I’m a huge Pink Floyd fan. For my money, few bands were as brilliant for as long. From "Dark Side of the Moon" to "The Wall" to "Momentary Lapse of Reason," their songwriting ability and unique sound made them legends in rock and roll.

Roger Waters sang and played bass for the band for many years. Following his departure, and eight months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he performed "The Wall" – hands down the best concept album of all time – near the Brandenburg Gate to a paid crowd of over 400,000. If you haven’t seen that concert you can find it here on YouTube. It features stirring performances by artists like Van Morrison, Bryan Adams, Cyndi Lauper and Sinead O’Connor and an incredible finish where a hundred foot wall, erected on stage during the performance, is torn down while the crowd chants "Tear down the wall!"
It was a historically significant performance given the nature of Communism and the significance of the West’s victory in the Cold War, but it came three years too late. Roger Waters wasn’t the first to shout "Tear down the wall!" on that very spot – Ronald Reagan was. In this case art wasn’t challenging society to change, it was profiting off that change to the tune of nearly half a million tickets.
I don’t follow Roger Waters much these days, he stopped being interesting in the early 90s, but a few days ago he wrote an incredible piece at Salon where he appears to repudiate everything he wrote about in "The Wall" and performed at the Brandenburg Gate.
Waters’ topic is Gaza, and as I’ve noted in the past the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an incredibly complicated multi-decadal saga with plenty of blame to be thrown around, but I will always and forever side with a free, open, liberal democracy over a closed, militant, religious totalitarian system.
This is a fight akin to the one described in "The Wall", where Waters rages against "an out-of touch education system bent on reducing compliant cogs in the societal wheel, [and] a government that treats its citizens like chess pieces." So why is he so decidedly anti-Israel?
Israel is defending itself, building walls and blockading naval routes to keep dangerous weaponry out of Gaza. Even though Israel hasn’t had troops permanently stationed in Gaza for a decade, Israel is, according to Waters, "occupied."
The question of whether or not Gaza is "occupied" by Israel is a complicated matter of international law and I won’t go into the specifics here, but it is also a matter of record that Gaza is ruled by a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Waters doesn’t see fit to mention this in his piece.
Nor does he mention the philosophy of radical Islam. He doesn’t mention Palestinian children being taught by Hamas to "kill all Jews." We don’t need no education, indeed.
It’s easy to dismiss Waters’ piece as simple ignorance, but there has emerged in the past few months a group of like-minded intellectuals called "Historians Against the War" who are similarly enraged at "the disproportionate harm that the Israeli military, which the United States has armed and supported for decades, is inflicting on the population of Gaza."
I’m not one to easily or quickly attribute racist motives to people, but I’m beginning to wonder just how much of this antagonism is fueled by anti-Semitism. The facts just don’t support their hypothesis.
They might just be reading mainstream news coverage. In an incredibly important piece, Matti Friedman describes how the mainstream media skew the coverage of the conflict in Gaza – decidedly in favor of Hamas.
So I’m tempted to say Roger Waters is simply misinformed or over-reliant on mainstream media accounts of the conflict. But who knows, there could be a bit of anti-Semitism in there as well. I’m confident truth will eventually carry the day, but given the state of the Middle East right now with ISIS and radical Islam on the rise these seem like very dark days indeed.
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