Well, well, well. Roger Waters, formerly of rock band Pink Floyd fame, has learned how absurd it is to demand that speech be shut down, and has come to see the virtue of open-mindedness and tolerance. At least when it comes to his own speech and tolerance for his own brand of intolerance.
Waters was scheduled to speak later this month at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. The 92nd Street Y, formerly known as the Young Men’s Hebrew Association, engaged Waters to appear on April 30. The event was billed as “A Conversation with Roger Waters.”
As a rock star for more than 40 years, Waters is probably the best known of those engaged in the global economic warfare against Israel, known as the BDS (Boycott of, Divestment From and Sanctions against Israel) Movement. A constant refrain of his is to compare Israel to Apartheid South Africa, facts be damned.
Waters is not only a committed supporter of BDS, he bragged about having been instrumental in convincing Stevie Wonder to renege on his agreement to perform at a pro-Israel benefit in California that took place last year. He also spoke at the United Nations on November 29, 2012, condemning Israel as an Apartheid state, and blaming Israel for denying the “Palestinian” people their “inalienable right” to “self-determination.”
In addition to these efforts to convince others that Israel must be shunned for committing “human rights violations,” Waters also was a leader of the effort to get Carnegie Hall to cancel the scheduled appearance by the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in October of 2012.
Just recently he proudly insisted that boycott of the Jewish State was “the way to go.” He did this by asserting that Israel – which has an Arab Supreme Court Justice, Arab members of its parliament, Arabs serving in every profession – is a violent, vicious Apartheid state.
I think that the kind of boycott that was implemented against the apartheid regime in South Africa back in the day is probably the most effective way to go because the situation is that the Israeli government runs an apartheid regime in Israel, the occupied territories and everywhere else it decides. Let us not forget that they laid waste most of Lebanon around the time I started getting involved in this issue. They destroyed airports, hospitals, any public buildings they could.
But once word got out about the many utterly false anti-Israel statements made and actions taken by Waters, a tsunami of pro-Israel support washed over the Y and, eventually – though sheepishly and silently – the Y disengaged from Waters.
Rather than recognizing that there was a strong pushback from their base and that the invitation had been made without understanding the significance of his hatred for Israel, however, the Y slipped out the back door, as it were. What the Y said when inquiries were made, to the extent it said anything at all, was that Waters had a “scheduling conflict” when the event was finally cancelled. This was after a long series of “yes he will, no he won’t, he’ll be there later, Waters? we never heard of him, oops he’s gone, now he’s back, and then, finally, on April 4 : Event Cancelled.”
How do we know that? Because Roger Waters has now issued an official statement about what happened.
Incredibly, as the EoZ site notes, Waters is moaning about how wrong it is to shut him down, because “Not to Talk is Not an Option.”
Really. Roger Waters, the biggest name BDS advocate on the planet wrote that. It’s the title of his entry on his official site: “Not to Talk is Not an Option.” Here is his version of what happened:
I was invited by 92Y to take part in an interview at the Theresa L. Kaufmann Concert Hall on the 30th April this year. I checked out a couple of previous talks on YouTube, and as they appeared to be serious and measured discourse, I accepted the invitation to take part.
Things were complicated when the Opera House in São Paulo, Brazil requested my presence for four full productions of Ça Ira, my opera on the French Revolution, around conflicting dates. In the end, the date for the dress rehearsal of Ça Ira fell on the 30th April, and so, reluctantly and very apologetically, I asked the team at 92Y if my appearance could be re-scheduled. Assistant Director Jennifer Hausler, who had been helping all along, couldn’t have been more understanding, gave me some alternative dates in June and I accepted June the 19th. Everyone was happy. Well, perhaps not quite everyone.
On April 3rd, my publicist in NY received a phone call from Susan Engel, the Director of Lectures at the 92Y, cancelling my re-scheduled engagement without explanation. She did leave a telephone number which we called, but it was only an answering machine with the message that 92Y was closed for Passover. We left messages asking to talk to Susan Engel but have so far received no reply.
I have since been made aware of rumblings on the net suggesting that resistance in the local Jewish community to my coming engagement may have had something to do with its cancellation. If that be the case it saddens me. In these troubled times, opportunities for serious, measured discourse are too precious to be discarded on the altar of sectarian prejudice. Not to talk is not an option.
Waters is saddened that there “might have been some resistance in the local Jewish community” to his appearing at a Jewish institution, which is supported by Jewish dollars from mostly Jewish members, as well as receiving funding to the tune of nearly a million dollars by the NYC Federation -UJA. Some resistance? Richard Allen, the moving force behind JCC Watch, provided the vehicle through which much of that resistance was expressed.
“It’s absolutely outrageous that Jewish community funds are going to help Roger Waters spread his anti-Semitic message,” said Richard Allen. “UJA-Federation gives Jewish donations to the 92nd Street Y, and that money is being used to help provide Waters with a facility, marketing and respectability, so that he can win over more people with his anti-Israel lies.“
And, according to Waters, “not to talk is not an option.” Unless, of course, if you are from Israel.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.