In what's becoming an annual tradition for the curmudgeonly former Pink Floyd frontman, Roger Waters has once again asked his fellow musicians to refrain from performing in Israel. For years, Waters — who is at the forefront of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement — has raged against Israel and its allies over their treatment of Palestine. While Waters initially hoped music would help mollify this ancient turf war, he doesn't see that happening anytime soon, so instead he's called upon musicians to boycott the country altogether. "They are running riot and it seems unlikely that running over there and playing the violin will have any lasting effect," Waters told Electronic Intifada (via Rolling Stone).
This isn't Waters first time running afoul with the country. Back in 2006, Waters relocated a tour date from Tel Aviv to the small town of Neve Shalom, where Palestinians and Israelis peacefully coexist, to voice his disapproval of the Israelis' handling of Palestine. He also spray-painted the lyric "We don't need no thought control" on the Israeli side of the West Bank wall. In 2010, during his tour celebrating The Wall, Waters' concert projected imagery of Star of Davids morphing into dollar signs and dropped bombs, which drew the ire of the Anti-Defamation League. Then in 2011, Waters asked his fellow musicians to boycott playing Israel until the West Bank barrier came down. While that plea was largely ignored, Waters' latest effort to get an artistic boycott of Israel going has convinced at least one person to refrain from playing there: Stevie Wonder.
Wonder was scheduled to perform in front of the Israeli Defense Forces this past December, but Waters convinced the singer to cancel his appearance. "I wrote a letter to [Wonder] saying that this would be like playing a police ball in Johannesburg the day after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960. It wouldn't be a great thing to do, particularly as he was meant to be a UN ambassador for peace," Waters told Electronic Intifada. "It wasn't just me. Desmond Tutu also wrote a letter." Waters said that he hopes E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt, who penned the all-star Artists United Against Apartheid's protest track "Sun City," will join him in his crusade.
While Waters is probably pumped that Lollapalooza Israel was canceled, he might be bummed to hear that Barbra Streisand and Alicia Keys have elected to perform in Israel this summer despite BDS pressure.