Another Tack: Roger Waters's jarring music

The lead singer’s assertion that a successive variety of extravagant Israeli sacrifices are all two-faced isn’t his private idiosyncrasy.

Roger Waters 521 (photo credit: Reuters)
Roger Waters 521
(photo credit: Reuters)
Was Binyamin Netanyahu a Pink Floyd freak in his salad days? Possibly not, but that’s no reason not to lend an ear to the band’s erstwhile lead singer Roger Waters.
It’s not that the aging rocker’s opinions should remotely constitute any yardstick for what’s decent and honorable. If anything, they most definitely shouldn’t. Waters has consistently, almost robotically, espoused every wrongheaded doctrinaire leftist cause since his star first twinkled in the frenzied firmament of psychedelic and “progressive” music.
No modicum of even-handedness should be expected from this self-important and predictable propagandist for radical politics which a priori demonize Israel. But it may be useful for us, by way of a reality check, to hear what he says to justify his antagonism toward us.
Expounding to Al Jazeera the other day on why he supports the anti-Israel boycott, Waters claimed that Israelis only “pay lip service to the idea that they want to make peace with the Palestinians, and they sort of talk around the possibility of a two-state solution.”
In other words, Israeli peace overtures, proposals and plans are insincere.
It matters diddly that Waters doesn’t even begin to grasp the rudiments of the actual roots of this dispute (Arab genocidal attacks against the Jews from 1920 all the way to last week’s Itamar massacre) or the complexity of our situation (an Arab Palestinian state already exists on four-fifths of original Palestine, even if it was renamed Jordan).
It doesn’t even matter that he counts the Negev as one of the areas from which Israel allegedly evicts Palestinians to preempt the two-state solution. A quick glance at the map might indicate to Waters that the Negev is inside Israel proper, within what he purports to set aside as a rightful reservation for the Jews of the Mideast – assuming this isn’t only “lip service to the idea” on his part.
In any case, facts are inconsequential minor bothers in his ever-trendy postmodern outlook. Yet Waters’s assertion that a successive variety of extravagant (and eminently foolhardy) Israeli sacrifices are all two-faced and not to be believed isn’t his private idiosyncrasy.
Indeed, this is the prevalent perception not only among Waters’s obsessive ideological clones but across most of respectable polite society in Europe especially.
This has become the axiomatic premise.
Therefore, whatever we offer in our hysterical search for good-guy credentials is likely to be discredited and paradoxically deepen our isolation.
A mini-reprieve could only be attained by our outright capitulation, contrition and self-condemnation of our very struggle to survive. Our suicide might be acknowledged, temporarily at least, as laudable.
SINCE WHOLESALE self-destruction isn’t what Netanyahu could consciously opt for, anything less wouldn’t only be a waste of time but would do actual harm. Consequently the notion of rushing off to Washington to wow Congress with yet another compromise (cooked up by Netanyahu’s flunky, Defense Minister Ehud Barak) is a dud. It cannot but end in a diplomatic debacle, domestic demoralization and a defense flop to boot.
The suggestion that yet another speech calculated to mitigate our plight, via yet another supposedly new peace initiative, cannot even wait till May boggles the mind. It’d be a washout in May too. Declaiming it any earlier won’t make it any less of a fiasco – just as Netanyahu’s June 2009 Bar-Ilan speech generated nothing even marginally beneficial but wrought us lots of damage.
In his then-effort to alleviate excruciating external pressure – especially from the inimical Barack Obama – Netanyahu for the first time proclaimed newfound devotion to the two-state scheme. Exasperatingly, however, his popularity abroad wasn’t thereby enhanced. Quite the contrary, as yesteryear’s Pink Floyd soloist intones, Netanyahu – and with him Israel collectively – remains suspected, portrayed at best as an agent of delay, if not altogether an intransigent holdout. This only intensifies the enticement to crush Israel’s perceived noncompliance.
For 10 months Netanyahu froze all Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and parts of Jerusalem to deny Mahmoud Abbas pretexts for not talking. Yet while all eyes were accusingly fixated on scoundrel Israel, nobody paid attention to how Ramallah figurehead Abbas undermined the very two-state solution concocted to appease him.
Abbas handily managed to scuttle all mediation, while ingeniously succeeding to paint Israel as obstructionist.
Now his insistence on a categorical construction freeze is regarded around the globe as a nonnegotiable prerequisite.
There’s an inescapable dynamic here. Incremental concessions are inevitably rejected by the emboldened Arab side, and hence are judged as insufficient if not meaningless by the international community. The more piecemeal goodwill gestures Israel makes, the more these are devalued and taken for granted.
Each such concession becomes a self-evident right for the Palestinian side and a conceded loss for Israel.
Previous proposals – even if rebuffed at the time – form the new square one from which to demand more of Israel during the next push for renewed “negotiations.”
The upshot is that we aren’t mistrusted because we’re not forthcoming enough, but because we’re too forthcoming.
By default Netanyahu accepts Abbas’s rules of bargaining: no Palestinian budging but “painful concessions” from Israel. Netanyahu has repeatedly pledged his readiness for the latter.
His only caveat is that giving Abbas what he wants must be accompanied by security arrangements geared to keep as many Israelis as possible from being slaughtered by Palestinians (i.e. Itamar) who’ll take control of the hilltops overlooking Israel’s densest population center on the Coastal Plain, where we would all be sitting ducks.
While Netanyahu stresses security, Abbas postures as the determined resistance leader who demands due justice for the downtrodden. Abbas impresses shallow listeners as a liberator aiming to redress profound wrongs. In the topsy-turvy narrative espoused by a voluntarily gullible world, Israel is automatically at fault while its would-be annihilators are desperate insurgents against injustice.
BY NOT challenging Abbas’s pose as the champion of overthrowing oppression, Netanyahu allows him to paint Israelis as oppressors.
Bibi should go back to basics, play hardball and holler from the rooftops that there is justice in the Zionist revival and an inborn tie to Eretz Yisrael, that we aren’t foreign interlopers and vile occupiers in our own homeland, that we were attacked both in 1948 and 1967, that we fought for our very lives and not for the glory of conquest.
Talking about Jewish rights is uncool, which perhaps is why most of us prefer pragmatic security-oriented parlance. Yet worthy and cogent though it may be, exclusive reliance on security concerns implies that we only seek means to further entrench ourselves in usurped property. Such insidious subtexts are underscored when we indicate inclination to cede territory.
This doesn’t really radiate apparent moderation; it weakens Israel’s case.
Whereas aggrieved “native” Abbas fights to regain the “legacy of his forebears,” we carp about the minutiae of border arrangements. We appear like mediocre bureaucrats clinging to as much of our ill-gotten gains as we can. This is Roger Waters’s jarring music. Why should we dance to his tune?