I never listen to pop music, but I do know the difference between the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. I even know one of the Stones’ daughters, Theodora Richards, as she went out with the son of a friend who brought her aboard my boat. (Incredibly, she had very good manners.) Pink Floyd—it’s a band—I do not know at all, but I love one of its cofounders, Roger Waters. I’ve met him once or twice, but he wouldn’t remember. Waters used to own a chalet in Gstaad and had the most beautiful wife, and they made a very nice-looking and civilized couple. Then they sold the place, got divorced, and Roger has been with an old friend of mine ever since. She tells me some very nice things about him, but it’s a letter he recently wrote that has made him a hero of mine.
A rock star needs to be politically correct at all times, especially when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in view of the fact that Jewish interests control the music business and then some. Roger Waters has been very brave in sticking up for the underdog and unafraid to link his name with those of us who know the real goings-on in the West Bank, where mostly American-born settlers treat the local Palestinians not unlike occupying German troops behaved toward Poles 50 years ago. Waters has been outspoken at all times about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, but recently he wrote an open letter to a billionaire Jewish accuser who had called him antisemitic. The billionaire’s name is Gerald Ronson, an Englishman who did time in jail for the Guinness fraud about 20 years ago.
Here’s the penultimate paragraph of the letter:
My father, the son of a coal miner from County Durham, pulled himself up by his bootstraps, eventually got a degree from Durham University, went off and taught divinity, history, and English in Jerusalem between 1935 and 1938, and subsequently died in Italy on February 18, 1944 fighting the Nazi menace. Do not dare to presume to preach to me, my father’s son, about anti-Semitism or human rights.
Ronson is the chairman of a Jewish charity among whose members is Ed Miliband, most likely the next Brit prime minister. They were busy hurling abuse at Waters while raising money for Jewish charities. Waters is not the type to flinch, and remains vociferous in his support for the Palestinian people’s struggle for basic human rights, including their right to self-determination. This, needless to say, makes him an antisemite in the eyes of people like Ronson, a greedy bully whose father I doubt ever served, but who uses the automatic slur hurled at anyone who criticizes the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands by Uncle Sam’s favorite bully boy. Yet Waters is not against the Israeli people, but simply a critic of the policies pursued by Israeli governments. As a result this crude pattern of character assassination has now become the norm, obviously encouraged by neocons and Israeli hard-liners. The fact that a significant minority of Israelis, on religious or humanitarian grounds, totally agrees with Waters makes the slur by Ronson even worse. To be lectured by a shark like Ronson must be a very bitter pill to swallow.
That Israel’s hard right has totally gone off the tracks is obvious to all reasonable people. Like most religious zealots, the settlers will not allow any politician to sign a peace treaty with what they consider subhumans—yes, they use this word freely and openly. The latest influx of Russian Jews, along with the great birthrate of settlers, will soon make Israel the Jewish equivalent of Saudi Arabia, a fanatical religious society ruled by rabbi zealots but supported totally by the United States. It is a far cry from the birth of Israel in 1948, when Judah Magnes, the president of Hebrew University, and Henrietta Szold, the founder of the women’s Zionist organization Hadassah, called for a binational state that would have allowed both Palestinians and Jews to share the land.
It is now too late to do anything about it—the British having found it impossible to control Jewish immigrants pouring through Palestine following World War II and having turned the problem over to the United Nations and Uncle Sam—but there is a way to read the riot act to the Israeli right, and only Uncle Sam can do it: Stop the illegal occupation, or stand alone without me. These words, of course, will never be spoken by anyone in Washington—AIPAC would have him or her tarred and feathered the next morning—yet it’s the only way. Only Uncle Sam can control the religious Israeli right by threatening to cut off aid. But, dear readers, do not hold your breath. It will never happen unless money goes out of style, and politicians are funded by the state and not by special interests. See you in Jerusalem.