Kosha Dillz Op-Ed: My Experience With Anti-Semitism Around the World

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Kosha Dillz performs onstage at Seaside Park on June 21, 2015 in Ventura, California.

The entire globe watched the Internet lose its head this past week with Matisyahu and a Rototom Reggae Festival being conquered by BDS (boycott divestment, and sanctions), unconquered, and freed all in a matter of 72 hours. Personally, I noticed a huge amount of slack and opinion being dished on similar topics in my news feed. All of a sudden, Facebook friends from all creeds became experts in Middle Eastern politics, defining the difference between Zionism and Judaism, Israel, Palestine, and all of its legal boundaries. 

You can say the “anti-Semitism thing” has hit pretty close to home, being that my family would be significantly larger, but because we are Jews, we were killed. I call it a thing, since people don’t really think still is a thing. The majority of my family on my father’s side as well as my grandfather’s entire family were killed in the concentration camps merely 70 years ago. Two-thirds of European Jewry were killed and one-third of the entire world.

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About me: my entire family is from Israel and migrated to NY in 1976. Ever since I can remember I loved being a Jew, having a family house in Qiryat Tivon, and having pride in who I am and where I was from. I rap in Hebrew (my 1st language) and Spanish (3rd language) to unite different worlds, freestyle about user-friendly topics, and find my greatest joy in uniting people who would never come meet outside of the KD world.

It is quite difficult to avoid the stereotypes, since my rap moniker is Kosha Dillz, a pickle reference, and my real name, Rami Matan Even-Esh, is as Hebrew as they come. The singling out of Matisyahu inspired me to share a list of my own experiences with anti-Semitism, from Internet trolling to my real life shows. 

1. My first European tour, I was staying at a DJ’s house in the U.K. Once he found out that my family was from Israel, he began to go on about how the Zionists ruin this world and IDF are like Nazis. He also had people surround me at one occasion and interrogate me, as well as message me online saying he had to prevent me from being killed.

2. I went on a date with a girl in Amsterdam and for fear of incidents with Jews being beaten in France, she asked to hide my Jewish star, because she was afraid of being attacked.

3. I performed a song in Hebrew on tour to SXSW, and I was heckled from the crowd with “free Palestine.” I just heard "free Palestine" all show. All I did was sing a song in Hebrew and Spanish. I never spoke on anything political, yet I was completely heckled throughout the show. 

4. I was at a venue watching a rapper perform in the Midwest and they “jokingly” did a Hitler salute. People laughed, yet I was stuck wondering how the hell someone could jokingly do that.

5. I came back from a restaurant on tour and one of our friends was passed out with a Swastika on his face. I didn't say anything, as people swore it off as a drunk prank. Someone recently carved a Swastika on a lawn in Lakewood, NJ, and received 15 months jail sentence. Reminder that if you are drunk, you don’t get a pass.

6. My website was hacked last November and my site became a shrine for ISIS and "death to Israel and infidels" flashed arose my screen. News sites questioned me to see if I did it as a publicity stunt. Also other Jews were confused as to why it would happen.

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7. "Your name is too Jewish." "You should change your name, to something less kosher. "Enough with the Hebrew and Israel stuff. It is probably not a good look." "I would tour with you, but the Jewish Israel thing is too much." These are multiple responses I have gotten from people who are Jews and non-Jews in the music business.

On Aug. 30, I fly to Berlin and take a six-hour train to Warsaw, where I will catch the last Matisyahu show of his European Tour in Grzybowski Square. After that, I will spend a week with my mother visiting the infamous Auschwitz concentration camps, where many of my relatives died. It saddens me that a festival meant to promote peace in Rototom only had one kind of flag waived in protest of an artist appearance, and was only open to hear one point of view from Matisyahu, an American from White Planes, about his political stance. If we continue to praise music festivals that promote peace and tolerance, there should be a multitude of flags waiving next to each other and not just one. As Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston sang, “It takes two baby, to make a dream come true.”

Kosha Dillz is an alternative hip-hop artist fresh off 41 dates on Vans Warped Tour. Based in L.A. by way of NJ and Qiryat Tivon, Israel, he combines songs in Spanish and Hebrew to bridge gaps and unite cultures. His new album What I Do All Day and Pickle comes out this November. www.koshadillzworld.com