and the crown of glory
Years gone by, about sixty
Burn in the oven in this century
And the gas tried to choke, but it couldn’t choke me
I will not lie down, I will not fall asleep
They come overseas, yes they’re trying to be free
Erase the demons out of our memory
Change your name and your identity
Afraid of the truth and our dark history
Why is everybody always chasing we
Cut off the roots of your family tree
Don’t you know that’s not the way to be

[chorus]

Caught up in these ways, and the worlds gone craze
Don’t you know it’s just a phase
Case of the Simon says
If I forget the truth then my words won’t penetrate
Babylon burning in the place, can’t see through the haze
Chop down all of them dirty ways,
That’s the price that you pay for selling lies to the youth
No way, not ok, oh no way, not ok, hey
Aint no one gonna break my stride
Aint no one gonna pull me down
Oh no, I got to keep on moving
Stay alive

[chorus]

Not all fighters for Israel wear the uniform of the IDF.