Israeli paper misquoted Roger Waters, removing advice to Netanyahu to look for ‘Israeli de Klerk’

Israel/Palestine
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FW de Klerk, with Mandela

FW de Klerk, with Mandela

Roger Waters says that a leading Israeli newspaper misquoted him, removing his advice to Benjamin Netanyahu that he should look for the next F.W. de Klerk, the South African president who moved to end apartheid.

The published interview simply had the musician and activist telling Netanyahu to look for an Israeli “leader.”

Waters has released a transcript of his interview last month in Amsterdam with the Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth. Made from his own recording, the text includes this exchange with reporter Alon Hadar:

Interviewer: What would you like to say to the Israeli Prime Minister?
Waters: How can I say this with still being kind? It’s beginning to look… increasingly unlikely that you’re the leader that’s going to solve this problem. So, if you care, you should probably spend as much of your time as you can trying to find the Israeli de Klerk. You need to find a leader who is capable of negotiating a peace like de Klerk did in South Africa. And that is a hard man to find. That is what is necessary.

When Yedioth Ahronoth published the interview in its magazine, it translated it into Hebrew, and removed the reference to de Klerk, based on this English transcript (which we picked up in September):

Q. If you were to meet Benjamin Netanyahu, what message would you have for him?

“I’m trying to think of how to say what I want and still be nice. OK, I guess I’ll say ‘it’s starting to look more and more unlikely that you will be the one that will solve this problem, so if you really care, you need to dedicate as much of your time as possible trying to find the Israeli leader that can do it.'”

Waters has objected to the mistranslation. He says that a friendly interview was thoroughly distorted in publication to make it look to Israelis as if he were in a dogfight with the reporter over his support for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

[The interview] has been re-written as a combative, ill-natured, dog-fight. It appears, with all its distortions and untruths, to want to maintain the status quo, alienate me from my fans in Israel and retreat from any consideration of the position that all the peoples of the region deserve to live in peace and justice with equal rights for all under the same laws, irrespective of color, race or religion.

Here is the full text of Waters’s letter, which he published on Facebook, to the editor of Yedioth on Facebook. Here it is:

To the Editor

Dear Sir,

I do not read Hebrew so I have had to wait for a translation of the article your paper printed on Wednesday, 18th September, based upon an interview I did with Alon Hadar in Amsterdam the previous week.

Without wishing to fan the flames, I feel I owe it to my fans in Israel to correct the record on a number of points.

The article was a serious distortion of the actual interview I gave.

Both questions and answers were changed. I can only assume to suit an editorial agenda.

The measured, reasonable and humane conversation that Alon and I had in Amsterdam was intended as a way for me to communicate with my Israeli fans, to explain my position on Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), to break down Walls, and shed light on possible misunderstandings and our shared predicament. It has been re-written as a combative, ill-natured, dog-fight. It appears, with all its distortions and untruths, to want to maintain the status quo, alienate me from my fans in Israel and retreat from any consideration of the position that all the peoples of the region deserve to live in peace and justice with equal rights for all under the same laws, irrespective of color, race or religion. I have today received and studied a transcript of the interview I gave. The thing that is most strikingly different between the actual interview and what you printed in your magazine is that you have rewritten all the questions. It is very shoddy journalism to hold up to be real, what is in fact, a fabrication. I attach a link to the transcript at the end of this letter, should your readers and my Israeli fans wish to know what really happened, and what was really said.

As for the article itself, the editorial content is littered with misinformation. As you know, I have an agreement with your paper that I have copy approval of my quotes. When I finally got an English translation of the article, even though there was very little time before you went to press, I sat up half the night trying to correct some of the worst errors. You largely ignored my input.

I intend no pettiness or rancor, but will mention two specific untruths.  Firstly, the article claims that I am constantly contacting other musicians trying to persuade them not to perform in Israel.  It’s simply not so. I have never written to Elton John or Rihanna. In fact, I have made no specific approach to anyone except Stevie Wonder, about an IDF fundraiser in Los Angeles, and Alicia Keys. There is one other Englishman, but my letter to him was in confidence and will remain so. That’s it. To their credit, Elvis Costello, and many others, supported BDS before me.

It is true I have recently written an open letter to my Colleagues in Rock and Roll declaring my support for BDS and asking them as a group to join the movement. We are attempting peacefully, through BDS, to encourage your government to change its colonial and apartheid policies.

There are many other distortions and untruths.  I shall mention but one more of them. Alon asked me what I would like to say to Benjamin Netanyahu. In my reply I suggested, that based on his record, it seemed unlikely he would be the one to negotiate a just peace and that he might better spend his time looking for ‘The One,’ the one who might be Israel’s ‘de Klerk.’

For anyone who may not know: F.W. de Klerk was the last white president of South Africa and is best known for brokering the end of apartheid, and supporting the transformation of South Africa into a multi-racial democracy by entering into the negotiations that resulted in all citizens, including the country’s black majority, having equal rights. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, along with Nelson Mandela, for his part in ending apartheid in South Africa. To be clear, I’m suggesting that Israel, like South Africa in the past, needs a leader who is prepared to negotiate a just and lasting peace based on equal rights.

I attach a translation of this letter in Hebrew and here is a link to a transcript of the whole on-the-record conversation I had with Alon in Amsterdam.  http://rogerwaters.com/interview

With respect,

Yours truly,

Roger Waters

 

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