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Open Letter to Roger Waters: Music Is Our Shared Language

One-sided cultural embargos such as those advocated by Mr. Waters are an affront to both Palestinian and Israeli moderates who seek peace.
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Photo Credit: Photo by Guy Assayag /Flash90

Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters has declareed that a boycott of Israel is the “way to go”(“Roger Waters Calls For Boycott Of Israel,” Rolling Stone, March 20,2013). This statement is distressing not only because his numerous accusations leveled against the state are based on falsehoods, but are inflammatory as well. As members of the entertainment industry, we question Mr. Waters’ misinforming his fans in a way that only triggers further hostilities while continuing to dampen hopes for peaceful dialogue in the Middle East.

Mr. Waters blatantly condemns Israel, yet ignores the facts. Israel has never practiced or enforced racial segregation. As the sole democracy in the Middle East, Israel has always encouraged and legally enabled the integration of Arab peoples into all aspects of Israeli life. Arabs have been elected to the Knesset in every election since Israel’s founding and the Israeli Supreme Court guarantees all Arabs equal rights and full protection under the law.

The recently crowned Miss Israel was born in Ethiopia and quoted Martin Luther King in her acceptance speech! “There are many different communities of many different colors in Israel, and it’s important to show that to the world,” said the new Miss Israel.

Also consider that Israel has already elected a female prime minister, LGBT Israeli soldiers have the right to serve openly in the military, and married LGBT couples are ensured full adoption and inheritance rights. In fact, Israel’s official policies are often more advanced than America’s in promoting and supporting freedom of religion, women’s rights and gay rights, none of which exist in their neighboring nations or states.

Mr. Waters also proclaims his outspoken support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a frequently vilified organization that fundamentally questions Israel’s very right to exist. Even political author-activist Norman Finkelstein – a noted advocate of the Palestinian cause – has branded the movement “a hypocritical, dishonest cult” and said in a recent interview that BDS is “not really talking about rights. They want to destroy Israel.”

One-sided cultural embargos such as those advocated by Mr. Waters are an affront to both Palestinian and Israeli moderates who seek peace. We too wish for a resolution to the complicated Palestinian-Israeli situation, and believe that the unique connection between artist and fan is part of the solution. Music can reflect politics, but should never be disingenuous.

Mr. Waters should remember that music is our shared language, one that transcends dialects of hatred. Fans are the same everywhere in the world, and today many of Roger Waters’ fans are severely disappointed that he chose the words he did instead of those spoken on the same day by President Obama: “The United States of America stands with the State of Israel because . . . it makes us both stronger. It makes us both more prosperous. And it makes the world a better place.”

About the Author: Steve Schnur is a co-founder of Creative Community for Peace.


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One Response to “Open Letter to Roger Waters: Music Is Our Shared Language”

  1. No one is denying that Roger Waters is misguided in some (in fact a lot) of his political standings. Let us not forget this is a guy who supports the right of people to hunt foxes with dogs, and has used the fact that Hitler banned fox hunting in Germany to back his beliefs (strike 1, Godwin's Law). I too disagree with his proposed boycott of Israel. If history has shown us anything, it is that working with the oppressed in a state, rather than ignoring the state entirely, is in the best interests of the people (Paul Simon's "Graceland" proved that).

    There's a more important issue than Waters' politics on display here though…and that's the flawed logic of a nation that is responsible for oppressing a lot of people citing its own advances as if they make up for the atrocities that it refuses to fix (and it's Israel, not Palestine, in the position of power).

    So you're more politically advanced than the USA? Prove it. Rally up against the forces that be in your government that persecute the Palestinians. Give back what was stolen from them, or if you'd rather not give it back outright, at least allow them to join you in your country and to live in peace. There's a lot of displaced people suffering and it's your government that has the power to make it stop.

    Let's not talk about one man's flawed politics, let's talk about turning the other cheek.

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One-sided cultural embargos such as those advocated by Mr. Waters are an affront to both Palestinian and Israeli moderates who seek peace.

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