Friday, April 21, 2006

An open letter to Roger Waters

Dear Mr. Waters,

Let me start off by saying that I am deeply pleased and grateful for your decision to NOT perform in Israel.

Furthermore, I commend you for continually voicing your opposition to ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine.

I will admit that I have not been a fan of PINK FLOYD the rock band you helped found, but I will let you know from this day forward, you will always be one of the musicians I look up to. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be very many in the celebrity world that realizes the dire situation that exists in Palestine today.

For instance, Sharon Stone the Hollywood actress of such films as; BASIC INSTINCT 1 & 2, CASINO (For which she received an Academy Award nomination), and of course SLIVER (Never saw it? Don’t worry neither did most of the world), came to Israel. In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz she stated that her visit to Israel did not imply taking sides. “I am not for or against one side,” she said, further saying: When my children fight, I don’t choose any side, either. I love them equally.” With this comment, Ms. Stone shows that she is wholly unaware of the continuing cycle of violence that has happened to Palestinians for almost 40 years. By choosing not to take a side, she is in fact endorsing the gross human rights violations that Israel continually commits against the Palestinians.

Mr. Waters, it would be nice to think that Ms. Stone is the exception to the rule, but alas, there are more from the entertainment world who are following her lead and gleefully coming to Israel: the rapper 50 Cent and Ziggy Marley (Son of the late singer Bob Marley), are but two of the entertainers scheduled to come and perform in Israel.

The entertainment world, in general, is notoriously slow to acknowledge the suffering of the two-thirds world for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Apartheid South Africa. Many times those within the arts and culture aspect of the anti-apartheid movement implored celebrities from the arts and sports to boycott coming but their calls fell on deaf ears. The lure of money took over principles and they came in droves until bold and conscious driven people such as Arthur Ashe, singer/actor Harry Belafonte and actor Danny Glover spoke out against the injustice and refused to come. I now count you among a small but hopefully growing group of entertainers, along with Michael Franti and actor Richard Gere who have voiced their opposition to the Israeli occupation.

Mr. Waters, know that there will be many that say that you are taking an ill-advised stand on the conflict. They will say that you are professing your Anti-Semitism. But know that the Israeli apologists that say these things feel that anyone who says anything critical of Israel is considered Anti-Semitic.

But the criticism that is directed at the Israeli government is valid. In fact, The United Nations and the overwhelming majority of nations recognize Israel across the world as a repressive occupying power that maintains illegal settlements in occupied Palestine. Further, it violates international law, UN resolutions and basic human rights of the Palestinian people. Since 1948 Israel has not recognized the Palestinian refugees right of return, yet all the while resettling their own Jewish population on land that has been confiscated by force from the Palestinian population.

But I do not wish to regurgitate these facts to you sir. From what I have heard and now have seen, I am quite certain that you are well aware of these facts.

Again Mr. Waters, I thank you for having the courage to stand for peace and justice rather than sit down and take a paycheck.

I hope that more musicians, sports personalities, actors and other artists will follow your lead and speak out against Israel’s illegal, immoral and inhuman occupation. Only then will we see true peace and stability in a region that desperately needs it.

Chris Brown

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