“The disinvitation of Matisyahu makes no political sense”
Benjamin Norton is a leading author who favors the boycott movement (BDS) against Israel.
Norton writes for the anti-Zionist Mondoweiss website, as well as a slew of other places on the topic of how bad Israel is. While I don’t agree with most of what Norton says, he certainly is prolific and an upcoming opinion-leader in that sphere.
So when I saw Norton pen a column severely criticizing the ban on American Jewish musician Matisyahu at the behest of a Spanish branch of the BDS movement, I was, well, surprised. All the more so because leading American BDS activists like Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal were seeking to justify the ban because Matisyahu was too pro-Israel.
Norton wrote at his own website, Cancellation of Matisyahu’s Performance Blatantly Defies BDS [via Google cache] (emphasis added):
Jewish American rapper Matisyahu was disinvited from a music festival in Spain because he refused to express a position on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Organizers of the Rototom Sunsplash European Reggae Festival say they were pressured by members of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement—an international movement that seeks to pressure Israel to abide by international law through peaceful economic means.
The cancellation of Matisyahu’s performance, however, blatantly defies the most basic principles of the BDS movement.
The founders of BDS, which was called for by Palestinian intellectuals and activists, made it absolutely clear years ago: BDS targets institutions, not individuals….
The disinvitation of Matisyahu makes no political sense. The artist has made it clear that he is not a hardline Zionist. And, even if he were, it would not matter, as BDS does not target individuals based upon their political views. Once again, BDS targets institutions, not individuals.
In the end, the cancellation of the Matisyahu performance only serves to further perpetuate the conflation of Zionism, Judaism, and Jewishness—a conflation that is ultimately anti-Semitic.
By cutting ties with a prominent Jewish American musician because he refuses to criticize Israel, activists who claim to be members of the BDS movement are not only contradicting the movement’s most fundamental principles; they are furthermore giving ammunition to those who seek to demonize the peaceful, multiracial, and interreligious BDS movement, an anti-racist movement that seeks equality, liberation, and justice for all.
While I disagree with some of the characterizations — for example, in reality BDS does boycott individuals, and it is not a peaceful movement which seeks justice for all — the overall point was pretty much the point that Zionist supporters of Matisyahu are making: Keep politics out of music, and don’t single out Jews for extra political scrutiny.
Now the post, however, is gone.
That’s a shame. It was a good post.
And it stands in contrast to Norton’s subsequent post at Mondoweiss, which uncritically repeats the party-line by the leader of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti, that cancellation of Matisyahu’s appearance was justified because Matisyahu allegedly is a “bigot” (i.e., he is Zionist and supports Israel):
UPDATE: Benjamin Norton responds and explains his decision to take down his post. See Comment.DONATE
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