Friday 18 March 2011

Roger Waters’ thoughts controlled

In the week that five members of the Jewish Fogel family were slaughtered in their own home, Britain’s most prominent Christian Palestinianist blogger chooses to focus on Roger Water’s opposition to the “inhumane barrier".

In a "Comment is Free" column in The Guardian, the Pink Floyd frontman tells how in 1980 Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 was banned by the South African government. “That apartheid government”, says Waters, “imposed a cultural blockade, so to speak, on certain songs, including mine.” Note the wording: “That apartheid government …”, a clear implication that Israel is another apartheid regime”.

Has it not occurred to Waters that Israel has never banned any Pink Floyd albums or any of his songs? Indeed, Waters was invited to perform in Tel Aviv to non-segregated audiences. He pulled out because a movement “advocating an academic and cultural boycott of Israel” urged him to reconsider. He thereupon cancelled his Tel Aviv gig and moved it to Neve Shalom which, incidentally, is a town in Israel situated between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

“Sadly”, says Waters, “the Israeli government has made no attempt to implement legislation that would grant rights to Israeli Arabs equal to those enjoyed by Israeli Jews.” Waters ought to have spent some time talking to Arabs in Israel rather than exclusively to those in the Palestinian authority who have an axe to grind. Three weeks ago, I had lunch with the Arab pastor of a Messianic Jewish congregation in Haifa who told me that he enjoys the same rights as any Jewish citizen.

But it gets worse. Walters speaks of the citizens of Gaza being “locked in a virtual prison behind the wall of Israel's illegal blockade … children go to sleep hungry, many chronically malnourished.”

Has Waters been to Gaza lately?

Some of Gaza’s children may indeed go to sleep hungry but that is not due to an Israeli blockade. Gaza has well stocked supermarkets, shopping malls, gourmet restaurants and an Olympic size swimming pool (see the photos at Tom Gross’ website). If Gaza’s children are malnourished, the fault lies with the Hamas government, not Israel. It is ironic that the Guardian chose to publish Roger Waters denouncing the “illegal” Israeli blockade in a week when a ship full of weapons from Iran was captured by the Israeli navy and when members of a Jewish family were butchered in their beds. Does Israel have no right to protect its own citizens?

In Waters’ view, “fair-minded people around the world” should join the campaign of Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions against Israel “until the day comes – and it surely will come – when the wall of occupation falls and Palestinians live alongside Israelis in the peace, freedom, justice and dignity that they all deserve.”

The security wall (not the "exclusion" or "apartheid" wall), more accurately, the security fence, could come down next week if the Palestinian Authority gave Israel a bona fide assurance that they would do all in their power to prevent terrorists crossing the border to murder Israeli citizens. Israel is a small country with neighbours who have repeatedly attacked her. About 70 percent of Israel’s population and 80 percent of its industrial base are situated in the narrow coastal plain between the disputed territories of the West Bank and the Mediterranean Sea. Over and over, Palestinian Arabs have crossed into Israel to kill and injure civilians, including innocent women, children and old people. Over and over, Israeli drivers have been shot by snipers from vantage points in Palestinian Arab villages. Some Arab villages in the West Bank are just hundreds of feet from Israeli roads and centres of population.

The route of the fence follows the route of the “Green Line”, the truce lines left over from the 1948 war of independence. In some places, the fence deviates from that line in order to enclose areas of Jewish towns that are east of the line, especially around Ariel in the narrow waist of central Israel. A map of Israel shows Ariel’s strategic location 12 miles inside the West Bank and opposite Israel’s narrowest and most heavily populated waist line. In that area the distance from the Green Line to the Mediterranean is a mere ten miles.

Of course the security fence has caused hardship for some Palestinian Arabs. For some, it limits their employment opportunities in Israel. For others it splits farms or separates farm land from the owner’s home. But these are all problems brought about by terrorist activities that are widely supported by Palestinian Arabs.

The Palestinian Arabs have referred to the barrier as a “land grab”, outraged that construction around Jewish settlements does not follow the Green Line. The fence is not a political border and its status is open for negotiation if there is ever a stable, trusted government among the Palestinian Arabs. Meanwhile, the project has the overwhelming support of the Israeli public which sees the barrier as vital to their security.

I do not doubt the sincerity of Roger Waters. If he knew as much about the Israel/Palestine situation as he does about playing the guitar, his "Comment is Free" piece might be worth our attention. He records in his Guardian article that he impotently scrawled on the Security Wall: “We don’t need no thought control”. He might as well have written, equally impotently: “We don’t need no education”.


  1. Mike - I hope we can all recognise the tragedy that has befallen the Fogel family and offer our sorrow. But I hope also we can recognise the humanity of all sides in this conflict and as Christians work for peace, justice and reconcilliation so that similar tragedies do not happen again. Both sides have suffered loss in this conflict.

  2. Thanks Andrew.
    I'n not sure what you mean when you say you "hope we can recognise the humanity of all sides in this conflict".
    The murder of children in their beds is not a "tragedy", it is a heinous crime. As my latest blog shows, there appears to be no genuine remorse on the part of the Palestinian media.