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Matisyahu Played, but BDS Racism Won

We won the battle but are losing the war.

As much as anyone I’m thrilled that Matisyahu performed “Jerusalem” at the Rototom reggae festival this past Saturday night in Spain.image

Organizers had to apologize and re-invite him after they cancelled him.

The cancellation was precipitated, according to the festival director, by radicals from BDS who convinced organizers that Matisyahu must submit a public condemnation of Israel and Zionism in order to perform. It’s cynical nasty stuff. It’s inquisition-esque.

Don’t believe the festival director that he cancelled Matisyahu over fears of a seriously disrupted festival. After he contacted Matisyahu, the director would settle for nothing less than a pro-BDS, anti-Israel video or statement according to my sources. It wasn’t just support of a Palestinian state they wanted. They wanted Matisyahu to disavow Israel.

Matisyahu refused to submit. So they cancelled him in a disgusting and public manner.

But racism wasn’t going to win – at least this time.

The festival director came under huge pressure from the government, music fans in Spain and across the globe, and in the Spanish media. This festival after all received government funding. The cancellation was a major embarrassment to Spain who is trying to invite decedents of Jews expelled by the Inquisition back for citizenship. (What Jew is going back to Spain when inquisitors are still at large?)

Matisyahu is no more in control of the destiny of Israeli-Palestinian relations that you reading this article. He’s a proud American Jew and he was targeted because he’s a Jew.

Did the organizers question the gay-hating reggae singers about their political views?

Did the submit the other artists to political and social litmus tests?

No. Only Matisyahu was singled out because he’s a Jew.

While the Jewish community, fans of Matisyahu, and anti-racism and anti-BDS activists are celebrating this victory, we must realize this was still in the long term a victory for BDS.

European festivals next summer are going to think twice about booking Matisyahu. Not Poland which is hosting him again for multiple shows and has been for several years. (Respect!) But Western European festivals in countries with active anti-Israel movements (I think that’s every country) will consider this incident before signing the most publicly Jewish musician in the world.

I’m not surprised that major Jewish artists haven’t come forward to support Matisyahu. In the world of music the mone

y is in touring and famous Jewish musicians will be concerned to be targeted themselves. Better stay quiet it seems.

This episode in the BDS battle against Israel, amid growing European anti-Jewish racism, will have a lasting and negative impact on Jewish musicians who want to perform there – let alone Israeli musicians who will find getting booked increasingly difficult in Western Europe.

As much as I want that to not be true, as much as I believe that Matisyahu’s inspired performance was a victory for justice, we must face the grey future of uncertainty as racism and anti-Israel fervor spreads on the continent that 70 years ago exterminated most of its Jewish population.


How can we Heal After the Holocaust?

Look at images on Google for the word Holocaust and feel the hole in your soul. It hurts. It’s silencing. The enormity and barbarism of the Holocaust are so unfathomable and have traumatized our entire people. This trauma manifests in so many ways both visible and invisible. Most what the Jewish community now is experiencing communally in Israel and around the world is a response to the Holocaust.

What can we do about it? How can/ Can we heal? What are the responses to the Holocaust? Here are some ideas, but no means exhaustive.

We need more light brought to the world through mitzvoth, more funding schools and shuls to teach our wisdom, values and heritage, more courage for Israel, more Prayers for Israel, more unity and chances for unity, more food for the hungry and shelter for the homeless, more dialogue, more involvement and engagement in societies problems, more prayer, more tzedakah, more Shabbat Tents, more Pico Shuls, more random acts of kindness and more love in our hearts, homes, and communities, more…

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President Carter, on The Daily Show, Links Parisian Massacres With Israeli Arab Conflict

President Jimmy Carter has done amazing work with building shelters for homeless people, and curing diseases in third-world countries. He is a humanitarian, and has helped millions.

Yet, his Carter’s assertion on the Daily Show (see video below) that the Israeli-Arab conflict played “a role” in the massacre of newspaper writers in Paris loudly calls attention to the fact that Carter is completely off-balanced on Islam, terrorism, and the Arab-Israel conflict. Charlie Hebdo was revenge for Mohammed cartoons and much more. But not the Arab Israeli conflict.

The Jewish supermarket massacre, however, was revenge on Jews and certainly connected to the Arab-Israel conflict. But Carter never distinguished between the two. (The Yemen based terrorists who took responsibility for Charlie Hebdo don’t even take responsibility for the massacre of the Jews.)

There has been no doubt since Carter published his book against Israel, Peace not Apartheid, that his legacy will be forever linked with his anti-Israel stance. He not only blames Israel for the conflict, he even blames Israel for things that Israel is not even doing: like apartheid and occupying Gaza.

I will never forget that when President Carter spoke at UC Irvine in May 2007, during my tenure as there as campus Rabbi, he told an arena full of students about Jewish control of congress which prevents peace in the middle east.

In this video below President Carter also reiterates the Israel should withdraw from East Jerusalem – which is saying to the Jews, “hey you don’t really want that Western Wall anyway.”

All President Carter’s work fighting disease in the third world has not rid him of the disease of antisemitism.

(Stewart’s line that these murderers in Paris use religions as a pretext is also simply wrong, but he is a TV show host, and not a world leader.)

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A Family Vacation, A Kidnapped Nation

From the moment that we arrived in Israel on Thursday night the 12th of June, the fate of three teenage boys, kidnapped on their way home, was one everyone’s mind. While the weather is picturesque, and the sky bright blue, the country was gripped by a gnawing pain about the fate of these three boys.

Now as we depart Israel, the tragic news of their murder has been announced.

Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Frenkel, 16, and Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, went missing near Hebron on June 12 and were all yeshiva students. Beloved by their families and their classmates, they were on their way home for Shabbat, but never made it. Instead, they were abducted by Palestinians in a van as they hitchhiked home. One managed to get a cell phone call to the Police, but the police thought initially it was a prank call.

News spread Friday morning the 13th of what happened. Then the nation prayed.

From the most secular to the most observant, Israelis prayed for the last 18 days for the return of “our boys.” At synagogues across the country, prayers for their return were said three times daily. Massive prayer rallies were held bringing together people from all walks of life. The country was glued to the TV waiting for any updates, reports, or information. Signs went up on bus shelters and public buses. Every day the story was front-page news.

This painful and tragic event brought a palpable sense of unity to a country that has many divides. Today the country is united in anger and sorrow, and wants revenge against the cold-blooded murderers.

We had to postpone our visit to Hebron for that Sunday. I wanted our trip to begin with a visit to the resting place of our ancestors, where the whole story of the Jewish people began. It was to be our first stop on our first family trip to Israel, and already we had to change our itinerary for security reasons.

After some time, even with the continuing search operation nearby, Hebron opened up again and we planned a visit for our last day in Israel. We would return with my close friend who now organizes weekly peace and reconciliation tours to Hebron. Twenty years ago, as college students, he and I had visited Hebron together for the first time.

My family spent most of Monday in Hebron, visiting the 2000 year-old structure built around the most ancient Jewish holy site, the Maarat Ha Machpela, or Tomb of the Patriarchs. My kids sat quietly as our friend explained the history of this Holy site and the caves which are below.

Soldiers seemed on edge, but it did not about seem like the city was about to explode in violence.

Hours after we left Hebron, the city was in turmoil, as clashes broke out when the IDF went one more time to the houses of the suspects. Hundreds hurled rocks and stones at the soldiers who responded with tear gas. Soon the entire city was on lockdown and all entrances to the city blocked.

My children have been concerned about the fate of these three boys for the entire trip. They felt that it could also happen to them. While we reassured them that was not the case, we knew in our hearts that this story was not going to end well as the days turned to weeks.

When I tell my children today about the tragic fate of these teenagers, I am not sure how they will respond. This horrible turn of events will certainly color their view of all Palestinians and Arabs. They may distrust all Arabs for the foreseeable future and their anger and sorrow may quickly turn to hate.

The international press can continue to call these boys settlers, but to my kids, they were fellow Jewish kids. And now they are dead because they were Jewish.

And we leave back for California this afternoon.

Here is what I will tell my kids:

“I am sorry kids. I didn’t want this to be the take-away lesson from your trip to Israel. I didn’t want this to be how you remembered what it is to be a Jew living in your homeland. I didn’t was this to be how the story ended. “

“Please remember all the love that we have experienced here from our friends and family. Please remember all our wonderful experiences as we drove 1,500 kilometers around this small country. Please remember that Jewish life thrives in Israel, and not a place where bad things are always happening to innocent people.”

“This is your homeland. And though we live very far away, it should always be in your hearts and minds as a wonderful place full of life, beauty, and wonderment.”