Roger Waters & “BDS” - Comfortably Dumb

Superstars are not necessarily super people. Here is an example.

Dr. David Lazerson

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Dr. David Lazerson
צילום: dd

Someone once described that initial entry into the harsh realities of adulthood as the time one first realizes that our childhood heroes are, in fact, fallible. Like a zillion other adolescents, I was star-struck by the great Mickey Mantle. Knowing that he kept playing ball (and hitting those monster homeruns) with so much pain in his body only added to the MM mystique. It was mighty tough for me to acknowledge that the Mick had a serious problem with alcoholism. I desperately clung to the notion that my heroes were supposed to above these lowly human weaknesses.

Today’s culture is one of media created superstars, from athletes to actors and actresses to rock stars. In the ever constant and growing world of social media, we’re bombarded with their images, movements, songs, thoughts, and actions both on and off the playing field. We shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that idol worship bit the dust when a young Abraham smashed his father’s stone deities in those primitive Biblical times. It’s alive and well in today’s “enlightened” culture of the Twitter twilight zone.

We even have a blockbuster show that unashamedly calls itself American Idol. We invest lots of emotional energy and lots of money into our superstars of today. Unfortunately, like my childhood hero The Mick, all too often these idols screw up royally. Sometimes when facing these incredibly difficult situations, the real hero emerges. It probably took more effort than playing ball with all that pain, but Mantle did overcome his alcoholism and eventually made peace with his family and fans.

But when a superstar abuses his or her position of power to espouse ignorance and hatred, it’s high time to knock this star out of the sky. There’s an old saying that goes something like “when you point a finger at someone, you’re actually pointing three at yourself.” Roger Waters, former keyboard player for the super group Pink Floyd, seems to be using both hands in his recent call for a boycott, divestment, & sanctions (BDS) from Israel – which makes six fingers staring himself in the face.

Perhaps he’s taken Floyd’s hit song Comfortably Numb too literally and with his ever-dulled cerebral cortex might now be referred to as Comfortably Dumb. The ever-present vibe within the rock and roll world is often categorized as peace, love and happiness. So let’s give Waters the benefit of the doubt and state from the get-go that he means well. He’s a victim of the same negative media bombardment of Israel as the rest of the planet. But Waters put the proverbial foot in his mouth when he reached out to his fellow rockers describing Israel as an “apartheid” country that practices ethnic cleansing of the unfortunate, so-called Palestinians.

Rip those Floyd posters off your walls. C’mon, even the black light ones.
I say “so-called” because the term “Palestine” has taken on a few very different and often opposite meanings throughout even recent history. In the 40’s and 50’s Palestine meant Israel, the “Holy Land” or homeland of the Jewish people.  The Jews that lived there were often called Palestinians in the world media. How quickly history can be forgotten when it serves some other political agenda.

Roger Water’s latest ramblings compare Israel to Nazi Germany and he’s called for his fellow rockers to “BDS” it when it comes to giggin’ in the Holy Land. It’s a case of the squeaky wheels getting the grease. The BDS movement is loud and their in-your-face tactics have produced some unfortunate anti-Israel results, from boycotting Israeli made goods to forcing musicians to declare their personal beliefs before giving musical performances.

Look at the most recent BDS nonsense against Matisyahu at the 2015 Rototom Sunsplash Festival in Spain. It was only after world pressure forced the BDS’ers to back down that Matis was put back on the playbook. Matis sang his usual messages of peace and brotherhood, while hundreds of BDS supporters waved “Palestinian” flags and shouted obscenities, including one in the front row who screamed and held a sign that read “NaziYahu!” One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize who at Rototom was acting like a Nazi - using fear and intimidation to attempt to silence another. But the BDS’ers are blind not only to reality but to their own hypocrisy.

It matters little if there’s any truth to their wild claims against the tiny state of Israel. The BDS movement isn’t too interested in reality. It’s simply become a platform of hatred against Israel. A more fitting acronym for this campaign of slander would be to take out the letter D, leaving the two letters to stand on their own: B.S. At least they’d be honest.

My guess is that most of the BDS’ers, including Waters, have never stepped foot in the holy land and observed things with their own perspective. C’mon folks. Rock stars are supposed to be living the individualistic lifestyle and advocating anything but, as Einstein put it, the “herd mentality.” Waters has jumped blindly headfirst into the anti-Israel bashing camps.

Seeing-is-believing and well, he’d be in for some huge eye-awakening experiences. For a trip to the Middle East would reveal that it is not Israel that practices ethnic cleansing but rather the Palestinians and other Muslim groups that not only refuse to live with Jews, Christians, and other “infidels,” but even more revealing, can’t even peacefully co-exist with other Arab and Muslim factions. Shiites bomb Sunni homes, mosques, markets, and murder innocent civilians. Sunnis do the same to Shiites. Wahhabis try to get rid of both Shiites and Sunnis. Al-Qaeda seems not to really care whom they go after with violence and terror. ISIS tries to take ‘em all down. And the list goes on and on.

Meanwhile in Israel, the Floyd musician would find things much differently. Pardon the expression, but he’d find clearer “waters.” There he’d see and experience a lot that would dispel his clouded, misguided perceptions. He’d find that Arabs can live, work, and play where they want to in Israel. If he visits the Knesset, the Israeli version of the US Congress, he’d see that Arabs serve in the government and are free to challenge Israeli law – which, by the way, they often do. He’d see neighborhoods that, despite the negative portrayals in mainstream media, consist of both Arabs and Israelis. If Waters went to an Israeli professional basketball, soccer, or baseball game, he’d see that there are a variety of ethnic groups, including Arabs, represented on the teams. If he attended a concert in Israel, he’d hear sweet sounds being made by an ethnically diverse group of musicians - very unlike, by the way, the ethnically non-diverse group of Pink Floyd.

Waters would do a whole lot better if he put his star power to protesting the mass killings in Syria (well over 100,000 and recent estimates have it closer to 200,000) in the past few years. That war is ongoing and is not between Jews and Muslims, or Israelis and Arabs. No, there  – as in many other Arab countries - it’s between one sect of Muslims versus another sect of Muslims.

Roger might want to raise his voice ever so slightly and protest the lack of women's rights under strict Sharia law - where women are murdered, often stoned to death, in "honor" killings.  And nary a word from him on all the silencing of brave journalists in these Muslim countries who have the audacity to report rapes against women and forced child marriages.

Then, of course, Waters remains silent on the drastic rise of hangings in current, "modern" Iran. Where is his cry for compassion for all the gays that have been executed in Muslim countries?

In all of these cases his silence speaks volumes.

It’s time for all intelligent and open-minded folks to give “muddy Waters” a taste of his own medicine. Rip those Floyd posters off your walls. C’mon, even the black light ones. Turn to a different channel when his music comes on. It’s not easy for me, as my band plays a bunch of their tunes. Well, let’s rephrase that: we used to play some of their songs. We’re known as Dr. Laz & The CURE and we’ve been around a bit. We opened for Grammy award winners Al Green, The Winans, The Manhattans, gigged together with the awesome Richie Havens, and even played for US Congress. Showtime made a movie about us called “Crown Heights,” and Howie Mandel plays me in the flic. Unlike Floyd, we are a racially and gender diverse group.

And we hope to play some gigs in Israel in the not too distant future, bringing our message of fostering racial harmony and respect.

No need for withdrawal symptoms. You can happily replace the Floyd posters with a group truly worthy of our respect: The Rolling Stones. Kudos to Mick and company for standing up to Waters and his BDS stupidity.  Despite Water’s personal message to the band not to go, the Stones rocked the Holy Land. They went just before summer 2014 and it was a huge success. The fans loved ‘em and perhaps more importantly, the Stones loved Israel. What they saw first-hand and experienced was probably the exact opposite of what Waters preaches. Quite frankly, Israel is not the problem in today’s often mixed-up world. It’s the solution! It is a country as ethnically diverse as anywhere in the world. Despite the differences, and despite the efforts of those who try to defame her, Israel is a free, democratic, and thriving country.

Until Waters changes his tune, we should all give the former (& fallen) superstar the cold shoulder and yeah, a bitter taste of some Waters/Floyd BDS.