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Waters slams artists for stance on Israel

Former Floyd man says musicians are scared to speak out against the country in case they’re accused of being anti-semitic

Roger Waters has taken aim at artists for not speaking out against Israel.

The former Pink Floyd man supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – a human rights cause set up to “end Israel's occupation, racial discrimination and denial of basic Palestinian rights.”

And Waters says the majority of artists are scared to join him in his views on Israel as they’re scared of being branded anti-semitic.

He tells the Independent: “The only response to BDS is that it is anti-semitic. I know this because I have been accused of being a Nazi and an anti-semite for the past 10 years.

“My industry has been particularly recalcitrant in even raising a voice against Israel. There’s me and Elvis Costello, Brian Eno, Manic Street Preachers, one or two others, but there’s nobody in the US where I live. I’ve talked to a lot of them, and they are scared shitless." 

He continues: “If they say something in public they will no longer have a career. They will be destroyed. I’m hoping to encourage some of them to stop being frightened and to stand up and be counted, because we need them. 

“We need them desperately in this conversation in the same way we needed musicians to join protesters over Vietnam.”

Waters planned to play a show in Tel Aviv in 2006 but switched it to Neve Shalom, an Arab/Israeli peace village after speaking to Palestinian artists and protestors. But as tickets to the event had already sold out, the audience was entirely Jewish Israeli – something Waters called “uncomfortable.”

He adds: “It was very strange performing to a completely segregated audience because there were no Palestinians there. There were just 60,000 Jewish Israelis, who could not have been more welcoming, nice and loyal to Pink Floyd. Nevertheless, it left an uncomfortable feeling.”

Last year, Waters and Nick Mason called upon the Rolling Stones to cancel their plans to perform in Israel.

The pair said in a statement: “If you wouldn’t play Sun City back in the day – as you, the Rolling Stones, did not – then don’t play Tel Aviv until such time as freedom reigns for all and equal rights is the law of the land." 

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