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Roger Waters tells France: ‘Supporters of BDS, attacked by your judiciary, have my unequivocal respect and love’

on 18 Comments

Two days ago we posted about the brave pushback in France against legislation that makes it a crime to advocate for boycott of Israel. We were then informed that Roger Waters had sent a letter to the French people, via a French news agency, on this very subject some weeks ago that has never been published. We are publishing it here. –Editors.

Mes Cher Citoyens,

Along with most thinking, feeling and compassionate members of global civil society, I deplore the occupation of Palestine and the subjugation of all of its non-Jewish peoples. The State of Israel’s anti-Palestinian discrimination since 1947/8 is unacceptable.

I am anti-racist, anti-colonialist, anti-war, anti-oppression, and anti- discrimination.

We the peoples of the rest of global civil society have always tipped our hat to you the French, for your embracing of the “Declaration des Droits des L’Hommes” in 1789. There always resided, we believed, in your collective beating heart, devoted as you were to the principles of Fraternity, Equality and Liberty, an attachment to the defense of the oppressed everywhere, meme hors de France!

Today I read to my horror that a court in your land has declared illegal a peaceful protest by BDS supporters against the policies of the current government of Israel, which are racist, oppressive and discriminatory, claiming that the protest itself is discrimination and imposing fines upon the peaceful protesters.

This is a sad day for France and for the French judiciary. To take such a stand against BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) for employing the same nonviolent tools that were used in India against the oppression of British rule in the mid-20th century, and by American protesters, both black and white, in the Jim Crow South of the USA, and also by both black and white protesters from all over the world in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa is a stain on the good name of The French Republic.


Why would your judiciary oppose it? A public outcry in your great country should demand a public inquiry into the legal grounds for bringing these complaints against BDS supporters. In any event, on a personal note, I should declare an interest. The supporters of BDS, who have been attacked by your judiciary, have my unequivocal support, respect and love.

Any man or woman who mans the barricades in support of our oppressed brothers and sisters in Palestine and Israel for that matter is my brother and sister.

This issue is not complicated, it is a matter of right and wrong, it is a matter of the correct or incorrect application of the law. The law should serve the oppressed not the oppressors. If your law protects the oppressors, the racists and the discriminators, and punishes the men and women of good heart who man the barricades of freedom, wherever those barricades may exist in our small planet, then your law is an ass.

With love and respect. Chers Citoyens

Roger Waters

Roger Waters
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18 Responses

  1. Liz
    Liz on January 28, 2016, 10:44 am

    It is incredible how much Roger Waters has stood up for what’s right. It’d be great if other musicians did the same.

    • niass2
      niass2 on January 28, 2016, 2:12 pm

      some have spoken, for a long time, nd said a lot, by not speaking at all.

  2. pabelmont
    pabelmont on January 28, 2016, 11:22 am

    Good letter. And isn’t it strange that in a democracy people could (or so I suppose, but who knows) make political statements calling for sanctions against Israel — but cannot make political/economic statements calling for a boycott of Israeli products.

    Charlie Hebdo was allowed to (and celebrated for) mocking Muhammad. “Free speech” they called it when he insulted (or intentionally published injurious words or pictures) all the world’s Muslims. No prosecution there! But BDS gets prosecuted.

    Frenchmen! stand up for free speech (but not only for the “free speech” of charlie Hebdo, celebrated by Netanyahu)! Man the barricades! Aux armes!

    • dfmz
      dfmz on January 28, 2016, 1:03 pm

      As Frenchman, I find the current state of the law regarding Israel nothing short of shameful, especially coming from a country that presents itself as a bastion of free speech when in reality, it really isn’t.

      The funny thing is, technically, boycotting products from the settlements should be legal as they are part of Palestine, not Israel, but between the very powerful French Jewish lobby and the fact that premie minister’s wife is Jewish, there’s no surprise that Israel is well protected from a legal perspective.

      Maybe this all boils down to the shameful behaviour of half of France during WWII, I don’t know, but allowing the former oppressed to become the oppressors isn’t advancing humanity or peace, not in my book at least.

      • pabelmont
        pabelmont on January 28, 2016, 3:32 pm

        dfmz: On most points, I agree, However: “The funny thing is, technically, boycotting products from the settlements should be legal as they are part of Palestine”

        Really? Its OK to boycott Palestine but not Israel? Or to boycott Israeli products made in Palestine? The law probably doesn’t designate a particular country which, alone, is protected (even if we all know it aims to protect only Israel).

      • Doubtom
        Doubtom on January 30, 2016, 3:05 am

        I can’t quite wrap my mind around the French accepting this sort of tyrannical behavior from their government. The jews are small in number but they manage to be everywhere that it counts. I don’t understand why denying the Holocaust should be a crime either. Won’t there always be those who doubt the numbers involved in the Holocaust regardless of whether they’re vocal or not? Is the French government attempting to program the French mind? Why doesn’t the French government pass a law against denying DeGaule’s wartime exploits? Should the United States outlaw denying our Civil War? How would that affect the reality of that event?

  3. niass2
    niass2 on January 28, 2016, 2:12 pm

    If the thunder don’t get ya then the lightning will.

  4. Dutch
    Dutch on January 28, 2016, 2:57 pm

    In case folks have missed it.

    Petition in support of the right to call for a boycott of Israeli goods in France

  5. John O
    John O on January 28, 2016, 3:31 pm

    How effective could such a law be? It might stop the government imposing sanctions on Israel. But how could it stop a pension fund from divesting on the grounds that they could get better returns on their investment by investing their money elsewhere? And there is no way such a law could stop me from looking at the country of origin on packaging and deciding to buy something else instead.

  6. ritchiesmum
    ritchiesmum on January 28, 2016, 4:04 pm

    Roger Waters is such a Giant among celebrities.

    BTW, France isn’t the only place that puts paid to Free Speech; everybody pls have a look at this:

    • Elizabeth Block
      Elizabeth Block on January 30, 2016, 10:47 am

      Yes. But I’m happy to say that York University told Mr Bronfman thanks for your support in the past, we’ll manage to live without it in the future.
      Stephen Harper would probably have liked to make it illegal to criticize Israel, though such a law would not have survived a Charter challenge. I’m delighted that Harper himself didn’t survive the last election.

  7. Pepou27
    Pepou27 on January 29, 2016, 9:53 am

    As a French citizen I thank you. No matter what our so-called “socialist” government decides, I will continue to actively support BDS because it is the ONLY decent action to take.

  8. John Donley
    John Donley on January 29, 2016, 12:08 pm

    The law that makes it illegal to advocate for the boycott of Israeli products and services is contrary to the tradition of free speech and civil protest that have been at the heart of French society for over two hundred years. Roger Waters impassioned plea for justice is wholly appropriate. However his ingrained sense of self-righteousness should be tempered with his knowledge of having plagiarized lyrics on “The Wall” and lying about it for over thirty-five years. Roger, please erase this black spot on your reputation. A mea culpa, either public or private, would be welcome.

  9. Maximus Decimus Meridius
    Maximus Decimus Meridius on January 29, 2016, 2:19 pm

    Didn’t France sign up for the EU sanctions on Russia? And didn’t it until very recently participate in the very harsh sanctions on Iran? So I simply do not see how you can possibly make a legal case against boycotting Israel.

    In any case, I don’t see how it can be effective. BDS is a grassroots movement. Nobody seriously expects the French state to enact sanctions against Israel (though it would be very nice) How is this ‘law’ going to stop individual citizens from refusing to buy Israeli oranges? And it seems to me that it has massive potential to backfire spectacularly. I’m not French but if I were, this would make me even more enthusiastic about BDS.

    So much for je suis Charlie.

  10. Elizabeth Block
    Elizabeth Block on January 30, 2016, 10:48 am

    France thinks they’re going to break a deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians? Really?

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