On October 2nd, Roger Waters — the rock musician who has become the face of the hateful Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel — will begin a cross-Canada tour in Toronto. While he is here, our community must speak out against the bigoted campaign to which he has so publicly lent his name.
Here’s what you should know:
Leaders of the BDS movement have openly declared that their goal is the destruction of Israel. They are not interested in two states for two peoples, rather in one Arab state that extends “from the river to the sea.” Proponents of BDS cleverly cloak their hateful intentions in the language of human rights and social justice to appeal to those who know little about the complexities of the conflict. Those who seek to advance BDS do so by bullying supporters of Israel and by demonizing the sole democracy in the Middle East.
The takeaway: BDS is vile discrimination based on national origin and its proponents frequently cross the line into antisemitism.
- Roger Waters himself has played in Israel
After performing in Israel in 2006, Waters told The Guardian newspaper: “I would not rule out going to Israel because I disapprove of their foreign policy any more than I would refuse to play in the UK because I disapprove of Tony Blair’s foreign policy.”
And yet these days Waters incessantly harasses artists scheduled to perform in Israel. Most recently, Waters tried to bully Radiohead into cancelling a concert in Tel Aviv. The band’s singer and songwriter, Thom Yorke, didn’t take kindly to Water’s campaign of hate. He called out his BDS activism as “offensive,” “deeply disrespectful,” and “patronizing in the extreme.”
The takeaway: Waters is a hypocrite whose message is widely rejected by his fellow musicians.
- Roger Waters’ hateful anti-Israel campaign is failing
A quick glance at those who have performed in Israel in recent years reveals a range of A-list celebrities that include Radiohead, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Aerosmith, Rihanna, and Guns N’ Roses, to name a few.
Beyond Waters, it is hard to find an artist with any name recognition who has agreed to participate in the cultural boycott of Israel.
The takeaway: Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park is quickly becoming an essential venue for the world’s most popular performers.
- We will continue to stand up against BDS
As a community, we must fight BDS just as we would other forms of antisemitism. By helping Canada’s current and future leaders build strong ties with Israel, UJA Federation and CIJA work to keep BDS activists where they belong: on the margins.
We organize life-changing missions that educate Canada’s political, academic, and business leaders about the real Israel. We build coalitions with Canadian leaders from other faith and ethnic communities so we have strong allies in the fight against antisemitism. And, working with our partners at Hillel, we provide Jewish and pro-Israel students with the resources, skills, and confidence they need to share the truth about Israel on campus.
The takeaway: We’re in the fight and you can be too. Every member of our community has a vital role to play in the battle against the hateful and divisive BDS campaign.
- There is a role for every member of the pro-Israel community who wants to stand up against BDS
When Roger Waters comes to Canada, our community must send a strong message that the hatred, discrimination, and misinformation that fuels the divisive BDS campaign will not go unchallenged.
Our voice is louder when we speak as one.
The takeaway: You can help. Please visit www.cija.ca/bdsishate to send Roger Waters a clear message: antisemitism, bigotry, and hatred are not welcome here.
Adam Minsky is the CEO of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
Shimon Koffler Fogel is the CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations across Canada.