Roger Waters performs The Wall Live in Barcelona, 2011.
Pink Floyd superstar Roger Waters has criticized Israel’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper for distorting an interview he gave to its journalist Alon Hadar.
Waters also reiterated that Israel commits the “crime” of apartheid “clear and simple” against Palestinians.
“The measured, reasonable and humane conversation that Alon and I had … was intended as a way for me to communicate with my Israeli fans, to explain my position on Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), to break down Walls, and shed light on possible misunderstandings and our shared predicament,” Waters wrote in a note on his Facebook page.
Instead, Waters said, the interview “has been re-written as a combative, ill-natured, dog-fight,” filled with “distortions and untruths.”
“Both questions and answers were changed,” Waters wrote, “I can only assume to suit an editorial agenda.”
Addressed to fans in Israel, the Facebook note also appears in Hebrew.
Yediot Ahronot introduced Waters’ interview with the assertion that “There is no doubt that what he has to say is not easy for the Israeli ear, his worldview is very lenient on the Palestinian side while at the same time taking a hard line, at times unjustly according to many, with the Israeli side.”
The interview as published appears in the newspaper’s Hebrew edition, but an English translation has been published by the Institute for Middle East Understanding.
Waters also published a full transcript of his conversation with Hadar.
Setting record straight
A factual error cited by Waters is Yediot Ahronot’s claim that “he rushed to call every artist with plans to come to Israel to try to convince him not to come here.”
“It’s simply not so. I have never written to Elton John or Rihanna,” Waters responds in his Facebook note. “In fact, I have made no specific approach to anyone except Stevie Wonder, about an IDF fundraiser in Los Angeles, and Alicia Keys.”
Waters also acknowledges his recent “open letter to my Colleagues in Rock and Rolldeclaring my support for BDS and asking them as a group to join the movement” whose aim is “to encourage your government to change its colonial and apartheid policies.”
The open letter gained major international coverage after it was published by The Electronic Intifada.
Apartheid “pure and simple”
Waters shows he has a sophisticated understanding of the realities facing Palestinians, when responding to Hadar’s challenge over the use of the term “apartheid.” As the transcript of Waters’ response states:
But the fact is that there are different rules of law for Arabs and Jews. Completely different. In the occupied territories, Jews are governed under a civil law and have completely different rules in terms of their movement and so on and so forth … and the occupied people, the Palestinians and the Arabs, are under martial law. And it’s a completely different set of laws. They also have completely different sets of documents.
It’s just like the old pass laws in South Africa. It is apartheid. Clear and simple. If you go and look at the definition of what the crime of apartheid is, then it describes perfectly what’s going on in the West Bank. And not quite so perfectly, but also, Gaza, which is under siege, it’s completely surrounded. They have no freedom. When one race or ethnic group subjugates another race or ethnic group, to its power and control, that is the crime of apartheid.
Waters does not limit his criticism to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, noting that “It’s also going on in Israel itself. There are different laws depending on if you’re Jewish or if you’re Arab.”
An Israeli “de Klerk”
Waters said that the newspaper had agreed to send him the quotes it would use for advance approval but then ignored his input.
He cited as an example the answer he gave about what he would say to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that made reference to South Africa’s last apartheid president F.W. de Klerk.
The printed interview omitted the reference to de Klerk.
In his Facebook note, Waters elaborates on why he sees the point about de Klerk as important:
For anyone who may not know: F.W. de Klerk was the last white president of South Africa and is best known for brokering the end of apartheid, and supporting the transformation of South Africa into a multi-racial democracy by entering into the negotiations that resulted in all citizens, including the country’s black majority, having equal rights. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, along with Nelson Mandela, for his part in ending apartheid in South Africa. To be clear, I’m suggesting that Israel, like South Africa in the past, needs a leader who is prepared to negotiate a just and lasting peace based on equal rights.