Roger Waters, scam artist

 

Roger Waters

Every time we turn around, Roger Waters, the outspoken musician and sometime member of the band Pink Floyd, keeps proving to be worse than we thought he was. On this site, we’ve written at length about his self-righteous efforts to shame other performers into canceling gigs in Israel. In an open letter to Bon Jovi, for instance, he accused the fellow rocker of standing shoulder to shoulder with baby-burners and child killers and, hence, of committing “the greatest crime of all.” In another piece, Waters accused singer Robbie Williams of “showing a chilling indifference” to the welfare of Palestinian children, who, he claimed, are viewed by Israel as nothing more than “grass to be mowed.” In yet another missive, he told chanteuse Dionne Warwick that she was ignorant of Israeli history.

Robbie Williams

Waters has gotten some pushback. In a piece for the Times of Israel, filmmaker Mark Blacknell asked why, if Waters is so concerned about the Palestinians, he doesn’t criticize Arab governments for failing to welcome Palestinians into their countries. He further noted a poll in which seventy percent of Israeli Arabs said they’d rather remain Israelis than become citizens of a fully independent Palestine. Blacknell, who had made a documentary about the Israeli-Palestinian situation, pointed out that while Israelis consistently said they didn’t Arabs, Palestinians made it clear that they despised Israelis. If only the terrorist groups in the Levant dropped their plans to push the Jews into the sea, noted Blacknell, the problem of peace in the Holy Land would be solved. “What is presented to you as innocent victims struggling for freedom,” Blacknell told Waters, “is in reality uncompromising cultural intolerance at a level so antiquated that is difficult for many westerners to comprehend.”

“In Waters’ world,” commented Israeli writer Lilac Sigan, “there is no Hamas, and this terror organization doesn’t live by its sword, doesn’t swear to death and violence, and doesn’t rule the Gaza strip with primitive Shariya law.” As we’ve pointed out, this wasn’t exactly true: Waters knows all about Hamas – and proudly stood up for them in a 2012 U.N. speech. His Jew-hatred is real. He’s a chilling, reprehensible piece of work.

Steven Donziger

And here’s a new wrinkle. During the last few years the media have covered the multiparty effort, fronted by a New York attorney, Steven Donziger, to extort billions of dollars from Chevron. This flimflam, in which several people invested substantial sums in hopes of making millions, has come to be known as the “Chevron Shakedown.” The case is now closed; Donziger has been disbarred. But during the investigators’ mop-up, the names of some of the people who invested in Dongizer’s scheme came to light. One of them was Roger Waters.

Waters, as it happens, has publicly accused Chevron of “greed,” just as he’s charged Israel with child-killing. Consistently, as with his attacks on Israel, he acts as if he’s the voice of morality, occupying the high moral ground. But when you publicly accuse a company of greed even as you privately invest in a sleazy shakedown scheme aimed at fleecing that same firm, there’s nothing remotely high-minded about it. On the contrary, it’s duplicitous and sleazy, period. But knowing what we already knew about Roger Waters, we shouldn’t be surprised by his involvement in this sordid scam.

Lana Del Rey: another showbiz coward

 

Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey, the singer, has won a shelfful of prizes: two Brit Awards, a GQ Award for Woman of the Year, the MTV Europe Music Award, a Trailblazer Award from Billboard, plus four Grammy nominations. We’re also hereby presenting her with a perhaps less enviable accolade: we’re adding her to our Hall of Infamy for celebrities who have refused to perform in Israel. Among those who’ve already earned a place on the scroll of honor: Natalie Portman and Roger Waters.

Roger Waters

As we’ve seen, Waters has stooped so low as to equate Israel with Nazi Germany – a comparison that led Rabbi Schmuley Boteach to issue an angry correction:

…the Nazis were a genocidal regime that murdered 6 million Jews. That you would have the audacity to compare Jews to monsters who murdered them shows you have no decency, you have no heart, you have no soul. The Jews of Germany did nothing to invite the aggression against them. Indeed, they were loyal citizens of a country that many of them had fought for courageously just 20 years earlier in the First World War. They did not blow up buses for political purposes. They did not send terrorists into schools to murder children. They did not preach that killing German children would get them virgins in heaven. They lived lives of humanity and decency and were murdered for no other reason than the fact that they were Jews.

Far from being shamed into silence, Waters stayed on his high horse, preaching self-righteously about the purported evils of Israel, haranging both Robbie Williams and Dionne Warwick for agreeing to sing in Israel. 

Robbie Williams

Anyway, back to Lana. In her case, it started off well enough. Del Rey, who is touring the world to promote her latest album, Ultraviolence, originally agreed to play at the Meteor Festival, which took place at a kibbutz near Tel Aviv on September 6-8. When she first began to take heat for this move – from, among others, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), which compared Israel to apartheid South Africa – she stood by her decision, saying “I believe music is universal and should be used to bring us together” and promising to perform “with a loving energy” and “a thematic emphasis on peace.” She added: “If you don’t agree with it I get it. I see both sides.” She further pointed out that she did not mean to make “a political statement” by doing a show in Israel. “We don’t always agree with the politics of the places we play within or in our own country,” she said.

Abraham Riesman

That didn’t last long. On August 31, Del Rey backed down. Her excuse: she was postponing her appearance at the festival until she could “schedule visits for both my Israeli and Palestinian fans, as well as hopefully other countries in the region.” We look forward to seeing her take the stage in Saudi Arabia, burka and all. In any event, as Abraham Riesman commented at Vulture, it’s unfortunate that people around the world are increasingly being introduced to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through these crude pressure campaigns against showbiz figures, which are orchestrated by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. “Fifteen years ago,” wrote Reisman, “there was little to no stigma attached to a gig in Israel. Now, it seems inevitable that every musician who chooses to play there will face at least some degree of condemnation for doing so.”

Well, that’s how so much of the left operates these days: if it finds it doesn’t have truth and logic on its side, it resorts to lies and threats. And the more successful this strategy is, the more they’ll use it. It’s unfortunate that they managed to turn Lana del Rey, whose original instinct, as it happens, was the right one. 

Not Waters, but a swamp

Roger Waters

Time to revisit Roger Waters. In November 2015, we spent several days pondering the aging rocker and former Pink Floyd front man. We noted that in 2012, he defended Hamas terrorists, characterizing them as victims of Israeli “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “occupation.” In 2013, his concerts featured “a pig-shaped balloon adorned with Jewish symbols, including a Star of David.” He also compared Israelis to Nazis. “The parallels with what went on in the 1930s in Germany are so crushingly obvious,” he said of the supposed Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians.

Robbie Williams

In 2015, Salon ran an open letter by Waters to singer Robbie Williams, who was scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv. Waters informed Williams that Israelis view Palestinian children “as grass to be mowed” and instructed him that if he took the stage in Israel, he would be supporting “the deaths of over 500 Palestinian children last summer in Gaza…and condoning the arrest and abuse of hundreds of Palestinian children each year living under Israeli occupation.” Later that year, Salon published an even more virulent rant addressed to the band Bon Jovi, whose members he accused of being complicit in the murder of babies.

Liel Leibovitz

We were so awed by Waters’s bile that we named him one of the top ten stooges of 2015.

As we noted in our 2015 articles, Waters has been heavily criticized in some quarters for his anti-Jewish bile. Some very smart and well-informed people have tried to talk sense to him. But none of it has sunk in. He’s hung in there, sprewing his enmity. One of his most recent explosions was recounted by Liel Leibovitz in The Tablet on July 11. “[I]t takes a lot to move me, especially when it comes to the never-ending torrent of bigoted drivel produced by Israel’s shrillest detractors,” wrote Leibovitz. “But this week, Roger Waters proved he still has the stuff, producing a masterpiece of hate that deserves a moment of consideration.”

That anti-Semitic pig

Leibovitz went on to explain that at a performance in London’s Hyde Park, Waters had displayed “political slogans on the Jumbotrons.” They were inane: “Resist the Military Industrial Complex!” “Resist Rattling Your Sabre at Iran.” And so on. But the most absurd was this: “Resist Israeli anti-Semitism.” Meaning what? Meaning, apparently, that in the mind of Roger Waters, as Leibovitz put it, “the world’s only Jewish state is guilty of Jew-hatred.” Commented Leibovitz: “It’s not only an idiotic statement, but an astonishingly pernicious one as well. It begins with Waters appointing himself the arbiter of what passes for anti-Jewish persecution….And it continues with the rock star searching for evidence of anti-Jewish bigotry and finding it in the only place in the world where Jews are fully responsible for their own collective destiny.”

Waters might or might not know this, but as Leibovitz pointed out,

Blaming the Jews for their own misfortune…isn’t a new trick. It’s been a seminal feature of anti-Semitic rhetoric for millennia, and it served well squadrons of hissing haters who argued that if so many people want to exterminate the Jews, well, it must be for some good reason. But the modern incarnation of this ancient hatred is particularly grotesque: Speaking the hollowed-out language of the regressive left, Waters not only blames the Jews for their own troubles, but does so while claiming to be a champion of human rights. He’s telling his fans that it’s very important to take anti-Semitism seriously, and then adding that the only way to do it is to target the Jews.

Three cheers to Leibovitz and The Tablet for calling Waters out. But why isn’t there more rage at his bigotry? Why does he still have a career? “In an age when entertainers can lose their livelihood for one gauche tweet,” Leibovitz mused, “you can only wonder why no one seems too eager to censor this singing anti-Semite.”

Roger Waters v. Bon Jovi

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Roger Waters

We’ve spent a few days pondering the pronouncements of Roger Waters, formerly a member of the band Pink Floyd and currently a self-righteous preacher against Israel and against entertainers who dare to perform there. In the last couple of years he’s written articles attacking Robbie Williams and Dianne Warwick. Most recently, in early October, Salon ran an open letter from Waters to the three members of the band Bon Jovi, Jon Bon Jovi, David Bryan, and Tico Torres. The earlier pieces were aggressive enough; but this time around he really took off the gloves, telling Bon Jovi that by performing in Israel they were standing “shoulder to shoulder”

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Jon Bon Jovi

With the settler who burned the baby

With the bulldozer driver who crushed Rachel Corrie

With the soldier who shot the soccer player’s feet to bits

With the sailor who shelled the boys on the beach

With the sniper who killed the kid in the green shirt…

And so on. His last line: “To stand by silent and indifferent is the greatest crime of all.”

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Doron Goldberg

Perhaps because of its combative and graphic nature, Waters’s open letter to Bon Jovi drew even more attention than his previous Salon efforts. One response, from Israeli blogger Doron Goldberg, gave Waters a dose of his own medicine, accusing him of standing “shoulder to shoulder”

With the “passover massacre” suicide bomber who killed 30 and injured 172.

With the sniper who killed the 10 month old Shalhevet Pass.

With the suicide bomber who killed 17 in a disco….

Jon Bon Jovi, in any event, wasn’t moved by Waters’s attack. “It doesn’t interest me,” he said. “I told my managers to give one simple answer: That I’m coming to Israel and I’m excited to come.”

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Bon Jovi in Tel Aviv

As it happened, Bon Jovi’s performance for an audience of 50,000 fans in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park took place only minutes after two people were killed in a Jerusalem terrorist attack. At the concert, Jon Bon Jovi introduced the song “We Don’t Run” (“We don’t run, I’m standing my ground, / We don’t run, And we don’t back down”) by saying it “should be the fight song for Tel Aviv.”

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Howard Stern

The New York Post congratulated the band: “So here’s to Jon Bon Jovi, David Bryan on the ivories and drummer Tico Torres: They don’t run — or back down.” Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, called Waters a “front man for genocidal terrorists.” Sirius satellite radio host Howard Stern tore into Waters at length on his October 6 broadcast, wondering aloud why, if Waters — a (former) friendly acquaintance and occasional guest on his program — considers Israel stolen land, does he “live in America, a country that was founded on white people coming in and obliterating the native population? How does he stand it?” The next day, Stern picked up the subject again, noting that he’d heard privately from “many prominent people” who’d agreed strongly with his remarks — but who didn’t want to say so publicly, so scared were they of attracting the wrath of the BDS crowd. 

“Don’t be afraid to speak your mind,” Stern urged his timid allies. “Don’t let them get away with this!”

“Lessons” from Roger Waters

On April 28, Salon ran a remarkable piece by Roger Waters, the musician and former member of Pink Floyd. In it, Waters addressed an upcoming Tel Aviv gig by British singer Robbie Williams. Noting that Williams was “UNICEF’s UK ambassador and a declared supporter of its Children in Danger campaign,” Waters charged him with “showing a chilling indifference” to the well-being of Palestinian children and called on him to cancel his appearance.

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Robbie Williams

“Dear Robbie,” wrote Waters, addressing the singer directly, “playing this concert on May 2 would be giving your tacit support to the deaths of over 500 Palestinian children last summer in Gaza…and condoning the arrest and abuse of hundreds of Palestinian children each year living under Israeli occupation.” Informing Williams that Israeli officials are racists who view Palestinian children merely “as grass to be mowed,” he told Williams that

If you cannot see yourself in the eyes of a Palestinian father, you should do the decent thing and resign from UNICEF, or failing that, UNICEF should let you go.

Waters actually had the nerve to close this arrogant edict as follows: “Love, Roger Waters.”

Williams went ahead with his concert. But that didn’t discourage Waters. Only a couple of weeks later – again in Salon – he was haranguing singer Dionne Warwick, who, like Williams, was planning to perform in Israel. “I believe you mean well, Ms. Warwick,” he wrote, “but you are showing yourself to be profoundly ignorant of what has happened in Palestine since 1947.”

Mark-Menachem-Blacknell
Mark Blacknell

Meanwhile, yet another voice of reason had tried to get through to Waters. Writing in the Times of Israel, film director Mark Blacknell reminded the Israel-obsessed Waters that the target of his wrath enjoys such charming neighbors as Hezbollah, “Assad the Butcher,” ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the “Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen,” the “jihad-plagued, complete insanity of Sudan,” the “ultra-religious, feudalistic Mecca of Islam, Saudi Arabia,” and the “’end of days’ cult of the Ayatollah in Iran.” Blacknell asked Waters why, if he cares so much about Palestinians, he doesn’t “talk about the historically brutal Jordanian oppression of Palestinians, the Egyptians’ crackdown on Gaza or the hellish conditions in the Palestinian camps of Lebanon and Syria.” Why, he asked, “has no Arab nation granted Palestinians a place in their societies? Why won’t you criticize Jordan, Egypt, Syria or Lebanon for their treatment of innocent Palestinians?”

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Roger Waters

Blacknell made a couple of points worth repeating. First, he noted that pollsters had recently asked Israeli Arabs the following question: “If Palestine becomes a fully independent state will you renounce your Israeli citizenship and become a Palestinian citizen?” Seventy percent had said no. Blacknell also recalled that during the two years he’d spent making a documentary about Jews and Arabs, he’d had to face some unpleasant truths. “Every Israeli I interviewed said something like this, ‘I don’t hate Arabs, I just don’t think there’s anyway to satisfy them, so we have to protect ourselves?’ Every Palestinian I interviewed, said something like this, ‘The Zionist regime is occupation. It must be destroyed.’” If only “Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and their supporters in the Arab world acknowledged and accepted Israel today, the era of peace would begin tomorrow and Israel would lead the way.” That being a seemingly impossible dream, Blacknell had a proposal for Waters:

Supporters listen as Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas Gaza government, speaks during a Hamas rally marking the anniversary of the death of its leaders killed by Israel, in Gaza City March 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (GAZA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST ANNIVERSARY)
A March 2014 Hamas rally in Gaza City

Since Israeli fans no longer deserve your presence in the only democratic nation of the Middle East, I encourage you do a show in the heart of Gaza City. You could float one of your giant, pig balloons in the air with an Islamic Crescent moon and caricature of Muhammad on it. Then, you could utilize the freedom of speech that you currently use to voice your sophomoric (at best) understanding of the Middle East by telling Hamas that it’s the real enemy of the Palestinian people. I think only then, as the crowd publicly stomps you into the ground and drags you half-alive through the streets of Gaza, will you understand the true nature of Israel’s predicament.

But we’ll save Blackwell’s best sentence for last, and italicize it for emphasis:

What is presented to you as innocent victims struggling for freedom, is in reality uncompromising cultural intolerance at a level so antiquated that is difficult for many westerners to comprehend.

Not even this, however, stirred Waters out of his moral slumber. In fact – as we’ll see tomorrow – he took his attacks on fellow performers to a new height.