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Roger Waters urged Alan Parsons to get ‘insight’ at the apartheid wall (and drew ad hominem attack)

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We missed this, but it’s important. Ten days ago the Alan Parsons Project played Israel despite an appeal from Roger Waters, the legendary activist and Pink Floyd bassist, to stand up for Palestinian human rights by boycotting the country as artists had boycotted South Africa under apartheid.

The story was picked up by Rolling Stone, which described the musicians’ exchange as a “war of words.” And indeed, if you read the exchange below, it ends with an “ad hominem attack” by Parsons on Waters. It was also picked up by this rightwing site, which featured an interview arranged by the anti-boycott group Creative Community for Peace, in which Parsons said he was under a lot of pressure but that art has nothing to do with politics– and besides, his bassist is an Israeli:

Parsons: “Guy would have killed me [if I had decided to boycott]”

[Bassist Guy] Erez: If he doesn’t come and visit my country, we have a problem.

The story is important for Roger Waters’s passionate, forthright and respectful appeals despite the invective. He has become the ambassador of BDS for a reason. Below are excerpts from the postings on his Facebook page. Followed by statements from Alan Parsons.

Waters announced the dialogue in this manner:

I’ve been in email exchange with Alan Parsons, an English musician and recording artist, who was, coincidentally, an engineer at EMI when Pink Floyd made Dark Side of The Moon.  Alan has plans for The Alan Parsons Project to play a gig in Tel Aviv on February 10, 2015. I am an active supporter of BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), a non-violent global organization that seeks to promote a just solution to the disastrous Israel/Palestine impasse. I wrote to try to persuade Alan to stand with me and Nick Mason and Brian Eno and Elvis Costello and Massive Attack and Stephen Hawking and thousands of other artists world-wide who support a cultural and academic boycott of Israel to support all those brave Israelis and Palestinians who are resisting the Israeli occupation and anti-Palestinian discrimination.

Waters published his first letter to Parsons, in January. Excerpts:

Dear Alan,

It’s been 40 years since we worked on Dark Side of the Moon together. If you recall, I was the pimply bass player, you were the tall engineer. Congratulations on your many successes since then.

The reason for my letter today is that I see you have plans to do a gig in Tel Aviv in February. I am writing to ask you to reconsider those plans. I know you to be a talented and thoughtful man, so I assume you know of the plight of the Palestinians and that there is a growing nonviolent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement protesting against the abusive policies of the Israeli government…

While I know you don’t want to disappoint your fans by canceling this gig, you would be sending a powerful message to them and the world by doing so.  As with Sun City, more and more artists are standing up to say they will not perform in Israel until such time as their occupation ends and equal rights are extended to Palestinians.

I ask that you consider joining me, and hundreds of thousands of others, by lending your voice to a conversation that rejects violence, embraces international law, and helps the global community pursue a just peace for all the people of the Holy Land.

Advancing a better future for Palestinians and Israelis is a matter of fundamental importance to us all. As John Lennon observed, “Life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting my friend”. I would be happy to discuss all this with you further. More food for thought, here is the public statement Nick Mason and I issued last May referencing the similarities of this campaign to the Sun City boycott in South Africa.

Your colleague,

Roger Waters

Parsons replied, but asked Waters not to publish his reply. Waters then sent a second letter, which he also published:

Dear Alan,

I will honor your request not to publish your response to my letter, but note that your argument is similar to that of the few other musicians who have crossed the picket line to play in Israel.

Al Kilani family foto included in Waters's letter to Parsons

Al Kilani family foto included in Waters’s letter to Parsons

I regret that you have decided, for now at least, to stand with the minority of artists and academics who support the policies of the current Israeli government.But, by all means, let us continue our dialogue.

I, for my part, will be open and clear. My own decision to join BDS was formed by my experience in front of the Apartheid Wall that this and previous Israeli governments have built, and continue to build. Hopefully, should you visit the occupied territories, you will have a similar moment of insight.

I see from your bio that you played in Israel in 2010, a year after Operation Cast Lead, when you might have been forgiven for not knowing any better. Now, it is a year after Operation Protective Edge, when the al-Kilani family (see photograph accompanying this post) were killed. If we didn’t know before, we do now. If you go through with your visit maybe you will be as shaken as I was back in 2006/7.

By ignoring the boycott, you are turning your back on a beleaguered people who are desperately in need of your support. Even at this late hour, please reconsider.

Your colleague,

Roger Waters

After that letter, Parsons responded on Facebook:

Roger Waters honoured my request not to publish my reply to his first letter to me, but he failed to comply with my clearly stated desire that the whole matter of his ‘problem’ with my concert in Israel should remain private between the two of us. He has now pressed his case in two open letters on his Facebook page without any published defence from me. So in the circumstances, I have decided to make my (originally personal) reply to him public – see below. I will be making no further comment on this matter and thank all our Israeli fans in advance for their loyalty, support, and for attending our show in Tel Aviv.

Here is Parsons’s letter to Waters:

Dear Roger,

I appreciate your note and your passion.

However, this is a political matter and I am simply an artist. I create music, that is my raison d’être. Everyone – no matter where they reside, what religion they follow, or what ideology they aspire to – deserves to hear it if they so choose.

Music knows no borders, and neither do I.

Your colleague,

Alan

Parsons then posted a blogpost from an Israeli saying that Waters was projecting his “hatred” of Israel on to Parsons. Waters responded on Facebook:

It was with profound disappointment that I saw you posted this link on your Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/alanparsons/posts/10153127029387958

It is painful to see an important debate lowered to this level of unhelpful mudslinging. To be clear, despite this blogger’s claim, I do not hate Israel – or Israelis or Jews. Along with my many Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish, and Arab colleagues, I seek ways to make sense of the current deadly debacle and to encourage a solution that gives equal rights to all the peoples of these troubled lands. The end of the occupation, a primary aim of BDS, is generally acknowledged in the wider debate as a pre-requisite to any peaceful, just, and lasting solution.

Your resorting to posting ad hominem attacks against me from an obscure extremist website informs the conversation not at all and serves only to muddy the already muddy waters. I continue to hope that while in Israel you took the time to take a look at the Separation Wall – from both sides and to educate yourself further on the injustices Palestinians are routinely subjected to by Israeli military forces. I refer often to a just and lawful resolution of this conflict to the benefit of all the people of the“Holy Land” to provide an environment where all their children, regardless of race or religion, could prosper, equal under the law. I know you have stated that your last words were your final words on these subjects. So be it.  Those of us who still dare to dream of peace will continue the conversation without you. For us, “Not to talk is not an option”.

 

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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35 Responses

  1. amigo on February 20, 2015, 12:56 pm

    “Music knows no borders, and neither do I.” Parsons.

    He should have written , “Israel knows no borders and neither do I,” .

  2. just on February 20, 2015, 1:12 pm

    “The story is important for Roger Waters’s passionate, forthright and respectful appeals despite the invective. He has become the ambassador of BDS for a reason.”

    Very true. As is his wont, Roger Waters speaks, writes, and conducts himself like the true humanitarian, gentleman, and moral giant that he is.

    I think that’s true of BDS folks in general. Roger Waters makes a most excellent example of how to actually ‘be’ a supporter of BDS. The contrast between those opposed to BDS and those that support it remains stark.

    • bintbiba on February 20, 2015, 1:28 pm

      Excellent comment , ‘Just ” !

      You put it so perfectly. Thank you !

    • John Donley on February 22, 2015, 5:26 pm

      In any conflict there are good and moral people on both sides. Roger Waters does not live up to the standard required to act as spokesman for any organization that expects the voice of its members to be taken seriously. He is a plagarist and liar. He copied another’s verse while he was writing the lyrics for “The Wall”. This is evident on at least two of the songs from that album including “Young Lust” and “Comfortably Numb”. Peace and stability will emerge as leaders from both sides have the well being of everyone in greater Israel as the goal. Liars need not apply.

  3. just on February 20, 2015, 1:29 pm

    Fantastic video @ link!

    “This video, which I aim to publicize as much as possible through this blog post, has been produced as a part of a campaign to encourage SOAS (London’s School of Oriental and African Studies) to break its ties with Israeli academic institutions.

    Next week, 23-27 February, there will be a school-wide referendum in which students, academics and other staff members will vote on whether to boycott Israeli academic institutions and put pressure on SOAS to follow the BDS guidelines.

    For weeks we have been campaigning for a yes vote, organizing events, distributing flyers and posters to raise awareness about the complicity of Israeli academic institutions in the ongoing oppression and human rights violations of the Palestinian people.

    In this video we students aim to expose SOAS’s collaboration with Israeli academic institutions, such as Hebrew University, which are deeply tied to the Israeli military. We should not, as students and academics, let SOAS maintain these links in our name.”

    http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/shahd-abusalama/why-londons-soas-should-vote-sever-links-israeli-universities

    (Shahd Abusalama, 23, is a Palestinian artist, a blogger from Gaza, currently working on her MA in Media and the Middle East at Univerisity of London, SOAS. Being a daughter of a former Palestinian prisoner has been the primary source of inspiration for her work fighting injustice through her drawings and writings.)

    • Bornajoo on February 21, 2015, 12:47 pm

      Thanks for this link about soas Just

      (This is the university I did my degree as a mature student nearly 25 years ago. I very much hope that they get a majority vote in favour of Boycott. I have a feeling it will!)

      • just on February 21, 2015, 1:00 pm

        I have a good feeling about it as well, Bornajoo!

        Here’s an article with many links, and heaps of info:

        “The SOAS Students Union was the first UK students union to vote for and support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign launched in 2005 by Palestinian civil society organisations. For over 30 years, the SOAS Palestine Society has been one of the most active societies at SOAS. SOAS students have continuously supported the Palestinian struggle for liberation and decolonisation, with SOAS becoming one of the most active campuses in Britain.

        In response to the 2005 call, the SOAS Students Union voted to join, support, and campaign for the boycott of Israel. At the October Union General Meeting this academic year (2014/2015), SOAS students decided to escalate their support for BDS. A school-wide referendum has been called for to decide whether SOAS, as an academic institution, should follow the BDS guidelines and join an academic boycott of Israeli institutions and companies.

        THE REFERENDUM WILL BE TAKING PLACE AT SOAS IN THE LAST WEEK OF FEBRUARY (23rd-27th)

        The referendum will be open to ALL members of the SOAS community: students, academics, cleaners, security guards, caterers, faculty and support staff and management.

        The referendum will be asking all members of the SOAS community whether they think SOAS should fully join the BDS campaign and implement academic boycott following the PACBI guidelines (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel).”

        http://soasunion.org/news/article/6013/BDS-Referendum-at-SOAS/

      • bintbiba on February 21, 2015, 4:06 pm

        Just, Bornajoo….fingers crossed they will !!

  4. Walid on February 20, 2015, 2:29 pm

    Since this is about music, after Israel’s pals at ISIS burned 2000 historic books and manuscripts in Mosul a couple of weeks back simply because they did not mention Wahhabism, this week Israel’s pals at ISIS in Libya gathered all kinds of musical instruments and after having lashed the musicians that owned them, proceeded to burn the instruments to “purify” them.

    • Mayhem on February 22, 2015, 5:20 pm

      @walid, referring to Israel’s pals at ISIS is this a stupid misprint or have you decided to join the league of offensive commenters who resort to bullsh*t to make their case.

      • echinococcus on February 23, 2015, 2:43 am

        But surely even you must find it so strange that such an extreme nasty organization that commits mass murder allegedly for the purity of religion should be working together with Zionist infidels every step of the way.

      • JLewisDickerson on February 23, 2015, 10:52 am

        FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH, SEE: “UN Report Reveals How Israel is Coordinating with ISIS Militants Inside Syria”http://21stcenturywire.com/2015/02/19/un-report-reveals-how-israel-is-coordinating-with-isis-militants-inside-syria/

      • Walid on February 23, 2015, 12:07 pm

        JLD, thanks for answering Mayhem on my behalf. Believe me I get no satisfaction of referring to ISIS as Israel’s pals, one is just as despicable as the other and maybe why they are pals. As I have been repeating it here, what is written in the 21st Century Wire article may be news or at worst a conspiracy theory for westerners but for the rest of the world not subject to censure on these matters, it’s common knowledge which parties are in bed with ISIS.Think about it for a minute, which super huge American or European corporation can take delivery of thousands of brand new white pick up trucks at the same time? The answer is none. Which other terrorist organization is allowed to freely sell its pirated oil on the market and how was it that of the 2 first ISIS supplied oil- tankers leaving the Turkish port of Ceyhan, the first went to Israel and the second to Houston?

      • Mooser on February 23, 2015, 2:05 pm

        ” the league of offensive commenters”

        Internet Superheroes! Pledged to destroy Israel with their super-powers, repartee and persiflage!

      • Mayhem on February 28, 2015, 8:56 am

        For obvious reasons (like to demean Israel at every opportunity) many are deliberately misleading by mixing “Rebels” with Jihadists like ISIS.

        Rebels include those who defected from SAA army + local militia, and fighting their own government. Hence term “Rebel”.

        Jihadist like ISIS / Al Qaeda / Al Nusra, have a different agenda are mostly foreigners and the one referred to as terrorists by the west.

        So Jihadist and FSA (aka Rebels) are not the same group. Syria is a 4 way war and so many are confused, but some like Walid like to confuse deliberately to push their mossad / cia conspiracy theories.

      • JLewisDickerson on March 2, 2015, 7:14 pm

        P.S. ALSO SEE:
        “Israel Working With Al-Qaeda?”, by Jim Lobe, Feb 28, 2015
        LINK – http://www.lobelog.com/israel-working-with-al-qaeda/

      • JLewisDickerson on March 4, 2015, 5:45 pm

        P.P.S. AND SEE: “Why Did Israel Decide to Support Syrian Rebels?”, by Jacky Hugi, Feb. 27, 2015
        LINK – http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/02/27/why-did-israel-decide-to-support-syrian-rebels

      • JLewisDickerson on March 7, 2015, 10:17 pm

        P.P.P.S. AND SEE: “Iranian Media Reports on IDF-Islamist Collaboration in Golan”, by Richard Silverstein, 3/07/15
        The IDF-al Nusra collaboration is the region’s worst-kept secret: the IDF has made an alliance of convenience with al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, al-Nusra.
        LINK – http://www.richardsilverstein.com/2015/03/07/iranian-media-reports-on-idf-islamist-collaboration-in-golan/

      • JLewisDickerson on March 13, 2015, 3:27 am

        P.P.P.P.S. AND SEE: Al Qaeda a Lesser Evil? Syria War Pulls U.S., Israel Apart, By Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2015
        LINK – http://www.wsj.com/articles/al-qaeda-a-lesser-evil-syria-war-pulls-u-s-israel-apart-1426169708

      • JLewisDickerson on March 16, 2015, 2:49 am

        P.P.P.P.P.S. AND SEE: “Bin Laden and Bibi, Together At Last; Israel’s alliance with al-Qaeda”, by Justin Raimondo, Antiwar.com, March 16, 2015
        LINK – http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2015/03/15/bin-laden-and-bibi-together-at-last/

  5. Blownaway on February 20, 2015, 3:01 pm

    How lovely that all Alan parsons wants to do is have people hear his music no matter where they reside or what religion they are. They all deserve to hear his music… Oh yeah unless they live in the occupied Palestine then they can’t go! No matter what their ideology or their religion or where they live they can’t h. Doesn’t this ignoramus see that he’s violating his own so called principles?

  6. a blah chick on February 20, 2015, 3:18 pm

    So, according to Alan Parsons he played Israel because he didn’t want to upset his Israeli bassist and anyway art should not be political. Does this mean that if he had a Palestinian bassist he would have gone to Ramallah? I doubt it.

    Parsons sounds like the guy who wants to go to the beach but doesn’t want to get wet or get sand in his clothes. Chances are one or both of those things is going to happen. By playing in Israel he has already involved himself in the conflict because the government there will use his appearance, whether he likes it or not, in their propaganda war. And he has taken a side whether he likes it or not.

  7. JLewisDickerson on February 20, 2015, 3:43 pm

    RE: ” [T]his is a political matter and I am simply an artist.” ~ Alan Parsons

    MY COMMENT:

    If I had a mind to
    I wouldn’t want to think like you
    And if I had time to
    I wouldn’t want to talk to you

    I don’t care
    What you do
    I wouldn’t want to be like you

    If I was high class
    I wouldn’t need a buck to pass
    And if I was a fall guy
    I wouldn’t need no alibi

    I don’t care
    What you do
    I wouldn’t want to be like you

    Back on the bottom line
    Diggin’ for a lousy dime
    If I hit a mother lode
    I’d cover anything that showed

    I don’t care
    What you do
    I wouldn’t want to be like you

    ■ VIDEO: The Alan Parson Project – I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You


    • JLewisDickerson on February 20, 2015, 4:11 pm

      P.S. “I Only Ask Of God”

      I only ask of God
      He won’t let me be indifferent to the suffering
      That the very dried up death doesn’t find me
      Empty and without having given my everything

      I only ask of God
      He won’t let me be indifferent to the wars
      It is a big monster which treads hard
      On the poor innocence of people
      It is a big monster which treads hard
      On the poor innocence of people . . .

      ■ VIDEO: I Only Ask Of God (Video Official) – Outlandish “Con Letra”

      LYRICS – http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/outlandish/ionlyaskofgod.html

      Outlandish
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      [EXCERPT] Outlandish is a hip-hop music group based in Denmark. Formed in 1997, it consists of Isam Bachiri (born in Denmark and of Moroccan background), Waqas Ali Qadri (born in Denmark and of Pakistani background), and Lenny Martinez (born in Honduras and of Cuban and Honduran descent). All three members are religious, with Isam and Waqas being Muslims and Lenny being Catholic. . .

      SOURCE – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outlandish

    • JLewisDickerson on February 20, 2015, 4:19 pm

      P.P.S. VIDEO: ■ Solo le Pido a Dios (I Only Ask Of God) – Gabriel Meyer Halevy (an Argentine-Israeli musician) – The Human Project

      Gabriel Meyer Halevy – http://www.gabrielmeyerhalevy.com/en/home

      Gabriel Meyer Halevy | Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/gabrielmeyerhalevy

      The Human Project – http://www.thehumanproject.us/

      The Human Project | Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/thehumanprojectuk

  8. ckg on February 20, 2015, 3:47 pm

    Like Palestinians trying to go to a Madonna concert

    • artI on March 10, 2015, 9:54 am

      Would he have any better luck seeing Madonna in Jordan or Egypt?

  9. CigarGod on February 21, 2015, 8:33 am

    Hey Bro,
    I just want to play my gig, get my check…and get safely thru customs.

  10. Bornajoo on February 21, 2015, 12:26 pm

    Well so far my resonance with certain artists have proven to be real. Roger waters and nick mason were influential musicians in my life and as people their world view and politics are spot on. I can’t stand Alan Parsons’ music so no surprise as to his world view and politics! (although he is a talented producer)

    Yes I know it’s not that simple but so far it’s 100% spot on so far!

    He said music doesn’t have borders but doesn’t this unprincipled dick head realise that there is a huge separation wall preventing the Palestinians from coming to his gig? And by the time the others made it through the checkpoints (if they managed to get the necessary permits), he’ll already be on the plane home

    Roger waters is a top man!

  11. John Salisbury on February 21, 2015, 12:42 pm

    Neil Young famously intoned that only love can break your heart…He and Alan Parsons are getting pretty close to breaking mine.

  12. Citizen on February 22, 2015, 6:32 am

    This Israeli musician (living in Germany) says Parsons is 99% right on the issue: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Why-Alan-Parsons-is-99-percent-correct-391119

    Odd, he doesn’t mention the wall.

  13. John Donley on February 22, 2015, 5:45 pm

    High and mighty waters
    Far above the crowd
    They exalt your brilliance
    Even admire your aloofness
    The genius need his space
    To sift through other’s words
    And transcribe them as his own

    None dare challenge him
    His rep is far too strong
    He’ll curse you as a liar
    And incite the horde to scorn
    Thirty years have passed
    Since the scene of the crime
    Of plagarism on the wall

    Who’s pink where’s pink
    What happened to pink
    Is there really a pink
    Roger’d like to end the story
    But he hasn’t any input

    Explain to us o roger
    The thoughts behind the concept
    How comfortable is the feeling
    Of pink becoming numb
    Tell us what it is you lost
    During years of being dumb
    That thirty years later
    Is too much to overcome

    Roger’d like to end the story
    But he hasn’t any input
    Jen could go and get His notes
    And tell Him they’re no good
    Sail again the polish line
    From leonard cohen’s town
    And resurrect our mr pink
    To laugh and tear Him down

  14. Mooser on February 23, 2015, 2:11 pm

    Here you go John Donely:

    here’s one.

    and: another

    that should give you enough material for your suit.

    Oh gosh, Johm Donely there’s hours of Pink Floyd documentaries! Everything you need should be there.

    Oh, BTW, what should that be “sung to the tune of”? Or is it just straight iambic slanderameter?

    • John Donley on February 24, 2015, 6:40 pm

      Look at the lyrics of “Young lust before the first phone ring. Word, line and verse copied verbatim.
      Half of “Comfortably Numb” is written by someone else. These first person sections do not fit with Roger’s story telling style. They were given to him by a woman named Jennifer Schroeder in the summer of 1977 after she left the U.S. for the U.K. She was all she had when she left her f’ed up lover whom she had met in a visiting room of the prison work farm outside Chania, Crete in November, 1976. Recently released prisoners often struggle with thier identity and relationships for at least a little while, some never readjust. It’s nice that Roger has such blindly loyal supporters, but watching what Roger says during an interview does not qualify you as an arbiter of what is real and what is a lie. Thank you for replying anyway; a high school English teacher should be able to distinguish pace and structure of these lyrics,

  15. edwardm on February 23, 2015, 2:21 pm

    Waters may be high and mighty
    Parsons is as thick as a brick
    Enigmatic oceans ultimately carve away
    The stones
    Of ignorance and lies
    Time
    Flowing like a river
    Will only reveal who stood on the right side
    Of truth and justice
    And sadly, that will not be Alan the knob-twiddler
    Waters
    He is high and mighty
    Only because he is a gentle giant
    He stood tall and dared
    To meddle
    Because, like Rachel
    He cared
    Mighty Waters!
    Nothing stops the river as it flows
    Nothing stops the rising of the tide
    Justice for Palestine!
    Justice for Palestine!
    Justice for Palestine!

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