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Roger Waters warns Paul Bronfman that young Jews are unmoved by his ‘economic muscle’ and ‘bullying’

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This letter from Roger Waters was published a week ago by the York University Graduate Students Association in response to a dramatic mural at the York Student Centre. We felt it important to post it nonetheless. In light of the fact that the president of the school, Mamdouh Shoukri, has called the mural “offensive” to Jews and leaned on the students who control the building to take appropriate action; in light of the support for the mural voiced by 100 present and former faculty members; in view of the pressure being exerted by donor/media executive Paul Bronfman in an open letter, to withdraw “thousands of dollars” of support to the school because of the image, which he says is “pure hate”; in view of Steven Salaita’s piece on the case at EI, saying that Zionist pressure does not represent the Jewish community. –Editors.

Roger Waters 9th February 2016.

New York.

To The Editor

Re the mural depicting a bulldozer and a protester that hangs on a staircase at York University. Paul Bronfman, who is trying to use his economic muscle to effect the removal of this painting should note the following.

1.    The figure in the foreground appears to be a protester considering throwing a stone or stones at a bulldozer about to destroy an olive tree. The protester may be Palestinian. If the scene depicted is anywhere in the territories occupied since 1967, this person has a legal and moral right, under the terms of article 4 of the Geneva conventions to resist the occupation of his homeland.

2.    There is absolutely no indication that this person is a “Terrorist”. What ever that means? As we all know the word “Terrorist” has become a noun devoid of meaning. If it’s us, the good guys, we’re just defending ourselves and anything goes, if it’s them, the bad guys, they are “Terrorists”. One could if one wished suggest the routine demolition of homes and olive trees is a “Terrorist” tactic.

3.    Protesting the Israeli occupation is not “Anti Semitic” It is a moral duty. Happily York University students and faculty members seem to recognize that protest is ok, and that freedom of speech is a fundamental right and not for sale to the likes of you.

4.    The painting in question contains in its text the words “Justice” and “Peace”. I have no doubt that if the Palestinian people were to attain “Justice” under the law, there would be “Peace” in the Holy land.

5.    In your attack, I note the word “Hate”.

6.    I applaud the student body and faculty of York University for standing up to your bullying tactics.

7.    Opinion in the Jewish community in the USA, and especially among young Jewish people, is turning away from the “Hatred” and “Bigotry” of hardline entrenched positions like yours, towards the dialogue and understanding espoused by groups like “Jewish Voice For Peace.”

8.    The Tide Is Turning.


Roger Waters

PS. Please pass my support on to the student body.

Mondoweiss Editors

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12 Responses

  1. Kathleen on February 19, 2016, 7:19 am

    Roger Waters a brave humanitarian,

  2. RockyMissouri on February 19, 2016, 12:17 pm

    Makes my heart swell with love and compassion….and SOLIDARITY.

    Thank you, everyone at Mondoweiss, for giving them an eloquent voice.

    The tide is definitely turning.

    • truthurts on February 19, 2016, 3:17 pm

      The tide is definitely turning.
      i wouldnt hold my breathe

    • MRW on February 19, 2016, 11:45 pm

      The tide is not turning. Not yet. It’s just churning.

      • Mooser on February 21, 2016, 12:04 pm

        “The tide is not turning. Not yet. It’s just churning.”

        I hope it works out. I would be devastated if it turned into a battle of wills between the generations.

  3. kalithea on February 19, 2016, 10:20 pm

    So Bronfman’s got his shorts in a bunch over this? Go suck a lemon!

    Roger Waters: doing God’s work. Bronfman: zilch!

  4. John O on February 20, 2016, 3:39 am

    Today’s (UK) Independent has an interview with Roger Waters about his activism:

    “The only response to BDS is that it is anti-Semitic,” Waters told The Independent, in his first major UK interview about his commitment to Israeli activism. “I know this because I have been accused of being a Nazi and an anti-Semite for the past 10 years.

    “My industry has been particularly recalcitrant in even raising a voice [against Israel]. There’s me and Elvis Costello, Brian Eno, Manic Street Preachers, one or two others, but there’s nobody in the United States where I live. I’ve talked to a lot of them, and they are scared s***less.”

    • just on February 20, 2016, 7:32 pm

      Speaking of being “scared s***less.”, Gideon Levy has an interesting perspective and is spot- on, as usual:

      “Germany Isn’t Helping Israel by Ignoring the Occupation

      Chancellor Angela Merkel is fearless on many issues, but has proved a coward when it comes to confronting Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

      Thank you, Chancellor Angela Merkel, for proving once again that the Israeli occupation can always depend on you: Germany will never stand in Israel’s way, nor even raise any obstacles. It will continue to finance and arm it, because Germany is in Israel’s back pocket. “Now might not be the time for big steps,” she said on Tuesday, to the delight of her guest, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

      The two-state solution was once again postponed indefinitely. Low-cost, second-strike submarines – yes; steps toward peace – no. Not even tiny steps toward democracy: Netanyahu will not accede to the request of the Iron Lady from Berlin to scrap the “transparency bill” that requires NGOs to disclose major funding from abroad. Israel likes to get submarines but does not like to pay for them, not even with a gesture of thanks. Merkel will once again say it’s rain, not spit. Europe might be terrified of her, but she is terrified of Israel.

      Germany has a heavy historical debt to the Jewish people. It also has a heavy, indirect debt to the Palestinian people, on the ruins of whose land Israel was built following the Holocaust. When Merkel absolves Netanyahu of immediate responsibility to end the occupation, she shirks her obligation to Israel. When she tells the Palestinians they must continue to live under Israeli tyranny, she shirks her responsibility to the Palestinians.

      Merkel has proved herself to be a stateswoman of great stature. She welcomed the waves of refugees to Europe last summer with courageous, humane decisions. She is Europe’s moral force. But when it comes to Israel, her stature diminishes. Her comment that this is not the time for big steps was almost an echo of another small statesman, opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog … .

      When does the chancellor think the time will come? In a year? In 50 years? And what does she think will change to make “big steps” possible? Will Israel one day voluntarily give up the occupation of its own free will? Will the Palestinians give up their rights? Their struggle? And how can the Palestinians be asked to continue living under the occupation?

      Meanwhile, Israel just continues to destroy more and more Palestinian homes, and build more and more Jewish homes in the territories. Israel is becoming ever more nationalistic and right-wing, and the Palestinians hate them more – and the chancellor proposes that we wait. It would be nice if she would at least tell the truth: Israel has no intention of ending the occupation. Palestinians, forget about a state. Israel is too strong, the settlers too numerous and the world too indifferent. You’ve been left to your fate.

      But Merkel evades and obscures the truth. She needs more time – but the third-generation Palestinian living under occupation has no more time. He has only one life cycle to live. For 50 years now, he has been told this is not the right time to liberate him.

      Those saying this are considered Israel’s friends, but they are its greatest enemies. They are the ones who allow the status quo to persist. They allow Israel to be as reckless as it pleases, and encourage the Palestinians to act violently – because they have no other way.

      This is what is called being a friend to Israel, but this is the new anti-Semitism. Granting carte blanche to the Jewish state to thumb its nose at international law and justice, backing it up, financing and arming it. And at the same time, it takes part in trampling the rights of a people no less Semitic, the Palestinians – that is also a kind of anti-Semitism.

      The new anti-Semitism allows Israel to go downhill on the road it has chosen and doesn’t attempt to stop it. The new anti-Semitism ignores the distress of the Palestinians, who have no other time than the present to be freed of their bonds. It does not understand that they do not deserve to live another 50 years under Israel; it is not recognizing that they deserve that Europe – first and foremost Germany – should act on their behalf, precisely because of the haunting past.

      One must have expected Angela Merkel to understand this.”

      read more:

      Next, every American President since ………….

      • echinococcus on February 20, 2016, 10:06 pm

        Those saying this are considered Israel’s friends, but they are its greatest enemies.

        One wishes.
        Very appropriate observation today ( about fixing things that don’t work:

        Most of us have that person in our life—maybe we even are that person—who hates to throw anything away and thus, despite multiple problems over a length of time, will tinker with something in an attempt to patch it up enough that it remains functioning, at least in part. My dad would do this with cars, borrowing parts from other cars, painting over scratches, and attempting to jimmy-rig whatever he could to get a few more drives out of the old Caprice Classic. At some point, though, he realized that it’s just not a good plan to have to jumpstart the car every time before you drive it. Having such a broken vehicle is cumbersome, inefficient, and prone to other bigger problems, like leaving the drivers stranded somewhere dangerous. A desperately broken car can even be deadly. The time comes, sometimes, to just get a new car.

        Scrap it already, people.

      • Mooser on February 21, 2016, 11:28 am

        “Most of us have that person in our life…/… to just get a new car.”

        Uh-oh. I hope my wife doesn’t see that article. She already thinks I’m too capricious.

  5. K Renner on February 21, 2016, 11:47 am

    Paul Bronfman is a ridiculous coward of the worst order and his narrative– that stating the facts about Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian West Bank in any way, in any kind of medium, is “offensive to Jews” only serves to make “the Jews” of whom he speaks of as a homogenous collective look as cowardly and ridiculous as he is.

  6. eljay on February 21, 2016, 12:13 pm

    Like all Zio-supremacists, Bronfman despises peace and justice – and, no doubt, accountability and equality – when it comes to the I-P issue.

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