Following the controversy with Matisyahu at the Rototom reggae festival in Spain, other Jewish artists are speaking up about the new type of anti-Semitism they face, influenced by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
One such musician is Rami Matan Even-Esh, who goes by the stage name Kosha Dillz. He is an American rapper born to Israeli parents and currently based in Los Angeles. He made a name for himself precisely for putting his Jewish and Israeli identity at the forefront of his work. And despite the apolitical nature of his music, he said people bring up anti-Israel sentiments as soon as they can.
This phenomenon is called neo-anti-Semtisim, said Even-Esh, " which is anti-Semitism disguised as 'I really don't hate you, I just hate everything [you're about] and where your family is.'"
He often faces people yelling "Free Palestine" or "Allahu Akbar" at shows, as well as receiving death threats in the past. On his first tour in Europe, for example, Even-Esh said that as soon as he mentioned he was an Israeli American, one person he met kept mentioning that Israelis are Nazis throughout the conversation, though the man did not say anything directly against Jews.
In November, his website was hacked by Islamic State supporters for three days, becoming what he called an "ISIS shrine" with the slogan "Death to the infidels."
When the local news interviewed Even-Esh about the incident, he said they brushed off the claim that anti-Semitism was the cause for the hack. Some even thought it was a publicity stunt. People refuse to believe that anti-Semitism still happens, he said.
Referring to the Rototom scandal, in which Matisyahu was kicked out of the Spanish festival for refusing to sign an agreement supporting a Palestinian state, Even-Esh said that the entire incident was a disgrace for a supposed peace festival.
He praised Matisyahu for his performance at Rototom
while BDS sympathizers in the crowd waved Palestinian flags, saying it was reminiscent of what happened in Europe in the 1940s with Nazi flags. The festival needs to incorporate all cultures into their idea of peace, he said.
"If you are going to have a festival of peace, there should be an Israeli flag, American flag, Indian flag, a Pakistani, and Iranian [and] Iraqi flags...all these flags," instead of just the Palestinian flag, he said.
The best way to fight anti-Semitism, he said, is to be kind and educate the misinformed. "I don't think it's everyone's fault that there's anti- Semitism. I just think it's the way people are raised and taught," he said.
He gave the example of what he did at a recent show at a festival in Vermont, where a drunk concert-goer interrupted his entire performance with shouts of Asalam Aleikum
, which ironically means "peace be upon you" in Arabic.
After the show, Even-Esh made an effort to find the heckler and introduce himself, telling him about his story, even giving him a CD. This method apparently works wonders because he said it tears down people's misconceptions when they actually meet Jews and Israelis. Otherwise, "all they see [about Israel] is from television."
Talking about his latest song "Span Hebrish," which is performed in Spanish, Hebrew and English, he said he aims for his music to be a unifying force.
"My dream show would be a bunch of people who would never interact with each other, they only have judgements about each other, but they all share this moment of togetherness at the show."