Roger Waters joins Alice Walker in plea to Alicia Keys not to play Israel

on 44 Comments
alicia keys 001
Alicia Keys (

Dear Alicia Keys

I read today Alice Walker’s eloquent and moving entreaty to you in her open letter.

It is hard to add anything except to implore you to follow all the links she has directed you to.

To introduce myself to you, I am a fellow musician, my name is Roger Waters, I used to be in a band called Pink Floyd, and, believe it or not, I still work.

I had reason last December to write a letter to Stevie Wonder to encourage him to withdraw from an engagement in LA. It was a Gala to raise funds for the Israeli Defense Force. I wasn’t the only one to write, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the great advocate of peace and reconciliation, was among many, many others who wrote as well. To Stevie’s great credit he withdrew.

We are all part of the same old story, nothing has changed since the bad old days of apartheid South Africa and Segregated America. We must stand united with all our brothers and sisters against racism, colonialism, segregation and apartheid.

roger waters
Roger Waters

 Please, Alicia, do not lend your name to give legitimacy to the Israeli government policies of illegal, apartheid, occupation of the homelands of the indigenous people of Palestine.

Others may try to persuade you that by playing in Israel you may magically effect some change; we know that this is not true, appeasement didn’t work with South Africa and it has not worked in Israel. I know I tried it ten years ago, things have only got worse.

I appeal to you to join the rising tide of resistance. Join the many millions of us in global civil society who stand together on the side of justice and peace for all humanity. “We shall overcome one day.”

With love and respect,

Roger Waters

(Waters’s letter is also posted at PACBI)

44 Responses

  1. Tzombo
    May 30, 2013, 12:35 pm

    The key she has on that necklace reminds me of the keys of the houses they had to abandon that many Palestinian refugees still wear.

    • Dutch
      May 30, 2013, 6:13 pm

      Wow, that is a good point Tzombo. I hope Ms. Keys will read it.

      Roger Waters: Thank you!

    • Annie Robbins
      May 30, 2013, 9:15 pm

      actually tzombo, it reminded me too. plus it’s a very attractive photo of her. there were many photos to choose from while drafting Waters’ “”Just Another Open Letter in The Wall” but i chose this one specifically hoping Keys would read this letter here on mondoweiss, and if she did she might learn keys are very important to Palestinians thru the choice of this photo of her.

      and i wonder if she knows they are not merely symbolic as many Palestinians have real keys the size of the one she is wearing around her neck, that fit real doors of real homes that were stolen from them. as i recall she chose her name as a symbol of her musicianship, her chosen name symbolizes her art (she is an accomplished pianist of course, “Cook” is the surname she was born with).

      so in case she is reading this thread. i wanted to share with her these photos of Palestinians and their keys celebrating 65th anniversary of the Nakba just this month.

      link to

      especially the boys marching. (scroll)

      anyway, thanks for noticing especially on the first comment. it makes the search for this photo worth the effort.

      maybe i will write her an open letter of my own to show her some of these keys, in case she doesn’t read this.

      or other people could tweet her @aliciakeys photos of palestinians and their keys.

      ps, i happen to know a fair amount about her because, like lots of people, i have been following her career for years. she’s an exceptional artist.

      • bintbiba
        May 31, 2013, 4:19 am

        annie, your integrity, hard work and diligence are greatly appreciated.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 31, 2013, 3:00 pm

        how sweet of you bintbiba. de nada, all this palestinian sumud i encounter is rubbing off on me. as martin says (includes great video):

        In the not too distant future Fun Town and every other town will be open to all of God’s children because we’re going to work for it.

        we just gotta keep on keeping on until everybody gets it. i hope alicia doesn’t play funtown.

  2. seafoid
    May 30, 2013, 1:08 pm

    I would have added that too many Israelis are comfortably numb . Doped out on idf cruelty.

  3. flyod
    May 30, 2013, 1:36 pm

    it all makes perfect sense’

    expressed in dollars and cents,
    pounds, shillings, and pence….

  4. pabelmont
    May 30, 2013, 2:21 pm

    Oh what a letter! He has won my heart — if I already agreed on principle I am now overwhelmed also with his feelings of brotherhood.

  5. eljay
    May 30, 2013, 2:50 pm

    We must stand united with all our brothers and sisters against racism, colonialism, segregation and apartheid.

    Please, Alicia, do not lend your name to give legitimacy to the Israeli government policies of illegal, apartheid, occupation of the homelands of the indigenous people of Palestine.

    Kudos once again, Mr. Waters.

  6. DICKERSON3870
    May 30, 2013, 4:18 pm

    RE: “Roger Waters joins Alice Walker in plea to Alicia Keys not to play Israel”

    THE HASBARIST SEZ: This is yet another example of “incitement against Israel”! ! !

    ● FACEBOOK – Alicia Keys: Don’t Be Fallin For Apartheid, Cancel Israel, Musician/Band · 1,066 likes
    TO LIKE – link to

  7. Dutch
    May 30, 2013, 6:19 pm

    Alicia Keys: Don’t Play Apartheid Israel on July 4, 2013 in Tel Aviv: Cancel Apartheid Israel Show

    link to

    Please spread the word.

  8. just
    May 30, 2013, 6:41 pm

    Mr. Waters– thank you for your humanity and for speaking with your conscience.

    (my respect for you has always been there for your awesome talent. It’s just grown by leaps and bounds as a fellow human!)

  9. Basilio
    May 30, 2013, 8:53 pm

    It’s unfortunate that stars have to make such decisions and get involved in the political actions of the state. However, people worried about the treatment of a certain people and see their abuse are pointing it out more and more, it appears. This is not how people should treat each other.

  10. Blownaway
    May 30, 2013, 10:28 pm

    I dont have a problem with artists performing in Israel…as long as they stipulate that Palestinians from Israel and the West Bank can buy tickets and attend

  11. Marco
    May 31, 2013, 12:24 am

    Alicia Keys is a talented singer, but she owes so much to prominent Zionists that I don’t see her boycotting Israel. Much of her social circle consists of pro-Israeli activists.

    It’s a sad statement. A progressive black musician will support Jewish apartheid, but there it is. That’s America in 2013.

  12. MRW
    May 31, 2013, 1:46 am

    This would be an interesting object lesson for the young if they only had the history.

    Watching Islamophobia grow in the past decade is probably how anti-semitism grew between 1923 -1933. Incrementally, with impunity. I wonder who was their Ann Coulter or Pamela Geller then.

    Watching how people are fearful for their careers, in terms of speaking up against it, undercuts all the palms on cheeks about how no one helped the poor Jews, how could they have done that, we would never have allowed that, etcetera.

    And now a young black female musician faced with the same condition that had to disappear in order for her career to flourish in this country will probably honor the same set of conditions that held her parents back (although she was raised only by her mother).

    Santayana, you were born too early; and Keys owes Clive Davis in her mind.

  13. Obsidian
    May 31, 2013, 3:38 am

    Would you allow Alicia to perform in the West Bank and not in Israel?

    • Ron Edwards
      May 31, 2013, 11:40 am

      Non sequitur with about the best “non” I’ve seen in a while. Weak!

      Let’s take a look, though, at your usual tactic: slipping in a lie under the pretense of a fair-and-square intellectual engagement. I’m talking about your word “allow.”

      That word doesn’t appear in Waters’ appeal, nor in Morrison’s which appeared here a day earlier. It doesn’t appear in the BDS strategy at all. That is because “allowing,” with its necessary corollary, “forbidding,” are not part of that strategy.

      Nice try. No bite. Back to the manual for you.

      If anyone here is so foolish as to try to meet Obidian’s sly question head-on, be aware that the whole point is to make you adopt “allowing” into your construct of BDS, so hasbarists can then attack it as a prior-restraint device.

  14. MRW
    May 31, 2013, 4:25 am

    We should be taking bets. Is she going to fold like a cheap amoral suit or does she have character?

    • Sumud
      May 31, 2013, 6:47 am

      I think she has character. Not sure if she will perform in Israel this time but she will come to BDS sooner rather than later. Stevie Wonder is the key – I know she has massive admiration for him, so his refusing to play in Israel will be significant.

      Keys and Stevie Wonder singing a bit of acapella “Higher Ground” at the Grammys to honour Coretta Scott King:

      link to

      Keys closes off saying she wants to always keep striving to reach higher ground… So now is her chance!

    • Ira Glunts
      May 31, 2013, 2:54 pm

      She is going to perform in Tel Aviv.

      link to

      Too bad.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 31, 2013, 3:07 pm

        Ms. Keys said on Friday: “I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show.”

        what about all the people who won’t be allowed permits to go to her show? maybe it doesn’t occur to her they don’t have the opportunity to ‘unify’.

      • yrn
        May 31, 2013, 3:41 pm

        She can always perform in Ramalah if she wants and if she will be accepted.
        But try to remember the issue with Leonard Cohen

        “Cohen, 74, decided to perform in Ramallah two days after his upcoming performance at the Ramat Gan Stadium near Tel Aviv in response to protests from the Palestine Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) National Committee – which had urged the singer to cancel his Israeli show – which was scheduled to conclude his world tour. (All 47,000 tickets to the Ramat Gan concert sold out in 19 hours.)

        The decision to cancel Cohen’s West Bank concert followed claims that the planned gig was a hollow attempt to “balance” performances.

        “Ramallah will not receive Cohen as long as he is intent on whitewashing Israel’s colonial apartheid regime by performing in Israel,” the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) said in a statement.”

        I guess you have the answer now.

      • eljay
        May 31, 2013, 4:10 pm

        She’s an artist. She wants to be popular and make money. Israel is an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist an supremacist state but, in the words of Mr. Waters (and others): “The show must go on.”

      • Cliff
        May 31, 2013, 4:25 pm


        couldnt both be possible? couldnt he have planned the ramallah concert as an empty gesture, precisely because some Palestinians would be opposed to it?

        if he was truly sincere, then i think that’s wonderful. but has he criticized the occupation before? you don’t have to be pro-BDS but what has his statements about the current situation been like?

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 31, 2013, 6:12 pm

        Cohen’s “solution” was the equivalent a performer adding a date in Warsaw after agreeing to play Munich in 1943.

      • Rusty Pipes
        May 31, 2013, 8:39 pm

        There is a lot of pressure in the entertainment industry to support Zionism or keep your mouth shut. Many entertainers are just avoiding Israel quietly, because there is still a price that they risk in not getting booked for gigs or roles by major players who have Zionist connections. Having made the commitment to perform, it would take a lot of courage for Keys to back out. Sadly, she’s not there yet. Maybe a visit to Funland will enlighten her.

      • yrn
        June 1, 2013, 4:18 am

        Or Mr. Pipes, People see the situation different then the few commenters here.
        There are more then 30 international performances in Israel each month.
        So…… it means that artist love to come to Israel and they see the situation completely different.
        All your looking for accuses are nonsense.
        If they want to come they come, there a many places in the world they can make money, Israel is a small venue, they can pick up another place, but they prefer to come to Israel again and again as they love performing in Israel.
        That the reality and that’s the fact.

      • yrn
        June 1, 2013, 4:20 am

        That’s the issue you don’t get.
        For you to be pro-Palestinian goes together with Criticizing the other side.
        And that’s the whole issue.
        He might be pro-Palestinian, but that’s not good enough for you.

      • Woody Tanaka
        May 31, 2013, 3:37 pm

        “She is going to perform in Tel Aviv.”

        Well, I’ll delete her off my iPod and not buy her work until she wises up. BDS must include those who support the status quo. She’s a good artist, hopefully she’ll wise up soon

  15. yrn
    May 31, 2013, 1:36 pm

    I don’t care if she performs in Israel or not, but Its time Water’s will get some brains.
    First he performed in Israel and Made his $$$$$
    and that’s the point !
    What was different at the times he performed, Israel was the same “Jewish apartheid state”, or was it not…… would love to hear his answer for that.
    Second I would love to see him cancel a performance after all the tickets of Million $$$$ has been sold and facing law suits from everyone and then giving others suggestion for something he did not have the balls to do.
    Another issue is comparing her pure commercial performance to Steve Wonder cancellation is more then stupid, Steve Wonder performed in Israel I saw his great show and he loved it, here he was asked to contribute and perform free for fund razing for the IDF and it’s more then legitimate to cancel, if he gets heavy pressure, I am sure he would cancel too, if it was fund razing for the Hamas and he got pressure from the other side, so comparing those issues just show the BDS way of thinking.
    And last there are more then 20-30 international performances a month in Israel with even more famous persona as Alicia Keys, so why did BDS jumped on her, because she is Black ??? or what other issues…..
    I guess she cannot cancel the show, because of commercial issues……. and the BDS is going to look like a bunch of fools if she dose not cancel because of commercial reasons and just put a nlack mark on Alicia, as who knows, maybe she would join you in other area’s, but at that point you are serving yourselves and no one else.
    Roger’s just said in an interview last month that he is going to reconsider his boycott on Israel.
    Rogers is a grown up person , he should make up his mind as he looks stupid already.

    • Woody Tanaka
      May 31, 2013, 3:39 pm

      Waters is smart. He finally realized the error of playing for Zionism’s Willing Executioners.

    • eljay
      May 31, 2013, 4:15 pm

      >> What was different at the times he performed, Israel was the same “Jewish apartheid state”, or was it not…… would love to hear his answer for that.

      The answer is simple: There was a time when perhaps he did not know what the supremacist “Jewish State” truly represented. Then he learned / learned more about it, and realized that the right thing to do was to advocate against its oppression, colonialism, illegality, immorality and supremacism.

      Rightly so, and well done.

      Unlike Mr. Waters, Zio-supremacists like yrneee and hophmeee know full well what their supremacist “Jewish State” is and what it does…and yet continue to support it fully. They choose of their own free will to remain mired in hatefulness and immorality.

      • yrn
        May 31, 2013, 4:38 pm


        You must be joking……. 2006

        Dear Mr. Waters,
        The Palestinian arts community received in disbelief the news of your upcoming performance in Tel Aviv in June, at a time when Israel continues unabated with its colonial and apartheid designs to further dispossess, oppress and ultimately ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their homeland. We strongly urge you to cancel your plans to perform in Israel until the time comes when it ends its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and respects the relevant precepts of international law concerning Palestinian rights to freedom, self-determination and equality.

        Upon learning of your planned tour, Palestinian as well as several international artists asked in shock: How can the artist whose name around the world was for many years associated with breaking walls of injustice be in any way complicit with the monstrosity of Israel’s Wall,

      • yrn
        May 31, 2013, 4:40 pm

        Did he CANCEL

        Well you no the answer…… $$$$ talks.

      • eljay
        June 1, 2013, 6:52 pm

        >> eljoke

        Yes, yrneee?

        >> You must be joking……. 2006

        No, I’m not joking……. 2013. I’m quite serious. Mr. Waters may not have known, but eventually he found out and learned to care. You, on the other hand, know full well but you simply don’t care. Worse, you defend and justify.

        Day in and day out, knowing full well what hateful and immoral Zio-supremacists like you think, believe and do, you defend and justify.

    • Shmuel
      May 31, 2013, 4:24 pm

      fund razing [sic!] for the IDF

      Great slogan for “Friends of the IDF”.

      • yrn
        May 31, 2013, 4:33 pm

        fund razing [sic!] for the Hamas
        Great slogan for “Friends of the Hamas”.

        You said it Not me.

      • MRW
        June 1, 2013, 4:40 am

        Varoom. That one went over your head, sucker.

    • kalithea
      May 31, 2013, 5:39 pm

      Hasbara bullshet.

  16. kalithea
    May 31, 2013, 5:50 pm

    Alicia Keys seems to have a double standard or money talks. If she didn’t heed Ms Walker’s plea and Waters had to second it; what will it take??? She’s got some deaf ear on her. First of all, if she were the person I thought she was in the first place; she never would have accepted this gig! She’s not deaf, dumb and blind people! She knows what Zionists are doing to the Palestinians; she didn’t just arrive from a hiatus on another planet where the news doesn’t reach; SHE DOESN’T CARE! It’s that simple! The money smells sweet and Palestinians are a cause she won’t touch!

    I will never see her in the same light again. Disgusting!

  17. farhan Alqam
    June 1, 2013, 2:01 am

    to Alicia Keys and to all with respect;
    I wish you just follow the link below, and watch the video.
    this video shows a group of Palestinian school girls, who were attacked by israeli settlers, while they are in a school trip inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories (West Bank), and see what was happened to them by the savage israeli settlers.
    the question is what is the threat, or the harm could those girls represent?
    please pay attention to words of “Roger Waters”:
    (I appeal to you to join the rising tide of resistance. Join the many millions of us in global civil society who stand together on the side of justice and peace for all humanity. “We shall overcome one day.”

    With love and respect,

    Roger Waters)

    listen to the sound of justice, humanity, and your own Conscience according to that and to the answer of the question above, take your decision

    many thanks
    link to

Leave a Reply