Former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters has engaged in a war of words with Dark Side of the Moon engineer Alan Parsons, who leads the Alan Parsons Project, over the latter’s decision to play a concert in Tel Aviv, Israel.
On Saturday, Waters, Floyd’s “pimply bass player,” by his own estimation, published two letters he had written “the tall engineer” to his Facebook page, explaining that the first was his plea to Parsons to cancel the show while the second was his reply to a private letter Parsons had written him. Angered that Waters refused to comply with his request to keep the matter altogether private, Parsons published his reply to his own Facebook page.
In Waters’ original note, he asked Parsons to reconsider the February 10th show. “I know you to be a talented and thoughtful man, so I assume you know of the plight of the Palestinians,” he wrote. After explaining a nonviolent Palestinian movement, he attempted to appeal to Parsons’ artistic sensibilities. “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,” he wrote. “As with [the 1985 boycott of shows at the South African resort] 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.”
Parsons, who identified himself as Waters’ colleague, politely declined the Wall singer’s request. “I appreciate your note and your passion,” he wrote. “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.”
Waters replied by saying he wished to continue the dialogue. “By ignoring the boycott, you are turning your back on a beleaguered people who are desperately in need of your support,” he wrote. “Even at this late hour, please reconsider.”
In Parsons’ explanation for sharing his side of the story, he said, “Thank all our Israeli fans in advance for their loyalty, support and for attending our show in Tel Aviv.”
In March 2013, Waters called for a boycott of Israel. “They are running riot,” he said of the country’s government, “and it seems unlikely that running over there and playing the violin will have any lasting effect.”
Last summer, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder seemed to echo Waters’ sentiments in a speech he gave at a concert in England. “[Some people are] looking for a reason to go across borders and take over land that doesn’t belong to them,” he said. “They should get the fuck out and mind their own fucking business.” Although he never mentioned any specific countries in his remarks, the Israeli media took them as an affront. Vedder later clarified that his comments were meant to be taken as simply “anti-war.” “I’d rather be naïve, heartfelt and hopeful than resigned to say nothing for fear of misinterpretation and retribution,” he wrote on his band’s website.
Former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic voiced his support of Vedder, though he specifically addressed the Israel-Palestine conflict. “The people of Palestine and Israel deserve peace and prosperity,” he wrote in a statement. “It is time to stop repeating the same old arguments, dogma and hate speech. It is the knuckleheads on both sides that should be criticized and not the singer from a rock band. In addition, both sides need to make hard decisions about finding a settlement to the catastrophe that is Israel/Palestine.”