LETTER: Artist supports Israeli military, contributing to conflict

An artist supports Israeli military, contributing to conflictOn Feb. 20, I stood vigil outside the Vashon Center for the Arts while Matisyahu performed. I did this after learning about Matisyahu’s contradictory life. Documentation reveals that Matisyahu, who sings about love, justice and unity, performed at the annual 2007 Friends of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) fund raiser. He performs at American Israel Public Affairs Committee conferences. His music is featured in Israeli propaganda films. Already, a $38 billion U.S. funding package is promised to Israeli military over 10 years.

In 2016, of 105 Palestinians killed by IDF, police and armed civilians, 33 were children while 17 Israeli civilians and three soldiers were killed by Palestinians. Currently, over 300 Palestinian children are held in Israeli prisons, many without charges. My friend Iayd Burant’s 17-year- old son is one. Gaza is essentially an open-air prison bombed regularly by U.S.-made Israeli aircraft. A U.S.-funded human rights crisis exists in Palestine.

Iyad, a Palestinian leader of nonviolent resistance in Bil’in against IDF, the apartheid wall and illegal settlements came to Seattle and Vashon in November 2016 to share his crucial peace work. Iyad introduced me to Rachel Corrie’s mother, Cindy. Rachel was an Evergreen State College student when she was crushed by an IDF bulldozer as she defended a Palestinian home. She died, and the home was destroyed. Rachel was part of the International Solidarity Movement, devoted to nonviolent action cofounded by Palestinian and Israeli activists. Rachel’s parents continue their daughter’s work in Palestine with The Rachel Corrie Foundation. Ending the occupation by Israel is essential. Most Palestinians are nonviolent.

Reggae’s original message of peace, love and justice is lost in the actions Matisyahu takes supporting Israeli military. His apolitical claims don’t pan out. Matisyahu is one of the top white reggae bands that now dominate the genre, edging out Jamaican voices of struggle. His hypocrisy in raising funds for such a powerful military machine is troubling. In these precarious times facing all life, it is critical to be aware who our dollars are supporting. May Vashon host authentic conscious reggae sometime soon.

— Swaneagle Fitzgerald

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