Israel boycott activist Roger Waters angry after Jewish talk cancelled

By Jennifer Lipman, April 11, 2013
Roger Waters (Photo: Daigo Oliva)

Roger Waters (Photo: Daigo Oliva)

Roger Waters, one of the most enthusiastic supporters of a boycott of Israel in the entertainment industry, has reacted furiously after a debate he was scheduled to take part in in New York was cancelled. He accused the organisers of refusing "to talk".

The British musician, frontman for the band Pink Floyd, was due to speak at an event at the respected 92Y, a Jewish cultural centre, later this month.

He has now been told that his appearance has been cancelled, following problems with the suggested date of the event. But Mr Waters said that a clash could have been resolved and that he had now "been made aware of rumblings on the net suggesting that resistance in the local Jewish community to my coming engagement may have had something to do with its cancellation".

Writing on his website the musician said: "If that be the case it saddens me. In these troubled times, opportunities for serious, measured discourse are too precious to be discarded on the altar of sectarian prejudice. Not to talk is not an option."

He added that "to bundle up in our dread beliefs serves us not at all".

The 92Y has not clarified whether the event was cancelled because of pressure, but the news was welcomed by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. "We are very pleased that a vocal supporter of the BDS movement will not be given a platform at a Jewish institution," said its director.

Mr Waters appears to have taken a difference stance on this issue than in the past. In February he waded into a high profile row at a college in Brooklyn to back the interests of group supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel.

He said at the time that Students for Justice in Palestine were "standing up for truth and liberty" and that he stood by them. He has backed boycotts of Israel on more than one occasion in the past and, earlier this year, revealed himself as the person who pushed Stevie Wonder into cancelling a concert in aid of the Israeli Defence Forces.

Last updated: 3:40pm, April 11 2013