OK, I will admit it. I am a huge Roger Waters fan. In the mid to late 80‘s, Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” played in my car cassette player until I finally wore the tape out. I think that his far lesser known “Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking” is one of the best albums ever made. It has all of the Pink Floyd conceptual consciousness shifting trippyness with Eric Clapton leading on Guitar to boot! It was a major part of the soundtrack to my late teens.
So maybe I am a little protective of old Roger. My days of listening to Pink Floyd while zoning out on to a lava lamp are way past, but today I find myself at the center of his ire. I am a Jew. I am what he would refer to as a “West Bank Settler” – an occupier!
Last weekend, while Roger was explaining to the media why a Star of David emblazoned on a giant balloon pig floating across the stage during his sold out concert wasn’t anti-Semitic, rather anti Israel, Roger quickly switched gears to into a tirade on what he called the U.S. “Jewish” lobby. He then goes on to say that the reason the BDS “movement” isn’t catching on (not a single artist besides himself has signed up) is because, “The Jewish lobby is extraordinary powerful here and particularly in the industry that I work in, the music industry and in rock’n roll as they say. I promise you, naming no names, I’ve spoken to people who are terrified that if they stand shoulder to shoulder with me they are going to get f*****.”
So according to Roger, the Jews control Hollywood and the music industry. Hey let’s throw in banking and finance just for fun!
Here is the thing (and I am saying this as a proud Jew). If you really take an unbiased look at that statement, it’s not so far off. In fact it’s kinda true. I mean if you take a look at the make up of these industries, based on overall U.S. population, Jews are vastly overrepresented. Just sayin’.
This is actually a fact that I am proud of. The Jewish people came to America, a battered and beleaguered people, and raised themselves up to levels of prominence in a variety of the major industries in their new country, and like with any cultural group, there are major points of consensus amongst them.
The fact that Roger pointed this out does not make him an anti-Semite.
There is a second point that cannot be denied. The return of the Jewish people to the their ancient homeland has resulted in the suffering of the Arab population of the region. I would argue that much of that suffering is self inflicted, and a result of Arab intransigence, intolerance, bigotry, hatred both within the Arab countries that border Israel and outwardly at the Jewish people.
We could argue all day about the root of the conflict but whatever the cause, Roger Waters is obviously someone whose artistic genius derives from a sensitivity to the suffering of others.
Third fact: Let’s face it, as a people, we Jews are pretty quick to pull the “anti-Semite” card.
Remember the great Jackie Mason bit about how “the cop was such an anti-Semite that he crawled over the two cars I was double parked in front of just to write me a ticket!”
I don’t believe Roger Waters is an anti-Semite. I do not even believe that his comments were anti-Semitic. I’m even ok with the flying pig. This is so inconsequential when placed next to the 3,000-year-old history of our people in this land. And if antisemitism is indeed as famously stated, “hating Jews more than you are supposed to” he didn’t cross that line.
I do believe, however, that Roger Water’s beliefs represent and are the natural consequence of a much more insidious, nuanced antisemitism that has systematically pervaded global thought and can be described as the new antisemitism.
It is the global consensus that Jews simply do not belong in Judea and Samaria.
This antisemitism leads otherwise good caring people to the sole conclusion that the presence of the Jewish people in the heart of their ancient homeland is such a crime, such an injustice, that forcefully removing them from their homes based on the fact that they are Jews is not even ethnic cleansing. In fact, it’s considered the only fair and just solution.
It leads the American administration the EU and artists like Roger Waters to the inevitable conclusion that it is legal, moral and just to eradicate the Jewish population from Judea.
As I heard my friend and colleague Jeremy Gimpel point out recently, “the reason that the name of the geographical region was changed from Judea (which it was known by for thousands of years) to “the West Bank” in the 20th Century, is that it sounds so stupid to say the Jews are occupying Judea!”
I live in the newly re-established ancient Judean village of Tekoa. I do not live here, as old Roger would suggest, because of greed and avarice, or my desire to exercise power over another people, but rather because it is where I believe I belong. I am not a Jew because my religion is Judaism. I am a Jew because my people come from Judea. There is no more natural place for me to live.
Our village is surrounded by Arab villages. When I drive by them, or hear their muezzins call to prayer, it seems to me as organic a part of the landscape as the craggy canyons, scattered olive trees and my children running proudly through her hills.
Unlike Roger, I do not wish to force anyone out of their homes. I have no problem having Arab neighbors.
So Roger, the Jewish people’s dream of 2,000 years is not what you alluded to, some council of the Elders of Zion in Hollywood seeing an opportunity for a hostile corporate takeover and colonization of land from a weak indigenous population. It is about the natural human desire to go home. You see Roger, we are the indigenous population.
You said it best..
I like to be here
When I can
When I come home
Cold and tired
It’s good to warm my bones
Beside the fire
Across the field
Tolling on the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spell…
Keep on rockin!