Mark your calendars — musical artist Matisyahu will be performing with fellow musician and Ann Arbor native Nadim Azzam at Hill Auditorium on April 4 as part of a concert series intended to promote unity. The concert is being hosted by Michigan Hillel as well as MUSIC Matters, who also holds the University of Michigan’s Annual SpringFest.
Matisyahu, a Jewish-American, and Azzam, a Palestinian-American, are touring together across multiple college campuses, attempting to promote peace and unity and to bridge the many longstanding political, religious and cultural differences between places like Israel and Palestine.
Business junior, Kaitlin Smith, MUSIC Matters communications chair, said Matisyahu got his inspiration for the tour from protesters attending his concerts in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. This movement advocates for the end of public funding from the United States to Israel and aims to boycott institutions that financially support Israel, in protest of Israel’s policies on Palestinian rights.
Matisyahu said in the tour’s announcement the goal of this tour is to demonstrate his solidarity with the Palestinian community and encourage harmony across the entire Middle East.
Smith said Matisyahu envisions the tour creating a sense of community between different groups of students.
“He feels that there’s a lot of misinformation out there, and a lot of people who are fueled by anger, so he’s going around and touring college campuses and inviting various Palestinian rappers to perform with him,” Smith said.
Matisyahu will also be attending a campus luncheon on the day of the concert to discuss coexistence between diverse groups, as well as other topics related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with University students.
Azzam said rather than trying to solve all the problems of the Middle East, the concert series is about finding a fundamental connection between people of different backgrounds.
“In regards to the sociopolitical context of Palestine and Israel, things are much more complex and intense than a campus concert series can address,” he said. “But before we can, as a society, reconcile differences in belief and opinion between Palestinians and Israelis, we have to first find common ground as human beings. And music is one powerful way to do that.”