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Hip hop artist says Meow Wolf show canceled over support for Israel



SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Hip hop fans were disappointed in Santa Fe Wednesday when a sold-out musical performance was canceled two hours before show time. Matisyahu was scheduled to perform at Meow Wolf until the company pulled the plug on the show. The hip-hop artist has been vocal about his support of Israel during the war with Palestine.

Local pro-Palestinian groups activist groups are claiming that their pressure on Meow Wolf is the reason for the cancellation.

A representative from Meow Wolf sent this statement:

Yesterday, we canceled a concert at the House of Eternal Return. Two hours before the show was set to begin, we found ourselves without adequate staff to safely manage the sold out crowd. Meow Wolf will always prioritize the safety of our employees and our guests. We are in the process of refunding all ticket holders.

Kati Murphy, Vice President, Public Relations and Communications

Matisyahu released this statement on social media:

To my fans: My fans and I should have played a sold out show at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe last night and we were excited for tonight’s show at the Rialto Theater in Tucson. Instead, the staff at these venues refused to come to work, forcing cancellations. Without our permission or aprroval, the venue in Santa Fe misinformed our fans cancelling the show due to “security concerns,” when the only concern was a group of staff unwilling to work my show.

Tonight in Tucson, we have offered to supplement thier staff shorrtages on our own dime, but to no avail. They do this because they are either anti-Semititc or have confused their empathy for the Palestinian people with hatred for some who holds empathy for both Israelis and Palenstinians.

It is truly a sad day when dialogue with those you disagree with is abandoned for hate mongering and silencing artistic expression. My band and I will keep moving forward always! We will perform songs that celebrate unity, peace, and perseverance, and we will connect with our fans through the sacreddness of shared music which has always brought people together. Unfortunately, it seems that more and more people are choosing to cast their lot with actions that tear people apart.

Tearing down posters of kidnapped children does not bring peace. Chanting genocidal slgoans at Jews does not bring peace. Preventing fans of all ethnic and religious backgorunds from singing together in Santa Fe or Tucson does not bring peace. In fact, it does the opposite. It mamy make some people feel good to express anger publicly in hopes that it will obscure the hypocrisy of us Americans living on actual colonized land taken through an actual genocide of Native Americans. But I refuse to succumb to such destructive behavior which helps nobody and only feuls more anger.

So to my fans in Santa Fe and Tucson, I am sorry you were denied a show. I love you all. My band and I will be back. We will not repsond to hate with more hate. We will be togetyhjer again. We will make musc together again. We will sing together again One Day soon…


Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber released this statement:

“There is a significant difference between protesting against the policies of the Netanyahu government in Gaza and shutting down the performance of a Jewish-American artist in Santa Fe. There’s no excuse for antisemitism, Islamophobia, bigotry, bias, racism, or intolerance, not here, not now, not ever. The war in Israel and Gaza is a humanitarian tragedy, and we should all join in the call for the safe return of all hostages and an end to the killing. We need to see peace in the Middle East.”

Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber

The Jewish Community Relations Coalition-New Mexico sent this letter to Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber:

Dear Mayor Webber and Mr. Tolosa,

We are writing on behalf of the New Mexico Jewish Community Relations Coalition (JCRC), a broad coalition of 25 non-profit religious, educational, advocacy, cultural, and assistance organizations representing the diverse perspectives of the Jewish community in our state, including many in Santa Fe. Collectively the organizations in our coalition represent thousands of Jews in New Mexico. 

Like most New Mexicans, we understand that the arts are the very thread from which our state’s rich, dynamic cultural fabric is woven, and so we were saddened to learn of the decision to forego Matisyahu’s February 14 concert at Meow Wolf due to security concerns. Furthermore, the arts represent one of the most important sectors of New Mexico’s economy, and so it is doubly critical that New Mexico, and Santa Fe in particular, remain a nurturing environment for the arts and a place that enables them to flourish.

Thirty days ago, anti-Israel protestors attempted to shout down Governor Lujan Grisham during the State of the State message to members of the state legislature. They did not stop the work of the legislature. It is unfortunate that some of those same elements were able to shut down the voice of a Jewish musician and deprive the community of his artistry.  

Let us be clear: Matisayu, an American artist, became a target only because of his identity as a Jew with an affinity toward Israel.  This kind of targeting cannot be normalized.

As Jews and as New Mexicans, we believe deeply in freedom of artistic expression, and we applaud Meow Wolf for its seminal role in advancing the arts in Santa Fe and across the Mountain West. We also understand that the conditions that led to the cancellation of last night’s concert were beyond Meow Wolf’s immediate control. However, we fear that this incident nonetheless sets a dangerous precedent that may deprive local audiences of exposure to the important, transformative work of artists from a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. We are also concerned that the performance’s cancellation may implicitly discourage other artists from seeking to bring their talents to our community, which may now be inaccurately characterized as one that welcomes them only selectively.

Santa Fe, its businesses and civic leaders must remain fully committed to free artistic expression without regard for any artist’s cultural, religious, or national affiliation. The city’s character, culture, and economy depend on it remaining a place where the arts thrive unabated, and where the right to artistic freedom is secure. To limit artistic expression is to threaten the very economic and cultural foundation on which the city stands, and so our leaders must take every measure to protect artistic freedom.

The JCRC would be pleased to work with you in any way necessary to guard against further attacks on free artistic expression, and we would welcome a dialog to learn how to do so most effectively. Meanwhile, Matisyahu has taken to social media to express his intent to return to Santa Fe to perform, and we certainly encourage Meow Wolf to provide a venue through which to expose the community to his artistic talents.

Jane Wishner, Co-Chair and Zachcary Benjamin, Steering Committee
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