I think his hatred of Israel has literally driven Roger Waters insane – and it’s not a pretty sight. There I was on Independence Day on May 9, peacefully binge-watching Israeli comedies on television and relaxing after the barrage of nearly 700 rockets that had been launched from Gaza on the South of the country at the beginning of the week when I made the mistake of checking Facebook to see what everyone else was doing. Amid the photos of friends at barbecues, the beach and hiking through gorgeous nature reserves, I came across a post by the British group Sussex Friends of Israel sharing a video by Waters. Bitter Waters.
Bizarrely wearing a bath robe, with unbrushed hair and red-rimmed eyes, Waters began to spew his by now well-known BDS creed, expressing support for a Swiss petition to pull out of the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv.
Nobody should post a video on social media before they are fully awake and dressed. Even former superstars like the Pink Floyd singer. And they certainly shouldn’t do it if they’re going to liken Israelis to aliens – the extra-terrestrial kind, not the more familiar Jews as colonialists trope.
Waters starts out by saying he’d heard about the Swiss petition from his good friend Omar Barghouti. Barghouti is the leader of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. Interestingly enough, his commitment to boycotting the country was not strong enough to keep him from studying at Tel Aviv University and even applying to do a doctorate there. Barghouti still has a lot to learn.
He reminds me of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaders who object to normalization but are happy to use Israel’s top medical facilities. The PA’s Jibril Rajoub, for example, is a (former?) terrorist and chairman of the Palestinian Football Association and of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, among other positions, who was suspended by the international football association FIFA last year following his call to burn Lionel Messi shirts to protest a (later canceled) friendly game between Argentina and Israel. He is currently reported to be receiving treatment at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. I repeat my call to end medical tourism for terrorists. This is not a gesture of humanity but insanity. Which brings me back to Waters and his video.
Scratching his face and staring at the camera, Waters declares that Barghouti’s email reminded him of “three choice ‘Fs,’” the first being “Film.” “There’s the film, and that film was the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Eurovision reminds me of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, because it seems it may have been taken over by, um, I believe it was aliens. I know, it’s giving aliens a bad name, but at the end of the movie, Donald Sutherland points at somebody like this” – Here, Waters points at the camera while making a silent scream face – “The body-snatchers are doing that now, but normally what they’re going is, ‘antisemite!’” Waters yells.
Waters’s “second F” is “Fable,” and he proceeds to parody The Emperor’s New Clothes. “’Mommy, mommy, why is the emperor of Israel parading his ethno-supremacist bullshit around naked?’ Enough with Netanyahu-hu-hu.”
The “third and final F” is “Faith.” As he taps his exposed chest, Waters declares Barghouti’s message restores “faith in my fellow human beings, faith in their capacity for love and empathy,” because “136,000 of our Swiss brothers and sisters have signed and delivered a petition demanding that the Eurovision pull out of the finals in Tel Aviv.”
The ugly face of BDS was personified. As my brother put it, it looked like Waters had gone over to the Dark Side of the Moon. To use the lyrics of one of his songs, Waters thinks he “can tell heaven from hell, blue skies from pain.” But he can’t. He is clueless.
Last year, backing conspiracists who claimed that reports of Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons attack on Douma in Syria were staged, Waters called the White Helmets – the Syrian volunteer group nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for its search-and-rescue work – a “fake organization” producing propaganda for “jihadists and terrorists.”
Calling for the boycott of the Eurovision does nothing to promote world peace or even regional peace. On the contrary. We don’t need no Roger Waters. Israel’s a free country and bashing the prime minister and government – even before the new coalition has been formed following last month’s elections – is something of a national sport. Especially after massive rocket bombardments and increased threats of terrorism.
PINK FLOYD released its seminal album The Wall in 1979. Of greater importance historically, it was the year Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the shah in Iran. And of personal significance, I moved to Israel, singing along to Gali Atari and Milk & Honey’s Eurovision-winning “Hallelujah.”
A few years ago, when Waters issued a similar call for a cultural boycott, Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli, proving she’s not just a pretty face, demanded Waters remove a photograph of her used in the video art during his performances. “If you’re boycotting – then go all the way,” she tweeted at the time.
With poetic justice, while Waters rants about boycotts, Refaeli is one of the four hosts of the Eurovision at Expo Tel Aviv. Waters was bashing his head against a brick wall. More than 40 countries are participating in this year’s Eurovision, thousands of tourists arrived for the event, some 1,500 journalists flocked here to cover the show and surrounding events and an estimated 200 million viewers around the world are watching the broadcasts.
(Like many Israelis, I have mixed feelings. I’m proud that the world’s biggest song competition is taking place here; as a Jerusalemite, I’m relieved it’s taking place in Tel Aviv and not the capital. It’s far better suited to the free-and-easy life in the White City along the Mediterranean than the Holy City’s spiritual vibe. And I am praying that it all goes smoothly. The first semi-final, which I watched on Tuesday, was deservingly praised for its stage effects – if not the music.)
If Madonna’s performance doesn’t go ahead as planned on Saturday night it will be because of contractual problems with the European Broadcasting Union and not because she has answered Waters’s pleas to stay away.
The BDS campaign singles out Israel for delegitimization. Were Spain, France, Cyprus or any other European country with a simmering territorial dispute to win the Eurovision, there would not be an organized global campaign to prevent it becoming the host the following year. By pushing exclusively for the boycott of Israel, Waters is strengthening terrorism and backing those who want the Jewish state to disappear. Those who truly value coexistence, democracy and freedom, visit and make peace and music.
Admittedly, peace with the Palestinians seems far, far away, but demonizing one side of the conflict while the other gets away with murder doesn’t bring it any closer. I was encouraged by the kosher Iftar meal shared by Jews and Palestinians in Hebron, as The Jerusalem Post’s Tovah Lazaroff reported on this week. The event was organized and sponsored by the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a joint Israeli-Palestinian group that aims to strengthen economic ties between Palestinians and Jews, to benefit all.
Watching Waters’s video, I thought of another “F” word: “Falsehood.” The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement presents itself as pro-peace and pro-Palestinian rather than anti-Israeli in nature. It also promotes a false analogy with South Africa in the apartheid era. This insults the memory of what black South Africans endured; defames Israel, where Arab citizens not only have the vote but can be elected to parliament and serve as judges; and feeds the lie that the Jewish people have no religious or historical connection to the Land of Israel.
Brick by brick, falsehood by falsehood, Waters is trying to build an invisible but dangerous wall between Israelis and the Palestinians. Not one built to keep terrorists out; a wall constructed to block normal, peaceful relations.
The much-troubled Waters is a fallen star. No wonder he’s worried about aliens.