WOMAD headliner Ziggy Marley raised $60 million for an IDF now committing genocide

Jan 31, 2024
New York, USA. 24th Nov, 2022. Ziggy Marley rides a float down Central Park West during the 96th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, NY, November 24, 2022. (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA) Image: Sipa USA/Alamy Live News

Renowned reggae artist, Ziggy Marley, the headline artist at WOMADelaide 2024 (World Music Adelaide), is an outspoken supporter of Israel even during its current genocidal operation in Gaza. In 2018, fans worldwide were shocked by his attendance at a star studded benefit for the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). This event raised $60 million for a military that had already received more than $120 billion dollars from the US government since the end of World War II. WOMAD’s values are in stark contrast to the actions of their headline performer.

The Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) has supported the Palestinian initiated Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement since its inception in 2005 including promoting the cultural boycott of artists who whitewash Israel’s crimes by playing in Israel or accepting money from the Israeli government. As Arye Mekel of Israeli’s Ministry of Foreign affairs said the Israeli government needs to show “Israel’s prettier face” to the world through culture. This cynical attempt to use artists to cover up Israel’s crimes has led to our BDS group protesting the presence of many artists in Adelaide including the Batsheva Dance Company, the L.E.V. Dance Company, the Rolling Stones and the Jerusalem Quartet. Renowned reggae artist, Ziggy Marley, is an outspoken supporter of Israel even during its current genocidal operation in Gaza. He is also the headline artist at WOMADelaide 2024 (World Music Adelaide) and will be the focus of an AFOPA campaign asking him to explain the dissonance between the idealism of his music and his public support for a regime brutally suppressing the people of Palestine.

Ziggy Marley has made a successful and lucrative career out of writing and performing songs about freedom, peace and love so fans worldwide were shocked by his attendance at a star studded benefit for the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in 2018. This event raised $60 million for a military that had already in received more than $120 billion dollars from the US government since the end of World War II. The IDF is hardly a charity case.

Ziggy Marley cannot claim ignorance of the IDF’s crimes. They have been well documented since this military was created in 1948. The benefit was in November 2018 in the same year 18,000 peaceful marchers to the border of Gaza protesting the siege of that territory were maimed or killed by IDF snipers. This was reported in the mainstream media so it appears Marley is able, in an obvious example of cognitive dissonance, to sing about freedom while supporting Israel’s imprisonment and denial of freedom to over 2 million Palestinians in Gaza.

There is another important reason our organisation is opposed to the presence of Ziggy Marley at WOMADelaide 2024. In 2019 he was honoured by the Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) as an Ambassador for Peace. Once again these fine words whitewash the true purpose of the Creative Community for Peace and their awards to high profile artists. This organisation was set up in 2011to counter the BDS movement’s activists who, politely and peacefully, ask artists not to play in Israel. When accepting the award Ziggy Marley said “I’ve been going to Israeli since I was a teenager….Israel was a storybook place for us”. We suggest it is time for Marley to see beyond the fictions and propaganda of Israel and look at the realities of life for Palestinian people.

WOMADelaide is a much loved Adelaide event where equality and inclusivity are celebrated. In another example of cognitive dissonance the values of WOMAD are in stark contrast to the actions of their headline performer. We strongly oppose the presence of an artist who has raised money for an army which is enabling the current ethnic cleansing and genocide of Palestinians and is an Ambassador, not for peace, but for the state of Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinians.

The Australian Friends of Palestine Association has written to the Director of WOMADelaide protesting Ziggy Marley’s presence. We have also written to Marley requesting he organises a benefit for the children of Gaza. For example he could focus on providing aid to the children whose limbs were amputated without anaesthetic due to the actions of the IDF. We will be informing the people of Adelaide about the dissonance between Ziggy Marley’s sweet words and his actions and ask them to protest outside the event or, if attending, to turn their back on Marley’s performance.

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