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Hamptonites Protest Roger Waters at Bay Street Theater

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On Friday, October 30, supporters of Israel gathered outside the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor to protest the performance of Roger Waters.

Jewish and non-Jewish protesters held up an array of signs and Israel flags.

Several demonstrators proudly waved signs that said “ISRAEL is NOT an apartheid country.”

On Friday, October 30, proud supporters of Israel rallied; Jews and non-Jews from all over the South Fork trekked to Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor to protest the performance of an anti-Israel musician.

The thoroughly detestable Roger Waters, well known for spewing anti-Israel hate speeches, was scheduled to perform. Booking Waters was certainly poor judgment especially in the Hamptons where such pro-Israel stars, such as Bon Jovi, Madonna and Howard Stern, performed. These notable celebrities have said that they would never perform with Waters, because of his anti-Semitism. Earlier this year, when Bon Jovi announced that he would be performing in Israel, Roger Waters penned a long open letter in Salon to Bon Jovi slamming the group ahead of their October 3rd concert in Tel Aviv. Waters has routinely called on his fellow artists to boycott performing in Israel.

Our campaign: Boycott Roger Waters: Anti-Semite, Anti-Israel was gratifying in its clear success. Karl Grossman, writing in the Times of Israel, described the very active scene.

“Demonstrators were at the theatre both in the afternoon and evening when the Waters performance occurred. “Someone has to speak out. We can’t let ourselves be bullied,” explained Rabbi Leibel Baumgarten of Chabad of East Hampton. “That’s what happened in the ‘30s and look how the world suffered. No one reacted.” Rabbi Leibel was holding a sign reading: “Learn the Truth. ISRAEL is NOT an apartheid country.” It referred people to bdsmovement/roger waters.

One sign, held by Sharon Grindle of Southampton, read: “ROGER WATERS ANTI-ISRAEL ANTI-SEMITE.” Ms. Grindle commented: “As a Jew, I love the State of Israel. Waters travels around the world trying to influence people and because he is a celebrity, people think he knows something—but he doesn’t know anything.”

Another demonstrator, Dr. Emilie Kutash, professor of philosophy at St. Joseph’s College Long Island, said: “I suggest people read their history and read current events and learn the facts and learn that Israel is the victims of thousands of rockets, stabbings, murders and other attacks for decades—Israel is a victim, not a perpetrator.” Dr. Kutash was distributing literature.

One flier at the protest included the line: “NEVER AGAIN IS NOW!”

Osnat Gad of Southampton, originally from Afghanistan to where her family and other Jewish families escaped from Iran, although, she said, none are now left there–declared: “The state of Israel has to survive. We need a country for the Jews. We don’t want to go back to ghettoes.” She held a sign declaring: “BDS IS A HATE CRIME.

Said Edie Lutnick of Sagaponack: “Roger Waters is a raging anti-Semite and he doesn’t separate his politics from his music.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the leading human rights organization famed for its decades of hunting down Nazis, joined in the cause by issuing a statement last week headed, “Wiesenthal Center: New Yorkers Should Give Anti-Israel Boycott Leader Roger Waters what he Deserves—an Empty Theatre.”

The Simon Wiesenthal statement quoted its dean and founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, and its associate dean, Abraham Cooper, saying: “Roger Waters is an entertainer who hates the Jewish State of Israel. He is a major promoter of the anti-peace Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. This extreme anti-Israel campaign has never helped a single Palestinian as it is designed only to demonize and denigrate the lone democracy in the Middle East and the only society in the region where freedom of speech and artistic expression flourish.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center statement went further: “Give Roger Waters the reception he deserves, an EMPTY HALL”

Larry Silverman of East Hampton, I worked on the protest at Bay Street Theatre, said “This is just the beginning of what we intend to do. We intend to start a worldwide campaign to protest Roger Waters wherever he is. This is just the beginning of standing up to Roger Waters and what he stands for.”

Meanwhile, Congressman Lee Zeldin, whose district includes Sag Harbor, has commented: “I’m proud of our community’s reaction to this performance. Roger Waters has been so wrong on his stances on Israel so many times and on so many levels.” Zeldin, of Shirley, is the only Jewish Republican in the House of Representatives.

And New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., a Sag Harbor resident, is pointing to a resolution passed unanimously by the State Assembly on June 18 titled: “Rejecting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.” It was approved by all 150 members of the State Assembly after a debate in which, notes Thiele, the statements of speakers were “all favorable” to the resolution.

It declares that the BDS movement is “damaging to the causes of peace, justice, equality, democracy, and human rights for all peoples in the Middle East,” and the members of the State Assembly “oppose all attempts to economically and politically isolate Israel within the international arena, and oppose efforts to assault the legitimacy of Israel as the sovereign homeland of the Jewish people.”

Rabbi Leibel was holding a sign reading: “Learn the Truth. ISRAEL is NOT an apartheid country.” It referred people to BDS movement/roger waters. … Protesters at Bay Street Theatre considered Waters both anti-Israel and an anti-Semite.

In the face of the protest, some ticket holders turned away from the theater, other protesters said they would be discontinuing their season ticket subscriptions. Actions have consequences. Maligning the Jewish state is both senseless and baseless. IDF aid missions help thousands around the world: Over the last 26 years, Israel has sent out 15 aid missions to countries struck by natural disasters. Immediately upon arriving in these countries, IDF doctors set up field hospitals. Overall, medical care was given to more than 2,300 people in afflicted areas, and 220 were saved from certain death.

The Jewish State is home in Israel. That affords its IDF the ability to fulfill the very particular mitzvot to give aid to the stranger. Israeli aid missions help thousands around the world: Over the last 26 years, Israel has sent out 15 aid missions to countries struck by natural disasters. Immediately upon arriving in these countries, IDF doctors set up field hospitals. Overall, medical care was given to more than 2,300 people in afflicted areas, and 220 were saved from certain death… No other nation has met this level of aid. It doesn’t come without cost, Israel quite modestly, helps when and where help is needed.

Janet Lehr

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