It’s extremely difficult for entertainers to stay out of politics. Even when one does their damnedest to stay out of a political fight one can be seen as for one side or the other just by their inaction. Take for example the age old Middle East conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. According to an August 28th article in Rolling Stone magazine, summer 2014 was supposed to be the biggest and baddest concert season in Israeli history. May and June brought concerts by megastars Justin Timberlake and the Rolling Stones seemingly without any controversy. But in July, everything blew up…literally. The Hamas controlled Gaza Strip erupted in violence and longtime Palestinian advocate and former Pink Floyd band member Roger Waters began to exert his considerable influence over his fellow artists. He persuaded many artists including Neil Young to cancel Israeli concert dates. Many cited “security concerns” as their stated reason for abandoning Israeli fans. Really??? When has there not been some sort of security concern in Israel and the Middle East in general? Despite the constant turmoil between Israel and its Arab neighbors, it remains a bastion of safety and security in the region. It has enhanced its security with the Iron Dome Interception Unit (IDIS) which so far has intercepted every rocket fired from the Gaza Strip. With all due respect and condolences to family members who have lost brave journalists and humanitarians due to beheadings, Israel is one place in the Middle East where you don’t have to worry about finding Neil Young on a stick. Other performers such as Nick Carter of The Backstreet Boys dismiss their reluctance to perform by stating, “We’re entertainers – it’s not our job to take sides”. But going back to my original point…they’re clearly in the Palestinian camp.
Why do celebrity remarks and actions matter at all when it comes to Israel? It’s due to the nature of celebrity itself. Celebrities are often taken more seriously than well reasoned and thoughtful experts when it comes to the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Perception is reality… unfortunately. But being pro-Israeli doesn’t mean one is anti-Palestinian. The vast population in the Gaza Strip lives in deplorable conditions. But where does the fault lie? When the Israelis departed Gaza, they left behind highly technical agricultural and industrial installations. What they got in return was a shower of rockets. The Palestinian people have been ill served by the Hamas leadership. They may be hailed as heroes within the confines of Gaza, but the hospitals, mosques, and schools they build for their constituency are often turned into weapons storage depots. Follow the money- the funding coming from the U.N, the U.S., E.U. and the Saudi’s and see how much actually trickles down to needy families in the West Bank and Gaza.
One of the key issues plaguing any peace agreement between the two parties hinges on the Palestinians demand of the right of return. This would mean that approximately 600,000 refugees of the 1948 War of Independence and their descendants (some have put the number as high as five million) would be allowed to flood Israel and to overwhelm the Jewish state thus destroying it from within. Israel already incorporates into its population a million Arab citizens as it is in a land mass that is just barely larger than the state of New Jersey. So you see that demand is a non-starter. Even if the Israelis wanted to negotiate, who would they negotiate with? It is fairly clear Hamas will never recognize Israel as a state. How can you sit down with someone in earnest peace talks when they don’t recognize your right to exist? There are no Anwar Sadats out there or on the horizon. One almost pines for the good old days of Yasser Arafat. For all his faults, at least he came around to recognizing Israel and would sit down at the negotiating table. And what has happened to the so called "good guys" - the Palestinian Authority? They have been subsumed by Hamas.
Has Israel overreached at times in its struggle to maintain peace and security? You bet it has, as any nation might that was created out of the ashes of the Nazi Holocaust and on the very day of that creation was invaded by five neighboring Arab states. Mr. Waters has compared Israel with the Nazis and has even flown pig balloons at concerts with a Star of David prominently displayed on it. It’s also no surprise that Waters is part of the pro-Palestinian group BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions). The group contains academics, writers as well as entertainers in its ranks who seek to deprive Israel economically and culturally until they heed to Palestinian demands. Other prominent members include Alice Walker, Danny Glover, David Byrne, and Jane Fonda. And while they seek to thwart musical festivals, plays, and films within Israel pray tell me where their films, plays, and music will ever be listened to and heard in the Arab world? Will ISIS or the Saudis ever allow Danny Glover’s Lethal Weapon 56 (or whatever he’s up to now) be shown in territory they control? No way in hell. Such “decadent” western influences will not be tolerated. And what about the treatment of women in these Arab lands? Any comments about that Ms. Fonda?
Pull back from the Middle East map and you will see Israel is not the neighborhood bully it is often portrayed to be. With the exception of the Jordanians and the Egyptians (very shaky at this point), Israel is surrounded by Arab states and entities who want to see it utterly destroyed. Mr. Waters, a little balance is in order. You see there is no middle ground. As we say in Texas the only things in the middle of the road are yellow stripes and dead armadillos.