An open letter to Mr. Roger Waters.

Dear Mr. Rogers,

I don’t know you personally, but growing up I was a big Pink Floyd fan. I think that The Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, Atom Heart Mother are simply artistic masterpieces and that no musical education is complete without them. Even though, I think The Wall is not on the same level as the aforementioned albums, I still believe it’s an important piece of musical history. It’s actually a corner stone in terms of artistic statement.

As a teenager, I listened to The Wall countless times and have watched the film again and again, finding new nuances every time. I admit  that the effective use of symbolism affected me and helped shape the young individual I later became.

It may have been my misconception, but I did view you as a person who looked past the obvious, a person who didn’t look at a group of individuals as a “crowd” but just as a group of individuals. A man who did not judge a book by its cover. A supporter of democracy and freedom of speech, freedom of expression. Sensitive to human rights.

I forgot to mention, Mr. Waters, that I was born and raised in Israel, in a perfectly normative family and attended the public school system, which is the mainstream in my homeland.

That is why I was so surprised to learn that you spend quite a bit of energy to promote a boycott of my country. That’s why I was shocked to read that you’d attack fellow artists for their connections with Israel. This is why I was so disappointed to see a hero of mine, judging our book by its apparent cover. I was rather appalled by the use of symbolism you chose for a Berlin show of The Wall, where a floating pig had the star of David printed on it. Just to give you an idea – the star of David is not the symbol of the state of Israel. It is the symbol of the Jewish religion. So by presenting it the way you did, you (unintentionally, I will wish) did something rather unfortunate.

I will not try to convince you that you’re pointing a finger at the only democracy in the region. Nor would I try to ask why you would want to harm a country of more than 7 million people just because you read about a few radical individuals, who are considered as radicals by most of the country. I wouldn’t even venture to go into the “who’s right” debate. First, because I have criticism of my own to my government and second, I don’t believe I’ve seen one example where arguments over the internet did any good.

All I want to say, Mr. Waters is that you of all people, should be the last one to demand that other artists do not pursue their happiness and careers.

Neil Young played a fantastic concert with the members of Pearl Jam in Israel. I was there. I didn’t hear Neil justify any deed done by any government. Nor did the members of Pearl Jam jump up and down covered in the blue and white flag. They came to play music for people, to make them happy. And if you read Neil Young’s lyrics, you know what they say. You know the topics.

Scarlett Johansson is not “undeniably cute”. She is a fantastic and acclaimed actress with her own mind. I don’t know why you would jump at her and demand she stops a business connection she has with a factory that employs both Jews and Arabs.

Ok, I’ll give you that. She is rather “cute”. I even dedicated a post here to her (With all due respect).

In other words Mr. Waters, I think that your intents are pure (I don’t know you personally, so I will not put word in your mouth), but the actions you take are not constructive. You want to build bridges for peace, but you alienate people and cause the chasm between them to grow bigger. Because that’s what boycott does.

In this little humble spot of the internet, I try to send positive messages. So let me reach out to you and say – Let’s build bridges for peace. Not burn them. Let’s work together, and realize that we are not our governments. The people want peace. The people want to live and let live. So rather than punish them, how about you do the opposite?

How about a monumental “The Wall” concert in the region? You Mr. Waters and (if the gods are listening) the rest of the legendary Pink Floyd, performing to a crowd of Israelis and Palestinians and helping mend the wounds of this conflict.

Sincerely yours,

Gil Shalev

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