Roger Waters is not happy with Bon Jovi right now. According to Rolling Stone, the problem stems from the New Jersey band’s decision to play a concert in Israel on October 3. As Waters staunchly disapproves of Israel’s treatment of Palestine, he encourages other celebrities to boycott the nation.
— Salon.com (@Salon) October 2, 2015
By opting to play in Tel Aviv, the group inspired a rather harsh open letter by Waters, which was published as an op-ed for Salon. In the letter, Roger Waters explained that he often wrote “detailed, and sometimes even persuasive, letters to colleagues in the music business” with the intent to dissuade them from giving “succor to the Israeli government’s apartheid policies” through performances. He referenced a similar stance taken by music artists against South Africa during the height of Apartheid.
“Having read Jon [Bon Jovi’s] comments last week in Yedioth Ahronoth, I won’t waste my time drawing parallels with Apartheid South Africa and the moral stand that so many artists took then and that thousands are taking now in the face of decades of Israeli oppression of Palestinians.
So the die is cast, you are determined to proceed with your gig in Tel Aviv on October 3.”
Waters informed Bon Jovi their decision meant they were “standing shoulder to shoulder” with atrocities committed by members of the Israeli military against unarmed Palestinians, including children. “You stand shoulder to shoulder,” wrote Roger, “with the settler who burned the baby, with the bulldozer driver who crushed Rachel Corrie, with the soldier who shot the soccer player’s feet to bits, with the sailor who shelled the boys on the beach, with the sniper who killed the kid in the green shirt, and the one who emptied his clip into the 13-year-old girl.”
“The dead can’t remind you of the crimes you’ve ignored. But, lest we forget, ‘To stand by silent and indifferent is the greatest crime of all.'”
The comment by Jon Bon Jovi that Roger Waters referenced in his letter explained why the artist was eager to visit Israel for a performance. In an interview with Israeli magazine Yediot, the singer said, “[I’ve always heard what a wonderful place Israel is, the birthplace of all religions!” Bon Jovi further explained that despite opportunities to travel around the world with his band, they’d never visited Israel.
“This time I insisted that Israel must be on our list, and it happened!”
It doesn’t sound as though Bon Jovi ever intended their visit to signal support of Israel’s treatment of Palestine. Given the timing of the letter, it’s doubtful Roger Waters persuaded the band to abandon their Tel Aviv plans. Rolling Stone reached out to Bon Jovi for a comment about Roger’s letter, but a representative for the band declined to comment.
The Roger Waters feud with Bon Jovi over the band’s decision to play in Tel Aviv isn’t the first time a celebrity or famous group has come under fire for taking a trip to questionable locations. Prior to the United States re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, artists Beyonce and Jay-Z received criticism for making, what some felt, an illegal trip to Havana. The federal government later declared their trip was, in fact, perfectly legal.
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) October 3, 2015
It’s unlikely, despite the controversy raging over the Israel/Palestine conflict, that similar sanctions will ever be made against Israel. Thanks in large part to the hard-line policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the nation has increasingly come under international scrutiny, particularly thanks to military campaigns against Palestine terror organizations which led to huge civilian casualties. The United Nations claimed in 2014 that seven out of 10 Palestinians killed by Israel were unarmed civilians, but Israel strongly disagrees with this estimation.
[Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images, Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images]