Reggae star Ziggy Marley rejects call to boycott Israel

Online pressure to boycott Israel didn’t dissuade reggae star Ziggy Marley from performing in Tel Aviv Tuesday night or on Thursday at the Return to Zion festival at Sacher Park in Jerusalem.

“People say, don’t disgrace your father’s name by going to Israel and all these type of things,” the eldest son of the late musical icon Bob Marley said at a press conference Tuesday at the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv, referring to the negative responses he saw on Facebook and other sites upon publication of his Israel tour dates.

“What I tell them is that, listen, I follow nature, I follow the universe, I follow God. I’m not a part of the segregation that people put on each other … I’m a part of nature and God, and God made the sun shine for everybody.”

This isn’t Marley’s first visit to Israel, both as a performer and visitor. His wife is Israeli and he said his young children speak Hebrew. And there are other ties to the land for Marley, who said his culture of Rastafarianism is rooted in concepts developed in “this region of the world.”

“Rastafarianism has a lot to do with the Old Testament and Solomon and David and Moses, so we have a strong connection from many years back,” he said.

Marley, who recently released his latest album, Wild and Free, said the message he is trying to convey is one of love and spirituality.

But at the press conference he didn’t shy away from questions of a political nature. Marley weighed in on the Knesset’s recent passing of the antiboycott law, which allows civilians to file lawsuits against organizations or people who impose boycotts on Israeli economic, academic or commercial institutions.

“I think the people should have a right to boycott whoever they want to boycott without the government making them into criminals, and try to protect corporations from people,” he said. “They should protect people from corporations.”

A strong advocate of the widespread use of marijuana, Marley also chastized corporations and politicians for criminalizing and demonizing the plant. He said hemp seeds have nutritional and environmental benefits, and can be used in a wide variety of sustainable practices.

But the tour this time around is mostly about music, and Marley said he is still happy to be known as the son of Bob Marley.

“People love me everywhere I go,” Marley said to laughter.

Becoming serious, he said his father is one of his favorite musicians.

“He was just a great artist and that is one of my biggest inspirations.” But he said he doesn’t expect his children to follow in his or his father’s footsteps, adding that he hopes his children do whatever they feel “inside of them.”

Asked whether he or his family practices Judaism at home, Marley replied: “I practice love.”


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