Last week has been busy for both the BDS movement as well as all Jewish Zionistic organisations. There has been enough coverage on the issue so just in a nutshell, to set the background, the Jewish-American reggae singer was singled out to endorse the right of the Palestinian Arabs to their own state. Let me say that again. The only Jewish artist performing at the festival in Spain was forced to state his political stance in a controversial political argument. Failing, rightfully, to do so he was banned from the concert for no other reason, rather than the man happens to be a Jew and BDS wanted him to support a political solution that in the current situation would compromise Israeli domestic and international security. Following the international outrage that stretched far beyond the worldwide Jewish community, the general public aware of the issue had little choice but to recognise that the attack was far from being simply political; rather it was purely anti-Semitic in a “good” old-school style.
This time however we do have a reason to thank BDS. Quite frankly their hatred for Jews and Israel has made them trip over their own long-term strategy and we didn’t have to do anything to particularly help them humiliate themselves. They clearly didn’t evaluate the effect of this ban too much, but went for the kill, blatantly catching an opportunity to publically disgrace Matisyahu and present how much influence their “cause” had. This particular instance exposed them for who they really are; not pro-Palestine campaigners, but a bunch of anti-Semites creating havoc wherever they can. This time they were caught with their trousers down while they were busy throwing stones under Matisyahu’s feet.
I mentioned that we should thank BDS for their most recent action. I am really truly grateful for what they did. Why? Because they see us the way we often fail to see ourselves. Let me explain starting with Matisyahu and then I will zoom out. He began his career as a Hassidic reggae artist with the full Hassidic look including both his wife and children. The Jewish religious and non-religious world couldn’t be prouder. Then increasingly over time he became noticeably less and less religious at least in terms of his dress code. The majority of comments on his Facebook page were from disillusioned religious fans who couldn’t simply cope with the fact that he shaved off his beard. Soon he went through a divorce and obviously his life became slightly more troubled. Fans changed as the new image of Matisyahu emerged. Some people clearly didn’t know what to do with him and they very much regretted the change. What, however, seems to be important to us, isn’t important to BDS. I doubt they would treat him differently if he was still Hassidic or even completely secular. Sadly we cannot live in parallel realities to follow this hypothesis, but I strongly believe that it absolutely has nothing to do with how he looked or how religious he was. The fact remains; he is simply Jewish and that simple reality acted like salt on wounds for BDS campaigners to the point where they became so blinded with their hatred that they overlooked the effect their pressure on the festival organisers would have on their own image – the selfless campaigners for the oppressed.
Refocusing at the spectrum we are observing, what BDS sees is simply a bunch of Jews that happen to both live and travel to and from Israel, and they want to deal with the problem. They don’t see who is religious or not. Who is Ashkhenazi or Mizrahi; blond, brunet or a red head. The skin colour also doesn’t matter to them. What matters is that a Jew is a Jew and they have a Jew-problem with Jews. Jewishly speaking. Let’s try and see ourselves with their eyes, then move in front of the camera and remember why we are fighting between ourselves in the first place; why we are so obsessed with creating labels and divisions. We create circles of friends based on how people are and where they are coming from, their religious observance or lack thereof. If the enemy sees us as one, shouldn’t we? That’s what I saw when I watched Matisyahu on the state, singing Jerusalem, looking at the Palestinian flags and banners waving at him in an obvious attempt to deny the defeat. As they were not giving up on their attempt to make the concert as unbearable for him as possible, we got the message.
Three thousand years with no place to be
And they want me to give up my milk and honey
Don’t you see its not about the land or the sea
Not the country but the dwelling of his majesty (…)
I will not lie down, I will not fall asleep and they come overseas, yes they’re trying to be free
Erase the demons out of our memory
Change your name and your identity (…)
Chop down all of them dirty ways
That’s the price that you pay for selling lies to the youth
No way, not okay, oh no way, not okay, hey
Ain’t no one gonna break my stride, ain’t no one gonna pull me down
Oh no, I got to keep on moving, stay alive (…)
We are no longer wanderers in foreign lands. We are no longer subjected to extermination and we are no longer helpless in defending our loved ones; despite what the world thinks and despite what is printed in the papers daily.
I know one person who has gone through a lot in her life. Probably more than anyone else I know. Every time someone stabbed her in the back, she used the stab to achieve more and not only overcame the difficulties, but came out flourishing. Most importantly, she never avoided the people that did what they could to destroy her. She would be the first to approach them on the street or in the shop cheerfully asking them how their lives were, whether work was fine, their families healthy and anything that came to her mind. As she talked, every time without fail, she observed the amazing phenomenon of faces acquiring all different colours of the rainbow and saw them shaking in both anger and hatred. Then, as a rule, she wished them all the best, turned on her heel and walked off. That someone is my mum.
How about we turn to BDS and ask them how their day has been? How is health? And, most importantly, did they enjoy the concert, because we did. Very, very much. We loved the flags; they gave a new and deeper meaning to the song based on the words that are found in our writings for thousands of years. Very nice indeed. Should we do it again, BDS?