As of July 29, 2014, the IDF has slaughtered over 1,200 Palestinians in the Gaza strip, most of them innocent, over the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli hitchhikers a few weeks prior – a crime that should have been met with a demand for the perpetrators to face justice, not a three week air assault and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government makes no pretense of observing the most basic protocols of war: minimizing civilian deaths, proportionality, avoiding the targeting of third party non-combatants like the UN. There are a few voices, coming mainly from cultural and academic communities, who have found the courage to speak up. Their movement is growing. Artists and entertainers like Zayn Malik from the music group One Direction, Rihanna, Mia Farrow, John Cusack and Penelope Cruz along with Freedom4Palestine.org – a group that includes Chuck D from Public Enemy and Brian Eno- have all come out in support of Palestinian human rights.
Roger Waters, former Pink Floyd singer and bassist, has been a leader in the BDS movement against the Israeli government’s treatment of the Palestinians in the Gaza and West Bank for eight years. He’s written numerous open letters to fellow artists and musicians encouraging them not to perform in Israel as long as the government continues its blockade in Gaza, continues to build illegal settlements, ignore countless UN resolutions and brutally oppress the Palestinian people. His activism has not made him or his former band mate, Nick Mason, popular. Predictably, Water’s has been labeled anti-Semitic by the Anti-Defamation League and the Holocaust Educational Trust among others.
Along with musicians like Elvis Costello, the Pixies, Santana, and other public figures like authors Alice Walker, Naomi Klein and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Roger Water’s has taken part in a cultural boycott of Israel in an attempt to get the State to end its apartheid policies. He writes: “I deplore the policies of the Israeli government in the occupied territories and Gaza. They are immoral, inhuman and illegal. I will continue my non-violent protests as long as the government of Israel continues with these policies.”
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With Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow to murder many more innocents in a “lengthy campaign” in the coming months to eradicate Hamas’s system of tunnels (the only exits out of the open air prison camp that is Gaza), now may be a great time for the many artists that have up to now ignored Pink Floyd’s call for an Israeli boycott – the Rolling Stones and Elton John, the most prominent among them – to take a second look and find the courage to stand for human rights and dignity for all peoples. Tear down the wall.