Aging rocker Roger Waters is peeved that the equally aging Rolling Stones plan to play Tel Aviv this summer; he just wrote a public letter castigating the band for defying his anti-Israel boycott. Hey, Roger: You might want to look at what the under-40 crowd is doing.
For those who don’t live in Israel, the few artists heeding the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement by refusing to perform there might seem to take center stage. But the big nay-sayers (aside from Waters) include Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana and Elvis Costello. It’s safe to say that music fans not yet members of AARP won’t be greatly affected.
As for Waters, the Pink Floyd founder and most outspoken proponent of the BDS movement, his hate speech erodes his credibility. His anti-Semitic rhetoric is full-bore, as he claims Israel is a “racist apartheid regime” that practices “ethnic cleansing” and compares Jews to Nazi collaborators. No rational person wants to be part of such abhorrence.
By no means should supporters of Israel take the BDS efforts lightly. Just the opposite — activism and calling out their hypocrisy is the key to keeping their efforts impotent.
Hypocrisy? Yes: Waters and his BDS cohorts were silent when it came to fellow artists such a Jennifer Lopez, Sting and Mariah Carey taking large sums of cash to perform for some of the world’s most ruthless dictators in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Angola, respectably.
Anyway, the boycotters won’t be missed this summer or anytime in the near future in the Jewish State.
At month’s end, one of the world’s biggest stars, Justin Timberlake, is performing in Israel. Bringing “Sexy Back” to a country that never lost it, his May 28 performance in HaYarkon Park, Tel Aviv, kicks off the summer concert season in Israel. The Creative Community For Peace is promoting JT’s performance as an opportunity to “bring people together.”
And the former ’N Sync front-man isn’t the biggest show in Israel this summer. The BDS “can’t get no satisfaction” as the Stones play HaYarkon Park on June 4.
Upon the March announcement of the show, BDS spokeswoman Rafeef Ziadeh may have taken too many “Mother’s Little Helpers” before she driveled, “We’re now at the point where high-profile performances such as this one are the exception rather than the rule.”
Apparently Ziadeh is unaware of the upcoming performances by Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. She probably forgot that Paul McCartney, Elton John, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black Eyed Peas and Metallica have recently entertained Jews and Arabs in Israel.
No, not every artist who performs in Israel endorses all the policies of the Jewish State. But it’s safe to say they all appreciate Israel for being the only true democracy in the Middle East.
And if a picture speaks a thousand words then the obituary for the BDS movement is being written. A glance at the celebrity sightings page of the Web site of the aforementioned Creative Community For Peace reveals a Who’s Who of the industry touring, performing and praying in the Jewish State.
Images of hip-hop icon Russell Simons wearing a yamulke — kissing the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Madonna embracing Israeli President Shimon Peres. Shakira visiting school children in Jerusalem. These are the pictures that tell a story about an entertainment industry defying the calls of a few — promoting their art — advocating peace through their craft.
Artists overwhelmingly support gay rights and equality for women and minorities. Israel’s neighbors don’t offer these freedoms. And regardless of disagreements, the entertainment industry is expressing itself with unified voice that singling out Israel for not being perfect is ludicrous.
Sorry, BDS — the artists refusing to play into your anti-Semitism will never be your beast of burden.
(Originally published in the New York Post)
Paul Miller is an op-ed contributor to the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity. He serves as principal of Pauliegroup LLC, a Chicago-based new-media and political consulting firm.