Roger Waters says he’s shunned on orders “from above”

Roger Waters says he won’t be deterred by attempts to silence him because of his support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

The former Pink Floyd bass player talked to RT’s Anya Parampil about the effort by a group of local politicians on New York’s Long Island to have his September performance at the Nassau Coliseum canceled because he backs BDS.

But so far free speech is prevailing. Last month, the lawyer for the Nassau Events Center, the company that has a 49-year lease to run the state-owned venue, affirmed that Waters’ opinions are protected speech.

Chief legal officer Jeffrey Gewirtz wrote that the company “respects the constitutionally guaranteed rights of all people and therefore intends the Coliseum – under its stewardship – to be a venue that respects the expression and exchange of a wide variety of ideas and viewpoints.”

The effort to target him, Waters noted, comes in the context of a bigger push by Israel lobby groups to silence support for Palestinian rights, particularly with the Israel Anti-Boycott Act which is currently before Congress.

Play Tel Aviv, endorse Israel

Waters also criticized Radiohead’s decision to play in Tel Aviv last month, despite appeals from Palestinians to the band and its frontman Thom Yorke to heed their call for a boycott.

Playing in Tel Aviv amounts to an endorsement of Israeli government policy, according to Waters.

“Spokespersons of that government have said how excited they are, that this is the best thing for their hasbara – which is their explaining to the rest of the world what a wonderful and precious democracy Israel is,” Waters said.

“And when they cross the picket line, they are making a public statement that they do endorse the policies of the government, whatever they say, because that is what will be reported in Israel.”

“That is why Radiohead have been so soundly criticized by anybody with progressive ideas about human rights,” Waters added.

“We’re living in 1984”

Asked why his views receive so little attention in mainstream media, Waters referred to what he hears from producers: “I’m told that they can’t answer that question but it comes from above.”

Waters said he was told this by a producer for PBS talk show host Charlie Rose.

“We’re living in 1984,” Waters said, referring to the George Orwell novel in which all dissenting views are erased. “In order to retain a position of power, you need to be really good at propaganda.”

He lamented that media are talking about distractions like “Russiagate” while the symbolic Doomsday Clock now stands at two-and-a-half minutes to midnight, indicating that the risk of a nuclear war is greater than ever.

Waters says too many people are not represented by contemporary politics: “They want there to be a society where they care for their brothers and sisters. And they would like that to extend beyond the borders of the United States.”

“All human beings deserve human and civil rights, including the Palestinians,” Waters said. “And we’re winning it. This is why they want to silence me, this is why they call me an anti-Semite and this why they don’t want me on Charlie Rose or Stephen Colbert, speaking.”

Watch the video above.

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Whenever they use their "antisemitism" or "Holocaust" card they are basically admitting to a lost cause because they don't have any fact-based, cogent arguments to prove the contrary of what Israel really is like: a genocidal apartheid state that is in many ways on a par with Nazi Germany, and in may ways surpasses former apartheid South Africa.

And blockheads like Yorke & his gang are just interested in the money, they do not care about the Palestinians nor about Israel for that matter, they have 1 principle only: an ever-rising bank account.

So, well done Roger Waters !!

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RT made a perceptive editorial choice by prefacing this interview with a brief note on Paul Robeson and the 1949 Peekskill riot. Not only does Roger Waters' current (non)treatment at the hands of media and government authorities remind us of Robeson's actual persecution, but the new cold war has seen the revival of many of the same tactics and charges propagated in Robeson's time. If today's Americans undertake to familiarize themselves with that period, they will comprehend their own situation with greater sense of urgency. They should realize that a state that means to subjugate all will commence with the targeting of minorities. This certainly includes opponents of Israeli apartheid, especially inasmuch as the Trump administration is actively pursuing a course of renewed segregation via dismantling of the civil rights division of the Department of Justice and many other such measures- demonstrating yet again the affinity between Israel and the American right. Both want the same kind of society, based on racial domination and militarized law enforcement.

Incidentally, the Peekskill riot occurred in Westchester County, currently in the news via a resolution passed recently in the county legislature opposing BDS. A stronger proposal requiring a pledge by businesses not to abide by the call for boycott was withdrawn in favor of this weaker measure. It was evidently felt that the Westchester County legislature might lack the constitutional authority to blacklist firms for failing to swear loyalty to Israel.

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the NY politician, Kopel, publicly calls Waters a "virulent anti-semite" and wants to shut down his concerts... isn't that called 'libel'?
Miami Beach politicians had similar colorful language and intentions ("no room for hate", etc).

will this collision of rhetoric & reality resolve itself legally at some point? if Israel wants to use US law to cement the concept that 'Jewishness' ('semitism') requires 'hate' (ethnic cleansing), and they do this in courts, won't it backfire?
Waters is right about what normal people want, and racism is a topic with a lot of visibility these days...

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Kudos to Roger Waters for doing the right thing and standing up for human rights!

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.