(photo credit: REUTERS)
In an hour-long live video chat on Facebook Saturday night, musician Roger Waters compared the Israeli government to Nazi Germany, said there were no harsher regimes in the world – and then contradicted both himself and facts several times.
Speaking to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement leader Omar Barghouti in a Q&A session, the lead singer of Pink Floyd said there was no point in having dialogue with Israelis and Israeli artists.
“I think that artists who say that they can somehow improve the situation by going and playing in Israel and having conversations with Israeli artists” are wrong, said Waters. “I’ll tell you why I think they’re wrong, and that is because there are many, many Israeli Jews who are part of the BDS movement... and any of those people will say, ‘No, I don’t want to sit around a campfire with you, what I want you to do is not cross the picket line.’” Waters went on to say it was impossible to have a conversation with “a population that have largely been under a state of living in propaganda 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all their lives since they were born.”
Waters never explained why those Israelis whose views he was comfortable listening to had managed to escape the “propaganda,” while all those he refused to hear from did not.
During the session, hundreds of pro-Israel activists flooded the chat and accused Waters of being a hypocrite and an antisemite. During the chat, Waters called for a cultural boycott of Israel and received dozens of responses from Israelis who wrote in that they were, at that exact moment, enjoying the Guns N' Roses concert taking place at the same time in Tel Aviv.
The British rocker has become one of the most prominent voices over the past decade in the movement to boycott Israel. His most recent battle was with Radiohead
, which refused to cancel its show scheduled for this week in Tel Aviv.
Nevertheless, Waters claimed the BDS movement is “hovering around a tipping point,” and that Israel is heading toward being a “pariah state.”
He made no mention, of course, of the artists who have already performed in Israel in the past two months alone, including Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, Tears for Fears and more.
In the video, which had been viewed by more than 50,000 people as of Sunday afternoon, Waters compared Israeli government activities to those of Nazi Germany.
Waters was asked what he would say about those South Africans who claim that describing Israel as apartheid is insulting to their experience.
In his response, the musician called such people “entirely ignorant” and said “it’s hard not to go back to [Joseph] Goebbels,” the Nazi minister of propaganda. “The tactic is to tell the big lie as often as possible over and over and over again.”
When it comes to the United States, Waters said, though he hates US President Donald Trump, he wouldn’t consider a boycott of the US.
“If I didn’t play in the US it would have absolutely no effect on American foreign policy,” he said. “Boycott is a very specific strategy and tactic that you can use as a tool of protest in very certain specific situations... it’s a realistic tactic to affect the government and the people of Israel.”
Waters did not offer any examples of ways in which the tactic has had any tangible results on Israeli foreign policy.
But Americans “have been living in this constant state of hasbara created by AIPAC and the Israeli lobby in the United States – all of them, their whole life,” he added, using the acronym for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Asked by Barghouti what he would say to those who ask why Waters doesn’t speak out about worse regimes in the world, the rocker offered a truly mind-bending answer.
“I’m not sure there are any much harsher regimes around the world, actually, if you look at it,” he said. He then noted that he is “particularly concerned” about Syria. But he did not say that Syria – where more than 400,000 civilians have been killed in the past six years – was a worse human-rights offender than Israel.
Waters also noted that he was “very concerned about Ukraine,” but rushed to add that he did not want to “demonize the Russians.”
He expressed no similar concerns about demonizing the more than eight million citizens of Israel.