Out of curiosity, I’ve been following Roger Waters for some time now, including his recent string of attacks on Israel. The former guitarist for 1970s successful UK rock band Pink Floyd has decided to dabble into the political arena where Waters has focused most of his attention on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. On a personal level, I view it as a mistake, but for me, it also comes as no surprise that musicians, especially successful ones, have very liberal views and want to express them. After all, many of these musician’s songs are focused on making a “better” world, or more precisely a “fair world”. And after all, this is a successful and relatable direction for an artist to be expressing their feelings as evidenced by record sales. We can see similar approaches in all aspects of entertainment, including film and television. Who has not watched the “Brady Bunch” and derived that this is the type of family that Americans should strive for? That is, a family that has its issues resolved after 30 minutes with a happy ending. Likewise, the successful Tom Cruise movie “Jerry McGuire” will call attention to the happy ending, where someone who has the “correct” vision of how the world should be, actually “wins”. Unfortunately, this view is nice but doesn’t exist in the real world. Or maybe I should say, it doesn’t exist in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. And that’s a shame. Waters views are a “Brady Bunch” view of a serious conflict, and does him little in effectively arguing his point.
So what is it about Waters views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that make me say he’s living in a “Brady Bunch” world? Well, I can’t help but notice an attempt by Waters to paint this conflict as black and white. Very predictable, and very much like our “Brady Bunch” world that can’t exist. There is a bright line between right and wrong, and any viewer with common sense can see it. In Water’s view, Palestinians are wronged, Israel is the bad guy and we must, as a world, come together as one to fix this injustice. But in bringing forth such a message on this conflict, Waters misses terribly in the logic for which he claims to champion as I will continue to explain.
You see, since the beginning of this year, Waters has written at least two opinion pieces in Salon. The first was an appeal to the Rolling Stones to cancel its historic one-time show in Tel-Aviv in order to show solidarity to the Palestinians in the form of a boycott of Israel. His most recent opinion, this past Monday, discusses how American policy is immoral in its support of Israel. In both opinion pieces, Waters fails miserably in its task of convincing me that he knows what he’s talking about and that he has a correct vision of how to handle the complex conflict.
For starters, Waters fails to mention Hamas or their behavior. It’s as if, in choosing good guys and bad guys, we need to totally ignore Hamas and side with Palestinians. The problem with such logic is that we cannot ignore Hamas. This is the terror group according to a large portion of the civilized world that has effectively made Gaza a humanitarian disaster. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that terror groups that funnel money meant to build hospitals, schools, and other infrastructure to instead, buy weapons and build terror tunnels is a topic that must be addressed. Likewise, this terror group shoots rockets indiscriminately at civilian targets and was responsible for a majority of the 800 Israeli civilian deaths during the 2nd intifada, as well as hundreds of Israeli civilian deaths during negotiations for a peaceful settlement during Oslo. Its charter explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews. How can one ignore such and claim to be a proponent of Palestinians? How can one claim to care about international law and human rights but totally ignore the crimes that Hamas has perpetrated against Israel? And of course, there’s no discourse from Waters with regard to Hamas administration of the Gaza strip the past 8 years in which political opponents were thrown off rooftops, suspected collaborators executed and dragged through the streets of Gaza without the benefit of due process or a trial. No concern from Waters as to the status of minority Christians, women, and homosexuals, all of which have had their human rights violated as documented by several human rights organizations.
Likewise, one need only look at the media venues for which Roger Waters is getting attention to see that this individual has terribly missed an opportunity that was gifted to him as a result of his celebrity status. There’s a reason that the man is relegated to the confines of Salon, Counterpunch, and his own Facebook page, rather than be brought in by mainstream media to discuss his ideas. But this is Waters own doing and he can only blame himself, although I suspect he’d like to blame Israel for his lack of mainstream attention.
It’s really simple to see how Waters has missed his chance. Rather than take time to figure out the complexities of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, he chose to take sides and accept that side’s propaganda in lieu of facts. It’s as if Waters has been blinded by the Palestinian propaganda to the point that he believes such propaganda equivalent to the “Brady Bunch” narrative of how Palestinian life should be. Just as one can take a look outside the “Brady Bunch” filming to see the lives of the actors not being in line and step with the characters portrayed, one can look at the Palestinian narrative that Waters cites and see that it doesn’t tell the reality of why there’s a conflict.
However, unlike the “Brady Bunch” which was showcased on national television to wide audiences and lives forever in reruns, Waters narrative of the Palestinian propaganda lives only in marginalized media outlets on social media. It’s the equivalent of a Nielsen rating disaster. Mr. Waters’ voice is heard on dubious and marginalized readings such as Counterpunch, in which on interview, Waters claims that the “Jewish lobby” is powerful in the music industry and to which that is the reason why other musicians do not speak out against Israel. Waters also draws parallels between Israeli policies towards Palestinians to 1930s Germany in that same interview. I’ve heard that before from others, and to one with a solid historical perspective, it’s a callous assault on the true history of Germany’s attitude towards Jews in the 1930s to be compared to the complexity of the Palestinian-Israeli history. Such statements are ignorant and bigoted, and no doubt, left to news organizations on the fringes of society rather than mainstream.
Let’s be clear. Mr. Waters is entitled to his opinion. However, his “Brady Bunch” narrative coupled with his inherent anti-Semitism is what’s making his voice muted and ignored largely by mainstream media. It’s not a “Jewish lobby” or any other bogey man he’d like us all to think. It’s his own doing because Waters fails to think through the history before speaking. Waters does a disservice to Palestinians and himself by continually focusing on Israel. Perhaps it’s in his musician DNA that is making him run afoul. But it’s a shame. He had an opportunity to be heard and taken seriously but chose to accept a “Brady Bunch” world.