Former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters may be facing cancelations of upcoming scheduled concerts due to his support for a boycott against goods and services from Israel.
Waters has been making headlines lately due to his harsh criticism of the band Radiohead for moving forward with plans to perform an upcoming concert in Tel Aviv, Israel. The rocker is an outspoken critic of Israel, and a staunch supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The BDS supports withdrawing economic support for Israel due to its poor treatment of the Palestinian people, and refuses support until Palestinians are granted equality under Israeli law.
Breaking the Law?
Rogers’ stance isn’t sitting well with leaders in the Jewish community and lawmakers in Uniondale, a Nassau county city in New York. They recently gathered at the Nassau Coliseum to call for the upcoming Roger Waters concerts scheduled for September to be canceled.
In fact, a Nassau County official is now threatening to take “appropriate legal action” against the Nassau Coliseum operators if the concerts are allowed to move forward as planned.
Last year, officials in Nassau County passed a bill prohibiting individuals and companies from doing business with the county if they support the BDS movement. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order similar to this last year. Nassau lawmakers say that allowing Waters to perform at the Nassau Coliseum would be in violation of this local law that takes a stand against Israeli discrimination.
In recent weeks, legislator Howard J. Kopel (R) petitioned the county’s attorney to decide whether the operators of the Nassau Coliseum would in fact be breaking the law if they allowed Waters to perform the two scheduled concerts in the ‘County sponsored’ venue in September. In addition, Kopel feels that having Rogers perform at a county-run facility “offends the sense of decency held by our residents.”
County lawmakers seem to agree that Waters’ performance would violate the recent law. Nassau County attorney Carnell Foskey thinks that the performance would indeed violate the law, and is currently lobbying the Nassau Events Center to prohibit the concert. According to Foskey, “By enabling Mr. Waters to perform, NEC (Nassau Events Center) has given Mr. Waters a forum or platform to express his BDS ideology.” Other lawmakers, including Hempstead Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman, has called for Waters’ U.S. visa to be revoked to retaliate against the rocker.
Waters indicates he has plans to perform at the Nassau Coliseum in September, and will move forward with the planned September 15th and 16th shows at the venue. According to Waters, he is confident County officials will not be successful in stopping his performances.
“I think they’re gonna fail,” he said in a Facebook Live video. “I don’t think, I know they are, because you would have to tear up the Constitution of the United States of America, particularly the First Amendment, and throw it into the Hudson River, or the East River if that’s closer, for that to happen.”
New York is Not the First State to Resist Waters’ Concerts
Waters had a similar reaction from Miami, Florida officials and groups when he performed at the American Airlines Arena recently. Although it is not against the law to perform there, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation accused him of anti-Semitism, and placed an ad in the Miami Herald directed at Waters: “Anti-Semitism and Hatred are Not Welcome in Miami.” It linked to a message that asked concert sponsors to pull out and stated: “Mr. Waters, your vile messages of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and hatred are not welcome in this community.”
In addition, StandWithUs/Southeast, another group against Waters, hired a truck with a billboard to drive through the streets of downtown Miami flaunting an advertisement that read, “Say NO to Racist Attacks Against Israel by Roger Waters.” The controversy also prompted Miami Beach to cancel plans for members from the drama program in the city’s summer camp to perform with the rocker on stage.
“I am anti-war, anti-apartheid, anti-racist, pro human rights, pro peace and pro self-determination for all peoples,” Waters declared on his Facebook page. “I am not anti-Israel or anti-Semitic.”
~ 1776 Christian