Letter Regarding Cultural Boycott of Israel
  • agoldstein April 2013

    Roger Waters, in his newest post, discusses his desire to include fellow musicians in a cultural boycott of Israel. Here is Waters' rough draft of a letter to musicians: "To My Fellow Musicians: Please join me in a Cultural Boycott of Israel until such time as the Israeli Government ceases its illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and reverses its Illegal program of settlement building, both of which, it is widely agreed, constitute insurmountable impediments to any peaceful solution for either The Palestinian or The Israeli People. Peace for them both is our goal."

    Let us analyze what Waters is saying. He essentially has two issues with Israel's policies. The first is that Israel is engaged in "illegal occupation of Palestinian lands." The second, actually a corollary to the first, is that the building of settlements (read: Jewish settlements) in these lands constitutes an impediment to peace.
    Roger, I do hope you will take the time to read this. Re the first point: As you certainly know, Israel contests the notion that the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) are "Palestinian lands." Israel has greater rights to these lands than do the Palestinian Arabs. This is the case for several reasons: 1. The "Palestinians," in the sense of being a singular people, are a very recent creation. Until roughly 40 years ago, the Arabs themselves did not assert independent peoplehood for the Arabs who had lived in the area of the British Mandate. The idea of such peoplehood became popular in the sixties and seventies with the advent of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Yet even if one were to grant that the Palestinians today constitute a people (I, for one, am amenable to this idea), that does not  confer retroactive claims on lands, especially on disputed lands. At worst, in Israel's view, the West Bank is disputed territory; it is most certainly not Palestinian territory;

    2. Jordan illegally occupied the West Bank in 1948 and continued its occupation until 1967. That occupation conferred no legal status on the West Bank, and its status remained undetermined. The only possible guideline would have been the borders demarcated by the UN in 1947 for a Jewish and an Arab state. But the Arab states rejected partition and proceeded to try and annihilate Israel. While the Jews reluctantly had accepted a very small Jewish state, the Arab rejection and subsequent invasion voided any legitimacy for the 1947 demarcation. Nonetheless, Israel lived within its borders, under perpetual threat, until the Arabs instigated the Six-Day War of June 1967. At that time, the West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip, Sinai, and the Golan Heights, fell under Israeli control. Now here is the key:

    ISRAEL IMMEDIATELY PROPOSED NEGOTIATIONS TO ARRANGE FOR PERMANENT BORDERS AND PEACE. The Arabs reacted with the famous "three no's": No peace, no recognition, no negotiation." The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 242, in which it called for Israel to give up land (not "all" lands, not "the" lands, just land) in exchange for full peace. The text of this resolution, reaffirmed in Resolution 338, is the ONLY statement that carries weight in resolving Arab-Israel issues. In this resolution, the UN recognizes that Israel has the right to control the territories taken in 1967 until there is full peace.

    That's right, Roger: The United Nations itself, in the only resolutions it has issued from the Security Council that were agreed to by all parties, endorses Israel's right to control the territories. The final disposition of the territories, as declared at the UN, is to be arranged by negotiations among the Arabs and the Israelis. And so Israel's  "occupation" is not illegal, even according to the UN. And 242 implicitly recognizes that Israel has rights in the territories and need not relinquish the entire West Bank even in exchange for full peace. Nonetheless, Israel has consistently extended the olive branch of peace to its neighbors. But the more Israel has given up, the greater the demands and the violence have become. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005; there is not a single Jew in the Gaza Strip. And yet, the reward has been persistent rocket attacks.

    Israel withdrew from Jericho and then from other areas in the West Bank, giving the Palestinians a chance to begin state-building. The result was two intifadas and untold homicide bombings. That is why Israel built  the defensive wall: as a shield, to protect its Jewish and Arab citizens, not in order to purposely separate Arabs!

    And so, Roger, there is no "illegal" occupation. As for settlements, Jews have every right to live in their ancestral homeland of Judea and Samaria. Israel does not stop Arabs from living in Israel; why should Jews be prevented from living in the West Bank?

    There is even more, Roger. Even if you disagree with everything I have written here, my question would be: WHAT DO YOU WANT ISRAEL TO DO? Do you really believe Israel should just get up and leave every inch of land acquired in 1967? Would that bring peace? Or would that bring even more demands. The answer is the latter. Hamas, of course, would continue to insist that Israel be eradicated. And Fatah is on record that there can be no peace unless Palestinian Arabs are allowed to "return" to their pre-1948 homes in Israel. If that were permitted, then Israel would cease to exist as a Jewish state. Roger, do you believe Israel should cease to exist?

    Thanks. Avi



  • barjohn May 2013
    Why shouldn't anyone disagree with everything you have written here? It's only your opinion, or do you have a following of thousands? That's right, Avi - condescending sarcasm reflects our inner dissatisfaction. You certainly seem to have all the answers, though.
  • Roger Waters is way too human and intelligent to fall for such half-baked propaganda. This is why he has shown incredible courage in joining in the boycott campaign and asking other artists to join in. You see, Avi, he has seen through Israeli propaganda lies, and it's about time everyone else did, including Israelis and Jews everywhere. 
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