Response to Legal Insurrection’s Distortions Surrounding Matisyahu

Hard-line right-wing blog Legal Insurrection published a misleading article about my stance on the boycott of musician Matisyahu. I sent the following statement to author William Jacobson, writing “I would appreciate if you could include the following statement, in whole, in your story about me. I would like the opportunity to explain myself.”

Jacobson refused to publish the statement in his deceptive piece about me. Instead, he asked me to publish it in the comments below the article, where most people will not see it.

I have consequently published my response below.

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The nonviolent BDS movement targets institutions, not individuals. BDS opposes individual boycotts, yet Matisyahu’s ties to numerous Israeli institutions exempt him from unaffiliated individual status and satisfy the necessary conditions for what the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) calls “common sense” boycotts (i.e., those “that conscientious citizens around the world may call for in response to what they widely perceive as egregious individual complicity in, responsibility for, or advocacy of violations of international law (such as war crimes or other grave human rights violations), racial violence, or racial slurs”).

A boycott of Matisyahu is justifiable not because of his individual political beliefs, but rather because of his ties to and work for Israeli institutions.

When I first wrote the above statement, I was not aware of the extent to which Matisyahu is tied to the Israeli government. The following constitute just a few examples of such ties:

  • Matisyahu’s music has been used in Israeli state propaganda videos.
  • He has helped raise money for the Israeli army.
  • His lyrics are co-written by a settler in an illegal settlement in occupied territory who works for Honenu, a legal aid organization that, in the words of Israeli publication +972 Magazine “provides legal services to suspected terrorists, violent settlers and gives financial support to their families.”
  • Matisyahu performed at the 2015 Policy Conference of pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC (which invests in Israeli state bonds).

These are just some examples.

If Matisyahu were not tied to the Israeli government in such ways, I would unequivocally oppose a boycott of him.

I removed the above statement from my website because—unlike most people involved in politics—my views actually change based upon evidence, and the evidence indicates that Matisyahu, given his work for Israeli institutions, according to BDS guidelines, can be the subject of a “common sense” boycott.