Former Pink Floyd singer Roger Waters has never been one to shy away from controversy, most recently drawing criticism from the Anti-Defamation League for a video segment depicting dollar signs next to the Star of David during his award-winning The Wall Live tour.
In a video interview with Al-Jazeera reporter Riz Khan posted online last week (below), Waters is encouraging fellow artists to join him in a boycott, divestment and sanctions initiative against Israel, calling the policies of the Middle Eastern country “insane.”
President Obama, meanwhile, arrived in Israel today (March 20) with the promise of defending the country from its “neighbors,” i.e. longtime Israeli threat Palestine.
“I’ve just written an op-ed piece… it’s actually me calling on my fellow musicians and artists to join the BDS campaign against Israel,” the British singer said. “They pay lip service to the idea that they want to make peace with the Palestinians.”
Waters goes on to express worry for the Palestinian people, revealing how his father taught in Jerusalem during the 1930s and “was very concerned even then, before the war, before the Holocaust, before all of that, about what was going in Palestine.”
“So any one of us from outside Israel who thinks that Israeli policy is wrong, we’re not anti-Semitic, and we’re not against Israelis,” he added. “In fact, we applaud those many of them whose humanity transcends both their religion and any nationalist fervor that they might regress to.”
After being asked if “being pro-Palestinian carries an anti-Semitic agenda,” Waters compares the current situation in Israel to South Africa under the apartheid system.
“Well, it’s nonsense,” Waters replied. “It’s been pro-freedom, and pro-human rights. We’re talking about basic, fundamental human rights. So if you’re against an Israeli policy that has a two-tier system… it’s interesting that that comes from South Africa, like they used to have in South Africa, you know, before the fall of the old regime, the apartheid regime. I’m against Israel for exactly the same reasons I was against South Africa… they have passbooks, they have to carry identity cards that say whether they’re a Jew or an Arab. It’s insane.”
Rogers also addressed the Anti-Defamation League controversy about the aforementioned video segment from The Wall Live, referring to what he calls “an elegant letter” he wrote on his Facebook page in response.
“It never even occurred to me: I’m making the point that we are bombarded by ideas religious, ideological and commercial, and that causes us pain, and it causes death and suffering,” Waters said. “I’m very even-handed about it.”