The following interview was first published on The Electronic Intifada. You can view it in its original context, here.
A founder of Pink Floyd — a British rock group which has sold more than 250 million albums — Waters decided to become active in the international Palestinian solidarity movement following a trip to the West Bank in 2006. Shocked by the oppression that he witnessed, Waters spray-painted the words “we don’t need no thought control” — a line from one of his biggest hits — on Israel’s wall.
More recently, Waters has served as a juror on the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, an initiative aimed at drawing attention to how Western governments and companies aid Israel’s violations of international law. In that capacity, he addressed the United Nations during November last year.
Visiting Brussels for the tribunal’s final session, Waters said he would explore the idea of releasing a single urging musicians not to perform in Israel. He intends to discuss this project with Steven Van Zandt, the guitarist in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, who assembled many well-known musicians to record Sun City, a protest song against apartheid in South Africa during the 1980s.
Waters spoke to The Electronic Intifada’s David Cronin.
David Cronin: Do you think the campaign for a cultural boycott of Israel is having an impact?
Roger Waters: I’d like to think that it was.
My experience when I speak to people to and say “don’t go” is either they reply “that sounds good” or they say “don’t you think it’s better to go there?”
Well, no, I fucking don’t.
I think that the kind of boycott that was implemented against the apartheid regime in South Africa back in the day is probably the most effective way to go because the situation is that the Israeli government runs an apartheid regime in Israel, the occupied territories and everywhere else it decides. Let us not forget that they laid waste to most of Lebanon around the time I started getting involved in this issue. They destroyed airports, hospitals, any public buildings they could.
They are running riot and it seems unlikely that running over there and playing the violin will have any lasting effect.
DC: Have you personally asked any fellow musicians to boycott Israel?