Should Roger Waters of Pink Floyd Appear at the 92nd Street Y?By Eileen F. Toplansky
Inspired by the 2001 Durban UN Conference against Racism, the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions (BDS) Movement refers to an ongoing campaign by over 150 Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGO's) aimed at inflicting economic hardship on Israel for its alleged human rights abuses against the Palestinians.
Couched in humanitarian sentiments, the BDS movement aims to demonize Israel and manipulate various groups "to act against Israel in academic, commercial, social, and cultural fields." Crippling Israel's economy becomes a priority. Ostracizing Israel and fomenting anti-Israel "fixation" by delegitimizing Israel at every level is the BDS' final goal. It is a new tool in the age-old antisemitic bag of weaponry.
In fact, BDS activists accuse Israel of being an "apartheid and colonizing state," "a discriminatory occupation regime," "a violator of international law," and a "repressive occupier." Mitchell Bard points out in his book The Arab Lobby, that
At this site, entitled "Apartheid Today" created by StandWithUs, the pictures speak for themselves. But you will never hear a BDS participant acknowledge the actual apartheid in the Arab world. Nonetheless, Israel is excoriated for crimes that simply do not occur in this democratic outpost of the Middle East.
Enlarging the scope of these accusations, British academics call for academic and cultural boycotts of Israel. In the United States, Harvard President Lawrence Summers stated that "[p]rofoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities."
As scholarship and academic veracity become the exception to what once was a true discipline in Middle Eastern studies, anti-Israel sentiment is becoming the norm. Arab and Muslim violence is ignored; historical evidence is shredded and Israel is vilified.
In 2004 the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PCACBI) was officially launched in Ramallah. Upon closer inspection, the list of endorsing organizations includes "illegal associations, and terror organizations" such as Hamas. Another endorser, the Islah Charitable Society is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood's branch in Yemen and is involved in money laundering for the Muslim Brotherhood affiliates all over the world.
The PCACBI has singled out for praise a number of performers who have "continued to stay away from apartheid Israel." These include Alice Walker who "in June 2012, announced that she was refusing to allow the Israeli publisher Yediot Books to release a Hebrew translation of her book The Color Purple, because Israel, in her view, was an 'apartheid' state. In a letter to Yediot Books which she posted on the PCACBI website, Walker characterized Israeli policies as being 'far worse' than those of pre-1960s America."
In 2011 David Horowitz, guest speaker at Brooklyn College to counter Israel Apartheid Week recalls that "the campus atmosphere was so hostile to Jews that no student organization was willing to host my appearance." Horowitz also stated that the editor of Brooklyn College's paper the Excelsior declared "on the Internet that a memorial should be erected to Mohammed Atta and the 9/11 terrorists [.]" In January 2013, "the political science faculty at Brooklyn College" came out in support of the BDS movement.
Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz has referred to the BDS movement as one of the most "immoral, illegal and despicable concepts around academia today." One look at the BDS site should make it clear that "ultimately, BDS seeks to force Israel to abandon, internally, its Jewish character, and externally, its sovereignty." In fact, although "the official tone expressed by the BDS Movement publicly maintains a careful ambiguity regarding the Movement's agenda vis-à-vis Israel's right to exist...many of the Movement's catalysts seek to undermine the legitimacy of the State of Israel and Zionism, and view BDS as a tool to undercut the political model of the State of Israel."
Which brings me to Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame and BDS Advocate against Israel who is scheduled to appear at the 92nd Street Y in New York City on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at an event called "A Conversation with Roger Waters."
At the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel site, Waters is lauded for "his endorsement of the Palestinian-led, global BDS movement."
No stranger to controversy, in 2010 Waters was accused by Abraham Foxman, the director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), of using the Star of David in a sequence that echoed the stereotype that Jews were avaricious.
In 2011, Waters wrote a piece entitled "Tear down this Israeli wall" referring to the fence that Israel was forced to erect in order to stop suicide bombers who were wreaking unimaginable havoc on Jewish and Arab Israelis. Odd that Waters makes no mention of the reasons for the construction of this security fence. His compassion and solidarity are somewhat skewed.
Waters refuses to perform in Israel. He has pressured other entertainers, i.e., Stevie Wonder, to renege after agreeing to perform in Israel. In fact, advocates for the BDS movement have set their sights on a new target -- recording artist Alicia Keys who is scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv this summer. In a blog by Emily Hochberg dated March 14, 2013, the Jewish Federations of North America Action Alert is urging people to support Alicia Keys and "stand up to Israel's detractors and join the ranks of superstars such as Rihanna, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Black Eyed Peas, Missy Elliot, Metallica, Lady Gaga, Madonna and many others who have used the power of music to help bring hope and peace to the region."
Which brings me to the ultimate question. Should a Jewish organization such as the 92nd Street Y which is financially supported by groups and individuals who care about Israel be using their forum to host the likes of Roger Waters? Why, in fact, is the 92nd Street Y hosting this man? According to their site "[i]t's been forty-five years since Floyd's legendary Freak Out Ethel happening in London, but Waters has lost none of his power -- his recent album, The Wall Live, is the third bestselling album of all time. Join him as he looks back over his career."
Will the audience even be familiar with the BDS agenda or have they merely purchased the tickets priced from $73, to recall the music of their youth? If, on the other hand, Waters' event is cancelled as some are calling for, will this make him a martyr among his BDS followers and feed into yet another Jewish lobby canard?
The event is being billed as a "Conversation with Roger Waters." Will there be a moderator well-versed about the BDS agenda posing hard-hitting questions to Waters? Will the facilitator be able and willing to rebut Waters' false allegations about Israel? Will the audience be given an overview of the BDS Movement so they can be educated or will Waters use this forum to mesmerize yet another American, largely Jewish audience into believing the prevarications and lies of the BDS?
And, if the BDS Movement is never brought up during the evening's program, have ticket holders inadvertently shown support for a movement that many would find morally repugnant?
Moreover, the 92nd Street Y is one of many agencies that receives funding from the UJA-Federation of New York. What can be said about the 92nd Street Y's moral compass and commitment to human rights if a proponent of BDS is given this kind of forum with "the power to rapidly erode the moral standing of Israel in the world?"
And, finally, is this how philanthropic donations to aid Israel and the Jewish community should be used?
What say you?
Eileen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne Bayefsky. The UN World Conference Against Racism: A Racist Anti-Racism Conference. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting (American Society of International Law), Vol. 96 March 13-16, 2002), pp. 65-74.
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