How can a Rasta support an apartheid state? How can one of the top entertainers in the most anti-oppression genre of music, reggae, support Israel’s oppressive regime? Those were the questions asked repeatedly both in the Rasta and The Reggae Communities. Some even went as far as to call the son of Bob Marley an imitation Rasta.
It is not fair to criticize Ziggy Marley without understanding his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Maybe in Ziggy’s mind, Israel is not oppressive to the Palestinian people. Maybe Israel is not an apartheid state and it is the Palestinian people who are the real aggressors. Maybe this section of Palestine that became Israel after World War II truly belonged to the Europeans now living there. It all depends on what you were taught, what you believe and how you interpret the happenings in this world we live in.
Every man is entitled to his opinion and Ziggy Marley is no different. Does the fact that you are a Rasta or a Reggae artist mean that your opinions must be in agreement with other Rastas and other Reggae artists? No it does not. A Rasta’s goal is to have clean hands and pure heart. So if in Ziggy’s heart, the Europeans living in Israel are not occupiers and they are not running an oppressive regime, then Ziggy has all right to take the stance he has taken.
Surely an artist like Peter Tosh would not have agreed with Ziggy’s stance as evidenced in Peter’s song “Equal Rights and Justice” where he sung: “Palestinians want equal rights and justice.” But like Ziggy, Peter Tosh is also entitled to his opinions and his opinions should be respected. Both men are Rastas, neither is an imitation. Peter Tosh saw Israel the way he saw South Africa, as an oppressive Babylonian system. Ziggy sees Israel as the Israel spoken of in the bible, where her inhabitants are God’s chosen people.
The majority of Americans are in agreement with Ziggy Marley; Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike. Even our beloved former president Barack Obama is in agreement with Ziggy. When Palestinians are fighting for equal right and justice and get blown to pieces, it is not oppression; it is just “the Jewish people exercising their rights to defend themselves”.
When a man’s opinion is formed from the right place, we cannot fault him for said opinion, even if we are in disagreement with said opinion.
“We are entitled to our own opinions and are not obligated to or bound by the opinions of others.” – Marcus Garvey