Dear Mr. Waters,
As a fellow musician (although nowhere near your level of notoriety) I felt compelled to respond to your “Open Letter” to Robbie Williams published in “Salon” on April 28th, 2015.
I begin with a question. Can the circumstances in Israel really be considered through the lens of your western culture and values? Can you really compare your home nation’s neighbors, Iceland, Norway, Ireland, France and Holland with Israel’s neighbors in the Middle East? Am I wrong to suggest that the biggest threat to the whole of the European continent, including the British Isles, comes from citizens that emigrated to the west from the tribal Middle East and have since refused to assimilate?
And what about the Middle East that you claim to know so much about Mr. Waters? Now that’s one place that I think we both can agree has real problems. Let’s take a look at Israel’s neighbors in comparison to Britain’s. To the north, Israel has those Shiite extremists Hezbollah in Lebanon who fight with Iran and “Assad the Butcher” in the sectarian mess of Syria against not only their arch rivals ISIS and Al Qaeda but the Free Syrian Army. Also to the north of Israel is a Turkish nation that denies the Armenian holocaust that they perpetrated during the Ottoman Empire, as well as the Holocaust of World War II but likens Israel to the Nazi fanatics that your own father fought and died to defeat. Last but not least, I can’t forget that candidly Jew hating, nuclear weapon pursuing, “end of days” cult of the Ayatollah in Iran who actively supports the “Butcher of Syria,” Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the anti-western, Jew despising Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen, just to name a few. I challenge you to compare and contrast Israel’s founding constitution (based on the U.S. Declaration of Independence) to the terrible, hated filled, founding constitutions of each of the countries and groups affiliated with Iran.
Now Mr. Waters it’s time to talk about Israel’s southern border where it has to contend with an unstable Egyptian dictatorship (which ironically is one of only three voices of reason in the entire region including Jordan and Israel), ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula and the jihad-plagued, complete insanity of Sudan.
In the wild-west, Israel confronts radical Hamas and Islamic Jihad mobs who terrorize the population of Gaza and state their hatred of Jewish people publically. Mr. Waters you said in the “Salon” article that you played Israel in 2006 and I paraphrase, “before you knew better.” My future wife was at that Israel show and called me in America during “Wish You Were Here.” I don’t think you can possibly understand how hurtful your statement was to my family, as well as the 60,000 or so Israelis that paid $100 US to see you perform that beautiful day in 2006. Since Israeli fans no longer deserve your presence in the only democratic nation of the Middle East, I encourage you do a show in the heart of Gaza City. You could float one of your giant, pig balloons in the air with an Islamic Crescent moon and caricature of Muhammad on it. Then, you could utilize the freedom of speech that you currently use to voice your sophomoric (at best) understanding of the Middle East by telling Hamas that it’s the real enemy of the Palestinian people. I think only then, as the crowd publicly stomps you into the ground and drags you half-alive through the streets of Gaza, will you understand the true nature of Israel’s predicament.
To the east, Mr. Waters, the State of Israel stares into the frightened eyes of a threatened monarch in Jordan (the other of the three voices of reason in the region), the sectarian disaster-land known as Iraq (created by big oil, Saddam Hussein, Iran, America and yes, even your own Great Britain), the ultra-religious, feudalistic Mecca of Islam, Saudi Arabia and the good old corrupt, mafia, Jew-bashing gang of Fatah brutes (the PLO) in the West Bank.
The last of Israel’s enemies, represents perhaps the most hypocritical and ambiguous factor in this whole absurd dilemma. Israel’s 20% (and climbing) Arab-Israeli population that enjoys the peace and prosperity of their nation yet is invited to bring an anti-Israel message straight into the halls of the Israeli parliament. What apartheid state invites the enemy to join the government? Is it possible for any pro- Israel political party to walk into any Arab capital of the world and challenge the legitimacy of the state? One recent poll asked Israeli-Arabs the following question, “If Palestine becomes a fully independent state will you renounce your Israeli citizenship and become a Palestinian citizen?” According to the politics of the minority, the answer should have been a resounding, 100% “yes.” Instead, more than 70% of Arab Israelis said “no” they would not renounce their Israeli citizenship. Why? Modern health care and education, freedom, equal rights for women and other “less than manly” people, a significantly higher standard of living, a fairly impartial court system (that often rules in favor of Arabs over Jews); in other words a real life like you enjoy in the west Mr. Waters.
Why then, would Israel’s Arab citizens de-legitimize their own nation in the streets and halls of the Israeli Knesset? Political correctness. In the west, political correctness equates to a public acceptance of a diversity of cultures. Diversity at its core represents a society’s willingness to accept other ways of viewing the world. In the Middle East, political correctness means the exact opposite; avoiding a public-shame that would surely be brought upon you and your family if you accepted a diversity of cultures, no less Jewish culture.
Seriously now Mr. Waters, could you imagine defending and sustaining a free nation under these conditions, no less remaining relatively light- hearted, productive and egalitarian? No, you couldn’t. Instead of de-legitimizing Israel and facilitating the illusion that Israel is the problem in the region, open your eyes and get real. You’re obviously a well-intended, intelligent man but when it comes to the Middle East, you aren’t mature enough in your understanding to come to an objective conclusion. Israel is the least of that region’s problems and it looks like some Arab nations are finally beginning to put aside all those archaic honor-codes and anti-Semitic biases and realize that. Since 1948, the Palestinians (publicly encouraged but rarely supported by the rest of the Arab world) are and always have been their own worst enemy.
Why not talk about the historically brutal Jordanian oppression of Palestinians, the Egyptians crack down on Gaza or the hellish conditions in the Palestinian camps of Lebanon and Syria right now? Why has no Arab nation granted Palestinians a place in their societies? Why won’t you criticize Jordan, Egypt, Syria or Lebanon for their treatment of innocent Palestinians? You won’t do that Mr. Waters because those are Arab nations and Israel is a Jewish nation. Let’s face facts Mr. Waters, this is what you are really saying; “Even after 5000 years of being murdered, tortured and raped by the rest of the human race, the Jewish people still do not deserve to be safe, secure and autonomous in their indigenous homeland.”
Go ahead Mr. Waters, ask the question that I know you are thinking, “Why have people hated Jews for the last five thousand years?” That’s the exact intellect that perpetuates thousands of years of anti-Semitism and is the root cause of the Arab/Israeli conflict. Claiming that traditional Arab prejudice dating back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad is the root cause of the conflict is an opinion that may not be accepted in London but sure as hell is the Allah’s honest truth in places like Gaza City and Ramallah. Take an objective look at what leaders of the Arab world say about Israel and Jews on a daily basis and I’m fairly sure you’ll be offended, if not sickened by what you hear.
I have news for you Mr. Waters. If Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and their supporters in the Arab world acknowledged and accepted Israel today, the era of peace would begin tomorrow and Israel would lead the way. Israel just happens to be the only safe, secure, prosperous and free 8,000 square miles within the five million square miles of the Middle East. Israel is a mirage of freedom in an otherwise brutal warrior world. I find it absurd that a person like you, whose identity is so closely tied to free speech, could support groups like Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad that torture, murder and imprison anyone the criticizes them in Palestine.
How do I know anything about Israel, you might ask Mr. Waters? I lived in the Middle East for over two years shooting an award winning documentary focused on how the natural world and music bring both Jews and Arabs together. During those two wonderful years, I was forced to come a few troubling realizations. Every Israeli I interviewed said something like this, “I don’t hate Arabs, I just don’t think there’s anyway to satisfy them, so we have to protect ourselves?” Every Palestinian I interviewed, said something like this, “The Zionist regime is occupation. It must be destroyed.” There is no place for Jews or Christians in the Middle East, and you must be aware Mr. Waters, that in the language of the Middle East, your support of the BDS movement is translated as, “You see! Eventually we will turn the Mediterranean Sea red with the blood of Jews!”
What is presented to you as innocent victims struggling for freedom, is in reality uncompromising cultural intollerance at a level so antiquated that is difficult for many westerners to comprehend. You must understand Mr. Waters that your dangerous assertion that every human being longs for freedom and protection under civil law is actually a product of western arrogance. With the exception of Israel, not one nation in the Middle East actually has or wants the freedoms and civil laws you demand for the Palestinians. For the love of truth and humankind, please stop viewing Israel in terms of your privileged life in London and start viewing it in the brutal terms of the Middle East. When the Palestinians and armies of the Arab world rejected the fair and equitable UN Partition in 1948 (much like the U.N. partition of India and Pakistan) by waging a total war of annihilation against the Jewish people that persists to this day, they left Israel with no other choice.
In closing Mr. Waters, I urge you to please put in the work to gain a more objective understanding of the complicated history and culture of the Israel/Arab conflict. The information that you are being fed is not only biased but is specifically designed to equally take advantage of both your western arrogance and compassion. If you truly believe that Israel’s measures to protect itself are cruel and unusual in terms of the Middle East, you need to drop everything, go incognito and see for yourself what life is like there. A celebrity visit to the Palestinian territories and some one-sided literature researched only to support your cause isn’t enough to gain the proper perspective. If you’re not willing to experience the intensity of the culture, by putting your own life on the line, be mature and intelligent enough to turn your passions back to what you do best, making music.
At any rate, Mr. Waters, I respect your music and also your passion and would love to sit down with you sometime and talk some more about our mutual experiences.
From one musician to another. All the best,