Monday, April 17, 2006


Following on from protests at Roger Waters plans to play Tel Aviv, he's had a bit of a rethink and now shifted the gig to Neveh Shalom, nearer the Israeli-West Bank border.

Waters had previously defended his appearance in Israel, despite the whole border wall and driving over protesters and so on because:

"I would not rule out going to Israel because I disapprove of the foreign policy any more than I would refuse to play in the UK because I disapprove of Tony Blair's foreign policy."

Or, as Reuters paraphrased:

Waters has said that he remains firm in his opposition to the barrier but will not penalise Israeli fans with a boycott.

We can imagine Queen saying pretty much the same thing as they wandered off to play Sun City - after all, why penalise South African fans because of what their government was doing, eh?

The one effective thing Waters could do to persuade the Israeli government to rip down its wall - a wall so offensive that even George Bush realised it wasn't really going to help much ("I think the wall is a is very difficult to develop confidence between the Palestinians and Israel with a wall snaking through the West Bank") - is withholding even tacit support for the wall's existence.

So, it might mean a few Israelis don't get to see an aging rock star for a few more years yet. And, yes, Waters not going won't, in itself, change the government policy. But not going would be much more likely to have a small positive effect than turning up and doing the "hey teacher leave them kids alone" routine.

Today's round of murders in Tel Aviv, with nine killed by a suicide bomber is a sharp reminder of why Waters can't pretend that the Middle East is just another gig. There are too many dead bodies - too many dead, innocent bodies - on both sides of the wall to pretend that it's no different from playing the Birmingham NEC.

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