Why Roger Waters fails to sway prominent musicians into boycotting Israel

Waters functioning as a "bull horn" for spreading untruths and misinformation only fan the flame rather than seek to use the power of music and culture to unite.

October 7, 2015 09:05
3 minute read.
Robbie Williams performs in Park Hayarkon

Robbie Williams performs in Park Hayarkon . (photo credit: DAVID BRINN)


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Roger Waters tried again to sway a prominent musician into boycotting a scheduled performance in Israel. First, he tried to get Bon Jovi to boycott Israel based on his claim of it being an "apartheid" regime. When he realized that the performance would proceed as scheduled, he resorted to listing a litany of wrongs committed by Israel to the Palestinians and claimed that Bon Jovi was complicit.

Let's examine some of his arguments and see why he continues to fail to sway intelligent artists, ranging recently from Dionne Warwick, to Robbie Williams and the Rolling Stones.

First, Waters argues that Israel is an "apartheid" regime. As anyone who has been to Israel knows, Israel does not meet the definition of an "apartheid" country. Arabs have the right to vote, the right to a free press, serve in Israel's government (there are over 14 Arab members in Israel's cabinet), and even sit on Israel's Supreme Court. The justice who convicted former Israeli President Olmert of corruption was an Arab. Just as America grapples with Ferguson and charges of racial discrimination, there may be instances of injustice to Arabs that occur in Israel. However to try to brand Israel as apartheid is simply untrue and libelous.

Second, Waters fails to mention that the founders of the Boycott Israel (BDS) movement do not support Israel's right to self-determination, while only supporting the Palestinians right to self- determination (and statehood). Simply put, the BDS doesn't want to see a Palestinian State living peacefully side by side with Israel, but rather built on the ashes of Israel.

Third, Waters has lost credibility with his outlandish comments, including that Israel has treated the Palestinians "worse than the Nazi's treated the Jews", and that Hamas truly wants peace with Israel while their charter and recent proclamations continue to call for the destruction of Israel. 

Intelligent artists also know that the following is true:

1) You can't hold an entire population responsible for the actions of its government. If that were the case, should we assume that all artists who perform in the US support every action of the US government, whether domestically or internationally? Of course not.

2) Israel is a pro-western style democracy that has a natural love for western culture - and in particular, music. Artists know this and love performing for their fans--not for any government.

3) Intelligent artists know the power that their music has. It has the power to open hearts and minds, build bridges amongs different cultures, and help to unite those from disparate backgrounds.

4) Artists know that conflicts are complex, and that resorting to name calling, brow beating, and frankly distortions and outright lies is not helpful towards finding resolutions.

Recent violent attacks against innocent Israeli's show the power that rhetoric has to incite. 

While Waters (and we) laments the loss of innocent life, his functioning as a "bull horn" for spreading untruths and misinformation only fan the flame rather than seek to use the power of music and culture to unite.

David Renzer, Chairman, Spirit Music Group and Steve Schnur, Worldwide Executive of Music, Electronic Arts are the Co-founders Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), an organization dedicated to promoting the arts as a bridge to peace and to countering the cultural boycott of Israel. CCFP is comprised of people from a cross-section of the cultural world who represent a broad range of opinions on politics and on the best path to resolving the conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis. But we all agree that singling out Israel as a target of cultural boycotts will not further peace.

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