I would like to thank Matisyahu.
In a time when so many are afraid courage is not to be taken for granted.
The bullies shout: “Sit down! Shut up!” and most people obey. They succumb to the pressure. And the pressure can swiftly become overwhelming, it is no wonder that so many give in, give up.
In this atmosphere it is appropriate to thank those that are courageous. Thank you Matisyahu.
Matisyahu did not fight and he certainly did not attack. He simply refused to succumb. In his song “Jerusalem” he sings: “Ain’t no one gonna break my stride. Ain’t no one gonna pull me down.”
The beautiful thing is that in real life, when the test came, he lived these words.
Bullied, asked to denounce Israel, being rejected (having his performance at the Rototom Sunsplash festival cancelled), Matisyahu did the simple and yet so difficult thing – he said “No”.
Self-respect and doing what is right, without fighting, without attacking, just doing what is right – is very powerful. People around the world were moved. I was moved because this is so rare. Because, in a way, what he chose to do was also for me.
Outrage from fans and people who simply do not agree with the concept of singling someone out because of their religion compelled the festival to re-invite Matisyahu. I was wondering what he would choose to do. Would he agree to perform? Would you go someplace where you had already been told that you are not wanted? Singing, performing is a way of giving of yourself, baring your soul. Would you do that for an audience that had already rejected you?
The flags in the crowd are indicators of who was in that audience. It takes a lot of internal strength and graciousness of spirit to perform in front a sea of hostility. Reports say that not only was the audience full of people waving immense Palestinian flags there were also those that began chanting “Out! Out!” Those who sought to have Matisyahu banished stood before him in protest.
And then Matisyahu sang. He did it with a twist, with chutzpah, performing his beautiful music, with words that speak of peace and better times and also of who he is and the importance of the Jewish roots and Jerusalem.
Thank you Matisyahu for speaking (singing) for yourself. And for me. And for everyone who believes that hatred is unacceptable. Too often there is no one to stand for us, no one to give voice to what is right. Thank you for the example you set. I hope more people will take notice and learn from your example.