Shalom Life | July 11, 2015

WATCH: Popcaan Tears Down the Roof in Tel Aviv

Jamaican reggae star makes his debut appearance in Israel

By: Daniel Koren

Published: July 11th, 2015 in Culture » Music » News

WATCH: Popcaan Tears Down the Roof in Tel Aviv

Photo: Popcaan in Tel Aviv

Credit: Courtesy


While I am personally of the belief that music and politics shouldn't mix, when it comes to matters of Israel, most people don't seem to abide this notion.

That's why as I entered the Barby nightclub in southern Tel Aviv for Jamaican reggae artist Popcaan's debut performance in Israel, one word kept creeping into my mind: apartheid.

If you're unfamiliar with the word, apartheid means "the state of being apart" (or "apart-hood"), and was a system of racial separation that existed in South Africa. Under apartheid, everyone who wasn't white was segregated against; discrimination was a part of the social structure, ethnic prejudices were encouraged, and people of color were deprived of most (if not all) basic human civil rights.

Recently, there has been a growing movement referring to Israel's policies as 'apartheid', due to the separation walls that exist in the West Bank and Gaza. Here, for an example, is an article in the Guardian written by someone who has lived in both South Africa (under apartheid) and in Israel, explaining that while he disagrees with many of the Israeli government's policies, referring to Israel as an apartheid state is simply "untrue propaganda."

But here, at Barby, is a nightclub in Tel Aviv that opened its doors to all Israelis anticipating Popcaan's performance: Eritreans, Ethiopians, Somalians, Arab Israelis, Jews, Americans, Canadians, Australians, no matter. Here, as Israeli music fans flooded to see one of the most trending artists in the reggae scene, there was no discrimination, no segregation, no walls.

We all danced together.

We all jived together.

We all drank together.

And we all sang along to the vocal stylings of the artist born Andrae Jay Sutherland, reciting the lyrics to songs like "Everything Nice" and "The System," from his debut studio album, Where We Come From.

For someone who normally experiences his music concerts in Toronto, seeing Popcaan as part of his European tour (Tel Aviv is the only city in the Middle East that he's visiting) was reminiscent of seeing shows back home, or in New York, Amsterdam, or any other city where your love for music trumps your political beliefs.

And while this may not be your average 'concert review' - I also do acknowledge that I'm contributing to the 'bringing politics into art' issue - there was no way I could reflect upon this wonderful experience of seeing one of my favorite current artists, without mentioning how much better it was because I was surrounded by people of all denominations and colors, in the democratic State of Israel.

Judging from his Instagram account, it seems that Popcaan appreciated the experience too. Upon his arrival, he posted this photo, giving thanks to witnessing sunrise in the State of Israel.


He also had a blast on the beach in Tel Aviv, as you can see from below:


Of course, if you read the comments, they are riddled with anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric, because, for some reason, referring to a country by its official name is sacrilegious and wrong?

Or maybe some people are just racist.

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