Earlier this week, in an interview with Rolling Stone, Roger Waters further discussed his stance toward Israel and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] movement by taking aim at a television program spotlighting a pro-Israel organization called StandWithUs. “I think it’s trying to get people to support Israel,” Waters said, accusing the organization of being “an arm” of the Israeli government. “The three moderators were desperately trying to knock down the BDS protest against Israeli occupation, terrorism and racism. Every time they opened their mouths, they gave more credence to the thing they thought they were attacking.”
In an exclusive statement to Rolling Stone, StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein responded to each of Waters’ claims about the organization. “It is run by American citizens who are concerned about the rise of misinformation, discrimination and bigotry against Israelis and Jews – a trend which Roger Waters unfortunately plays an active role in perpetuating,” Rothstein writes. The statement also examines the former Pink Floyd bassist’s use of concert imagery and language and accuses Waters of promoting “an agenda that undermines hopes for a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Waters did not immediately return a request for comment to StandWithUs’ statement. Read Rothstein’s statement in full below:
A Response to Roger Waters from StandWithUs:
StandWithUs is an independent non-profit organization founded and headquartered in the United States. It is not, as Roger Waters claimed in his recent interview by Rolling Stone, “an arm” of the Israeli government. It is run by American citizens who are concerned about the rise of misinformation, discrimination and bigotry against Israelis and Jews – a trend which Roger Waters unfortunately plays an active role in perpetuating.
Waters’ history of racism includes projecting the Star of David (the universal symbol of the Jewish people) onto a pig during concerts, waxing conspiratorial about the “Jewish lobby” and making slanderous, dehumanizing statements about Israelis. Waters also wholly ignores violent racism against Israelis by Palestinian political and religious leaders, and whitewashes the murder of innocent civilians that follows this abhorrent incitement.
He may believe that he’s doing this with the best of intentions, but it is up to the Jewish community, not Roger Waters, to decide whether or not he has engaged in anti-Semitism. In fact, his words and actions fit squarely within the U.S. State Department definition of anti-Semitism, which includes demonizing Israel (like when Waters compares Israelis to Nazis), delegitimizing Israel (like when he erases Jewish history, rights, and indigenous roots in the land of Israel by labelling them “colonizers”) and applying a double-standard to Israel (like when he demands cultural boycotts against Israel, but not other nations with plainly far worse human rights records).
Furthermore, as a leading spokesperson for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, Waters promotes an agenda that undermines hopes for a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. BDS actively discourages cultural exchanges between Israelis and Palestinians, effectively seeks to censor Israeli artists and has been overwhelmingly condemned for promoting violations of academic freedom. BDS’s ultimate goal is the elimination of Israel and the violation of Jewish rights to self-determination – just ask their co-founder, who has said that “we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.” Indeed, the core of BDS is not reasoned criticism of Israeli policy, but rather the notion that Palestinians can’t be free without turning the Jews back into a stateless people.
Those who oppose censorship, support academic freedom and want to see a just resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict have a moral obligation to oppose the bigoted movement known as BDS. People of conscience should support Israelis and Palestinians who understand the importance of mutual recognition, mutual respect, co-existence and self-determination for all peoples.
StandWithUs calls on Roger Waters to look more deeply into this age-old conflict, its root causes and the pain and suffering on both sides. We hope he will stop perpetuating a destructive agenda that singles out Israel and its supporters for vitriol, while hurting Israelis and Palestinians alike.