by Hugh Fitzgerald
Roger Waters and Brian Eno are two British musicians who have become obsessed with the putative misdeeds of Israel, the “apartheid state” they love to hate. Waters, in particular, has become a fixture at so many anti-Israel protests online and offline, so many BDS events, so many discussions of how to prevent other musicians from performing in Israel, it’s a wonder he has any time left for his music. His most recent target was the Australian Nick Cave, who ignored the demands of Waters and Eno to stay away from Israel “while apartheid remains.” Cave recently gave a concert in Tel Aviv, and declared, no doubt with Waters and Eno in mind, that “I love Israel.”
Cave, visibly annoyed with their attempts to keep him from playing in Israel, went farther still. In a written response to Waters and Eno, he called the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions movement “cowardly and shameful. In fact, this is partly the reason I am playing Israel – not as support for any particular political entity but as a principled stand against those who wish to bully, shame and silence musicians. I don’t intend to engage in a detailed discussion as to how the boycott of Israel can be seen to be anti-Semitic at heart and, furthermore, does not work (rather, it risks further entrenching positions in Israel in opposition to those you support), but even the estimable Noam Chomsky considers the BDS as lacking legitimacy and inherently hypocritical. What we actually have here is a fundamental difference of opinion as to what the purpose of music is.”
Waters and Eno were not fazed. They are men possessed by the need to harm the Jewish state. Here they are on the warpath again, after having failed to change Nick Cave’s mind, in “Roger Waters Says Holocaust Guilt Stops Criticism of Israel, Brian Eno Blames Jewish State for Antisemitism on Panel,” by Shiryn Ghermezian, Algemeiner, March 17, 2021:
In a livestream panel discussion on March 15 British musicians Roger Waters and Brian Eno promoted the anti-Israel BDS movement and accused the Jewish state of “inspiring” antisemitism.
Eno, the second panelist to speak, began by claiming that Israel practices apartheid, and blamed its government for the spread of prejudice against Jews.
Eno claims that “Israel practices apartheid.” But he offers not a single example of this apartheid, because there aren’t any. Yet his statement passes, and no one else on the panel, or in the audience, takes issue with this grotesque charge..
“We have a right to say that this is not an issue to do with being Jewish or anything like that. It’s an issue of human rights,” he said.
Eno claims that Israel practices “apartheid.” Let’s see. In Israel, Arabs sit in the Knesset; the third largest political bloc in Israel’s parliament is the Arab Joint List. Arabs sit on the Supreme Court. Arabs go abroad to represent Israel as ambassadors. Arabs go to school with Jews. Arabs and Jews serve on the same university faculties. Arab and Jewish medical personnel work side-by-side in hospitals, caring for both Arab and Jewish patients. Arabs work with Jews in the same factories, farms, offices. The chairman of Israel’s Bank Leumi, the country’s largest bank, is Samer Haj-Yehia, an Arab, appointed two years ago. Arabs and Israelis play on the same sports teams and in the same orchestras, create and develop new businesses together in the Start-Up Nation. There is only one difference in the treatment of Arabs and Jews in Israel, and no one of sense would describe it as apartheid: unlike Jews, Arabs are not required to serve in the IDF. They may do so, if they wish, and Arab volunteers, especially Christian Arabs and Druze, have steadily increased in numbers.
How does any of that amount to “apartheid”?
“If anything is to inspire antisemitism, it’s this type of behavior by the Israeli government,”he [Eno] told viewers. “We are being called the enemy because we question what is happening in Palestine. That’s all you have to do to be called antisemitic.”
No. You are. being called antisemitic, Brian Eno, because you lie about Israel’s behavior (see “apartheid” above). You are being called antisemitic because you seek to demand of the Jewish state standards of behavior, in war and peace, that are demanded of no other country. You are being called antisemitic because you refuse to recognize that Israel has had to fight for its very existence in three major wars, and a half-dozen smaller ones. You are being called antisemitic because you refuse to recognize that Israel’s enemies wish to destroy her; her fight is, in the original sense of the word, an existential one. You are being called antisemitic because you charge Israel with deliberately killing children, a revival of the medieval claim that Jews killed Christian children, to use their blood in Passover wafers. You are being charged with antisemitism because you falsely claim that Israel targets civilians, when it is Israel’s enemies, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, that deliberately hide their weapons in, and launch attacks from, civilian buildings such as schools, hospitals, and apartment buildings, in order to increase their own civilian casualties, while Israel uses every possible means to minimize those same civilian casualties among its enemies, by providing them with advance warning of attacks — mass leafletting, telephoning, emailing, and practicing the “knock-on-the-roof” technique. You are being charged with antisemitism when you ignore the thousands of rockets and missiles that are hurled deliberately into civilian centers in Israel, and instead you calumniate the Israelis for responding to these attacks as any other people, similarly attacked, would. Colonel Richard Kemp, who commanded British forces in Afghanistan, and has fought in a half-dozen different theatres of war, observed the IDF in action in Gaza and concluded that Israel has “the most moral army in the world.”
Waters followed Eno by slamming what he called the “antisemitic smear sword wielded at the behest of the Israeli government” against former UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has been criticized by British Jewish [sic] and suspended by the party for promoting antisemitism.
A “smear sword”? No one in the U.K. was “wielding” a “smear sword” at the “behest of the Israeli government.” British Jews and non-Jews alike, including Sir Keir Starmer — Corbyn’s successor who has vowed to stamp out the antisemitism that ran rampant in the Labour Party when Corbyn was its leader — had finally had enough of Jeremy Corbyn’s endless attacks on Israel, and his honoring of terrorists. Corbyn even held a wreath, and bowed his head in homage, at the graves of Black September members at a cemetery in Tunis. These were the graves of men, remember, who had carried out the massacre of Israeli athletes taken hostage at the Munich Olympics. Corbyn has also met with representatives of the terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and described both groups as consisting of his “friends.” He even invited members of Hamas to Parliament to meet with British backers of the group, which remains committed to Israel’s destruction. Those who criticized Corbyn for his meetings with and praise for, Palestinian terrorists, both alive and dead, were not taking directions, as Waters claims, from Israel. They simply had kept what Waters and Eno have both lost — their moral compasses. It is reasonable to conclude that someone who characterizes as “friends” two groups — Hamas and Hezbollah — whose sole purpose is wiping out the only Jewish state, qualifies as an antisemite, and to describe him as such is not a “smear” but the unpalatable truth.
Earlier in the panel discussion, the former Pink Floyd frontman focused on the UK, France and US, claiming that they refuse to call Israel an “apartheid” state because it’s not economically and politically “convenient.” He also suggested that it’s impossible to speak the “truth” because of Holocaust guilt.
No, the US, the UK, and France refuse to call Israel an “apartheid” state because there is not a single bit of evidence has been produced to support that calumny. This has been discussed at greater length above, but bears abridged repetition. Arabs sit in the Knesset, serve on the Supreme Court, go abroad as senior diplomats; the chairman of Israel’s largest bank is an Arab; Arabs and Jews study together, work in factories, farms, and offices together, play on the same sports teams and orchestras, are treated in the same hospitals where Jewish and Arab medical personnel treat patients side by side. That is more than enough to disprove the “apartheid” smear. But unfortunately, it has to keep being repeated; Waters, Eno, and their ilk will continue to charge Israel with “apartheid” no matter what, but others, listening in, should be receptive to toe truth.
“Also we walk around with the enormous burden of the Holocaust on our shoulders,” Waters continued to say, “and it makes it impossible for us to speak the truth about Israel because we’re not allowed to, because we carry an enormous burden of guilt. So that’s why we don’t … There’s no freedom of speech in England. In England people are not allowed to speak about Israel.”
Roger Waters thinks the Holocaust is an “enormous burden” on him and so many others who just want to be free to “speak the truth” — i.e., vilify — Israel and Jews. Who says that only Jews suffered from the Holocaust? Roger Waters is a victim, too. He wants us not to overlook the mental anguish experienced by the millions of non-Jews who right now are afraid to speak their minds about Israel, all because of that Holocaust that happened so long ago. Can’t we all get over it, so that people such as Roger Waters can speak the truth about powerful Jews who work on behalf of Israel as the puppet-masters of the world?.
That, more or less, is the view, both absurd and insidious, of the pathologically hate-filled Roger Waters. Of course it’s a preposterous claim. The “enormous burden of the Holocaust” has not prevented the U.N. Human Rights Council from adopting far more resolutions that denounce Israel than it does denouncing all 192 of the other member states put together. The Holocaust has not prevented the U.N. General Assembly itself from passing more resolutions critical of Israel than for any other country. The “enormous burden of the Holocaust” has not prevented the BDS movement from spreading its tentacles across campuses in the U.S. and the U.K., where anti-Zionism has become the latest political fashion. The “enormous burden of the Holocaust” has not prevented the international left from expressing its solidarity with the “Palestinians” who are being so oppressed by the diabolical Israelis. Nowhere do we find critics of Israel silenced; it is those who defend Israel who find it so difficult to make their voices heard – on the BBC, on NPR, on the French Canal Cinq and the German Deutsche Welle. The anti-Israel brigade is out in force in the pages — both reports and editorials — in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Observer, and Le Monde.
The musician also spoke about the “hugely encouraging” success of the BDS movement, especially on college campuses, and said that anti-Israel activists have come a long way in being able to say the word “apartheid” more freely. He encouraged soccer teams and the sport’s major organizations to boycott Israel.
First Roger Waters complains that “the enormous burden of the Holocaust” silences critics of Israel, and in his next breath he contradicts himself, crowing over the splendid “success” of the BDS movement, and the ability of anti-Israel activists to now charge Israel with “apartheid.” Apparently all those BDSers and those who are busy labelling Israel “an apartheid state” have managed to slough off that factitious “enormous burden of the Holocaust” that Waters was complaining about.
“I don’t think it’s very far down the line that we’re going to stop playing soccer with Israel,” he said. “Every Saturday or Sunday, every player in the football league takes a knee … and it was in support of Black Lives Matter and now they’ve said it’s against racism. When you see anybody take a knee, they are taking a knee against Israeli apartheid and the sooner we ramp [sic] that home through UEFA and FIFA and the rest and stop playing soccer with them, the better.”
Waters dreams of the day when there is a sports boycott of Israel. But all of the efforts to create that so far have led nowhere. And when people “take a knee” against “racism,” that does not mean, as Walters claims, that they are demonstrating against Israel’s non-existent “racism.” Waters is going to have to stop mentioning “apartheid” in every second sentence. It is so easy to refute. Twice, above, I have presented the overwhelming evidence that such a charge is ludicrous. Waters must constantly be put on the spot, asked, at whatever forum or venue he appears, to provide even one example of “Israeli apartheid.” He won’t do it, because he can’t. Instead, Waters is likely to brazen his way through by offering a stream of invective and other false charges: “Everyone knows that the Jews have created, from top to bottom, an apartheid state. I don’t need to spell out the examples of apartheid. All you have to do is look. It’s obvious from the way Arabs are treated in Israel. I’ve heard the testimony of Palestinians. I’ve seen examples of the IDF’s barbarity on YouTube. I know the children of Gaza are being murdered every day. I’ve heard the cries of their mothers. I know, just as you do, about how wretchedly the Palestinians live, in the open-air prison of Gaza. Meanwhile, on the West Bank, that nasty little Sparta, Israel, gobbles up ever more of the stolen Palestinian land to build more of those colonial-settler homes that blot the landscape.”
Waters has repeatedly been denounced by leading Jewish groups for his antisemitic rhetoric. In June 2020, his comments that the US government was controlled by a wealthy Jewish “puppet master” were slammed as “the kind of intolerance that deserves zero tolerance” by Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
The story of a secret cabal of rich Jews who “pull the strings” is, along with the story of Passover wafers being prepared with the blood of Christian children murdered by Jews, one of the two most frequent antisemitic tropes; it’s been enshrined, of course, in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In Waters’ variant, he’s reduced the cabal to one rich Jew whom he refers to as the “puppet-master” pulling the strings of the U.S. government on behalf of Israel. It’s the same insidious narrative about rich Jews — usually bankers — controlling the world, that you can find in the Protocols, in Henry Ford’s antisemitic rag The Dearborn Independent, in the pages of Der Stürmer, and, of course, in Mein Kampf. That’s the company he keeps. Roger Waters must be very proud.
First published in Jihad Watch.