David E. Weisberg

Does Roger Waters value money over morality?

It’s time for Roger Waters, rock star and BDS crusader, to do what he incessantly urges other artists to do.  It’s time for him to put his money where his mouth is by demonstrating that the Palestinian cause means more to him than profits. It’s time, at long last, for Roger Waters to boycott a country that the Palestinians themselves now believe to be an enemy to their cause: the U.S. under a Trump administration.

We all know that Waters has been, for many years, a leading advocate of the boycott, divestiture, and sanctions (“BDS”) campaign against Israel.  The campaign is allegedly motivated by dissatisfaction with Israel’s refusal to agree to a Palestinian state.  Waters regularly publicly urges entertainers not to perform in Israeli venues.  The boycott is supposed to motivate Israeli citizens to push their government to yield to Palestinian demands.

Of course, over the years that he has advocated on behalf of BDS, Waters has been something of a free-rider, in the sense that his advocacy has cost him nothing in terms of income.  Waters is a performer who is in demand all around the world.  His boycott of Israel results in no significant decrease in his income—any dates that he might have devoted to appearing in Israel can undoubtedly be used for an equally profitable appearance somewhere else.

But Waters’ free-rider status would certainly change if he decided to boycott the U.S.  And there can be no doubt that, unless Waters has been merely paying lip-service to the Palestinian cause over all these years, the time has indeed come for him to add the U.S. to the list of countries he will refuse to tour.

In an interview in 2015, Waters mused that, “At some point, it might become the correct thing to try to start a boycott movement of some sort in the United States.  But that time is not now.”  That was in 2015.  There can be no doubt that, in 2018, and consistent with the principles of BDS, a boycott of the U.S. is compulsory and will continue to be compulsory at least as long as Donald Trump is president.

Pres. Trump, as we all know, declared in December that the U.S. now recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would begin the process of moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  This is a significant change in U.S. policy.  It has not been met with approval in Palestinian circles or anywhere else in the Islamic world.

The Palestinian “president”, Mahmoud Abbas, who is now in the thirteenth year of his four-year presidential term, responded to Pres. Trump’s declaration by asserting: “These reprehensible and rejected measures constitute a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts.” Abbas also said Trump’s speech “represents a declaration that the United States has withdrawn from playing the role it has played in the past decades in sponsoring the peace process.”

Finally, Abbas accused Trump of “violating international resolutions and bilateral agreements,” and said the decision was a “reward to Israel for denying agreements and defying international legitimacy that encourages it to continue the policy of occupation, settlement, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.”  Abbas ordered that all contacts with U.S. officials be cut off, and he announced that he would refuse to meet with Vice President Pence when the latter visited the Middle East.

In summary, the U.S. role in the Israeli/Palestinian dispute has changed dramatically since 2015.  There might have been some question, in 2015, whether a supporter of the BDS campaign would be compelled, in good conscience and strict consistency, to boycott the U.S.  There can be no such question in 2018.  After all, the Palestinian authority is itself boycotting the Trump administration.  The BDS campaign must similarly be expanded to include a boycott of the U.S. under a Trump administration.

It just so happens that Mr. Waters has a world tour in the works.  You can read all about it on his website.  He has forty-nine (49) performances scheduled for dozens of cities in the U.S.—a country whose government, according to Mahmoud Abbas, is engaged in “a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts.”  There can be no doubt that, under these new circumstances, morality compels Roger Waters (and all other BDSers) to boycott the U.S. and cancel all U.S. appearances, regardless of financial consequences.

Surely, Mr. Waters will put the Palestinian cause above mere profit.  Only a hypocrite would behave differently.

About the Author
David E. Weisberg is a semi-retired attorney and a member of the N.Y. Bar; he also has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The University of Michigan (1971). He now lives in Cary, NC. His scholarly papers on U.S. constitutional law can be read on the Social Science Research Network at: