The Sinclair has been one of my favorite music venues in Greater Boston. An intimate space in Harvard Square with deep respect to performers and great sound, I found it to be a local beacon of free artistic expression. As an Israeli Jew, after what happened this week I will never feel safe to enjoy concerts there anymore.

Imagine what would happen if all staff members at a music venue decided not to show up to work just because they dislike the musical genre or the lyrics. The band plays pop, but the staff prefers experimental jazz, so they simply boycott the show. Furthermore, they rally outside the venue, calling others to boycott the show, and vilify the crowd just because it’s not their cup of tea.

As reported by The Harvard Crimson earlier this week, more than 30 Sinclair staff members—including managers, bartenders, security, and box office staffers—boycotted two concerts in support of Israel by Israeli artist Ishay Ribo and gathered outside the venue, chanting anti-Israel slogans for five hours. The event was privately organized by Harvard Chabad to raise money for the “healing and rebuilding of Israel” following the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas terrorists and subsequent ongoing war. Tickets for both shows were sold out.

“Jewish hate and anti-Israel voices are targeting Harvard Chabad and Israeli artist Ishay Ribo…a man who embodies profound love and peace,” Harvard Chabad wrote on social media, adding that “this evening was created to lift the spirits of Israeli and Jewish students suffering from Jewish hate on college campuses.”

As an enthusiastic concert-goer, I used to frequent The Sinclair. This past year alone, I’ve seen at least three shows there, including showstoppers like Patrick Watson, Son Lux, and Jockstrap, dancing and getting emotional in the dark, surrounded by a sweaty crowd of hundreds just like me. This is why I love concerts so much: they unite us people, despite our differences, our backgrounds, our countries of origin.

“Now the gem that The Sinclair is has to be stained with something like this, and it…sucks because it wasn’t in any of our hands,” one Sinclair security guard told The Crimson. And I can’t help but wonder, what if this guard checks my Israeli driver’s license or passport while queueing at my next Sinclair show? Would he and his co-workers think I’m staining the place with my presence as well, simply because I’m not his cup of tea?

We’ve recently seen similarly appalling antisemitic incidents in the U.S., when shows by the Jewish musician Matisyahu were boycotted by concert venue staff in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Tucson, Arizona. Same as with the Ishay Ribo case, the venue employees were deaf to Matisyahu’s lyrics when deciding to boycott him (and all of us Jews and Israelis):

All my life, I’ve been waitin’ for

I’ve been prayin’ for, for the people to say

That we don’t wanna fight no more

There’ll be no more wars, and our children will play.

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