×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Roger Waters Ignites New War of Words With Political Stance on Israel

Former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters had some very strong words for rock star Jon Bon Jovi before the latter’s Oct. 3 concert in Tel Aviv.

“You stand shoulder to shoulder with the settler who burned the baby,” he wrote in an open letter to the rocker that went viral across U.S. and Israeli media. “The dead can’t remind you of the crimes you’ve ignored.”

His sentiments were not surprising to anyone familiar with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a pro-Palestinian campaign that encourages an embargo of Israel’s economic and cultural exports, levying political and economic pressure on Israel in a bid to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

For years Waters has been one of the industry’s most vocal critics of Israel, and he routinely takes it upon himself to publicly excoriate artists who defy his calls to nix concerts in the Jewish state.

Artists from Rihanna to Justin Timberlake have been targeted by the BDS movement for playing concerts in Tel Aviv, and Scarlett Johansson found herself facing criticism after she signed on as a spokesperson for SodaStream, the Israeli company previously based in the West Bank (it has since relocated).

But the movement has all but failed when it comes to swaying big names to boycott Israel. Madonna and the Kardashian sisters are said to be apartment hunting in Tel Aviv. Kanye West, who made a personal visit with wife Kim Kardashian and daughter North in April, returned on Sept. 30 for a sold-out show. Natalie Portman and Richard Gere both recently wrapped Israel-based film projects, and Israeli TV exports continue to penetrate the U.S. and European market.

However, the movement does appear to be making headway with smaller acts.

Take, for example, the Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival in Benicassim, Spain. When Matisyahu, the Jewish-American musician, took the stage there in August, he was greeted by a sea of Palestinian flags, boos and heckles.

He almost hadn’t made it to the show. Fest organizers, under pressure from a local branch of the BDS movement, had earlier nixed Matisyahu’s performance after he refused to publicly declare support for the creation of a Palestinian state.

The decision immediately set off a firestorm of festival criticism, with detractors declaring the move anti-Semitic, not anti-Israel. No other artist, they pointed out, had been asked their views on a potential state of Palestine, and leaders of the World Jewish Congress wrote Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy directly to condemn the move. The fest eventually reversed its decision, and Matisyahu — who is not an Israeli citizen — performed. But as he sang “Jerusalem,” a huge group of Palestinian supporters waved Palestinian flags and chanted “Out, Out!”

In the days following Matisyahu’s exclusion from the fest, pundits in Israel asserted that the incident publicly confirmed what many pro-Israel activists have long said: The BDS movement has transposed “Jewish” with “Israeli.”

“Let there be no ‘ifs,’ ‘buts’ or ‘maybes,’” says Arsen Ostrovsky, the director of research at the Israeli-Jewish Congress. “After Matisyahu the BDS mask has well and truly been lifted for what it really is, and that’s nothing to do with promoting peace or Palestinian rights, but Jew hatred, plain and simple.”

Matisyahu’s disinvitation from the fest came just a few days after Roy Zafrani, a documentary helmer based in Tel Aviv, learned that his short film “The Other Dreamers” had been rejected from Norway’s Human Rights Human Wrongs film festival simply for being Israeli.

“We support the academic and cultural boycott of Israel,” Ketil Magnussen, founder of Oslo Documentary Cinema, which runs the fest. Magnussen explained that he could show Israeli-based films that focused only on Gaza and the West Bank.Zafrani’s film follows a group of special-needs children in the Jewish state.

In the end, the BDS movement continues to call out artists, but most, like Bon Jovi, who played to a rapturous Tel Aviv crowd, ignore their call.

Meanwhile, Waters’ remarks stilled echoed across the U.S. media landscape.

“Israel has a little tiny country, and it bugs the shit out of Roger Waters,” said radio personality Howard Stern, who is Jewish, as part of a seven-minute blasting of Waters on his show Oct. 6. “Where do you want the Jews to go, Roger? You want them just to go back to the concentration camps? … Jews, go to the dark side of moon and live.”

More Music

  • Billie Eilish

    Billie Eilish Fans to Receive Perks Due to Chicago Venue Change

    Billie Eilish and her music agents at Paradigm are experiencing what most would call a first class problem. The demand to see the 17-year-old singer live has prompted a change of venue for her June 9 show in Chicago — from the 5,000-capacity Aragon Ballroom to the 20,000-plus-seat United Center arena. The last-minute venue change [...]

  • Moby Natalie Portman

    Moby Accuses Natalie Portman of Lying as the Two Spar Over Dating Claims

    In what’s become a he said/she said spat in multiple mediums, Moby, the elder statesman of electronic music, is now accusing actress Natalie Portman of lying and pleading to those on social media for his safety as “physical threats from complete strangers” emerge. To recap: this month, Moby released a new book, “Then It All [...]

  • Ellen DeGeneres Buys Adam Levine’s Beverly

    Adam Levine Cashes in on Sale of Max Mutchnick’s Former Mansion to Ellen DeGeneres

    Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo have sold a baronial Beverly Hills mansion with an illustrious chain of ownership for a reported $45 million to Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. The mainstream radio rock star, who, it was announced Friday, will not to return as a coach on “The Voice,” and the Namibian-born Victoria’s Secret [...]

  • Kanye West Shares a Memory of

    Kanye West Shares a Touching Memory of His Mother in Letterman Interview

    In a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31, the musician’s wife Kim Kardashian West, tweeted a clip of him sharing a touching memory of his mother, Donda, who died in 2007 after a surgical procedure. While his wife looks on smiling, West answers Letterman’s question about [...]

  • Dan the Automator

    Heeding the Call of Olivia Wilde, Dan the Automator Scores 'Booksmart'

    Dan The Automator, aka Daniel Nakamura, knows a thing or two about setting a mood. The Bay Area-based producer has worked on projects such as Gorillaz’s debut album, Handsome Boy Modeling School (with Prince Paul) and multiple projects with rapper Kool Keith. Now, Nakamura has set his sights on film scoring, and will make his [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content