By Ben Cohen/JNS.org
Back in 1976, when the
burgeoning punk movement began transforming the rock’n’roll landscapes of
London and New York, a young man named John Lydon scrawled the words “I
Hate…” on his Pink Floyd t-shirt. With this one stroke, Lydon, aka Johnny
Rotten, the lead singer of The Sex Pistols, demarcated the past from the
future: eschewing the lengthy and ponderous compositions of Floyd’s frontman,
Roger Waters, Rotten and his mates set about delivering sharp, angry tunes in a
compact three-minute format.
Almost 40 years later, popular
music has undergone numerous other transformations, but Rotten (who now calls
himself Lydon again) and Waters have remained polar opposites. And as Israelis know better than most, that’s
true both inside and outside the recording studio.
Back in 2010, Lydon rounded
on critics of his decision to play a gig in Tel Aviv by telling them, “I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab
country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won’t understand how anyone can
have a problem with how they (the Palestinians) are treated.”
By contrast, Waters–outwardly, a much
more refined and eloquent fellow–has firmly hitched himself to the movement
pressing for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against
Israel. Waters’s support for BDS is thought to be the reason that his scheduled
appearance at the 92nd Sreet Y in New York City was canceled back in April,
while more recently, he tussled with the Simon Wiesenthal Center over an
accusation of anti-Semitism that stemmed from a feature of his live show, in which
a Star of David is projected onto a flying inflatable pig.
In his response to the Wiesenthal
Center, Waters stridently denied that he was an anti-Semite, coming out with
the standard response that hating Zionism and hating Jews are completely
distinct. But a subsequent letter written in August to “My Colleagues in
Rock’n’Roll” –as you can see, his legendary pomposity remains unaltered–is
certain to revive the charge. This time, it’s hard to see how Waters can
wriggle around it.
The letter begins by citing another
British musician, the violinist Nigel
Kennedy, who slammed Israeli “apartheid” during a recent concert that was
recorded by the BBC. “Nothing unusual there you might think,” Waters wrote, “then
one Baroness Deech, (Nee Fraenkel) disputed the fact that Israel is an
apartheid state and prevailed upon the BBC to censor Kennedy’s performance by
removing his statement.”
Why did Waters think it necessary to
point out the maiden name of Baroness Ruth Deech, a noted academic and lawyer?
The answer’s obvious: before she was Deech, a name that resonates with English
respectability, she was Fraenkel, a name that sounds positively, well, Jewish.
And much as she might try to hide her origins, the intrepid Waters is
determined to out her, along with her nefarious Jewish–sorry, I mean, Zionist–agenda.
Sarcasm aside, this is anti-Semitism of
the ugliest, most primitive kind. Appropriately, Waters’s letter appeared first
on the website of the Electronic Intifada, a resolutely anti-Semitic U.S.-based
outfit …read more