Protest over BDS rocker’s tour

Roger Waters. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images/JTA

JEWISH leaders have criticised Telstra’s promotion of an Australian tour by former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, noting his deep involvement with the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Politicising the band’s 1979 album, The Wall, as a metaphor for Israel’s security barrier, Waters has railed against the “Jewish lobby”, comparing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to Nazism.

He has also publicly discouraged other musicians from performing in Israel.

Telstra has come under fire for offering its customers priority booking for Waters’ February tour.

A change.org petition asks the telco to dissociate itself from his concerts.

“Why should we as a community, living in one of the most multicultural cities in the world, support a company that chooses to support someone such as Roger Waters who supports the BDS movement, which does nothing towards a cause for peace?” asks Melbourne musician Peter Bretman in his petition.

“They obviously don’t value our business.”

In a Facebook post, he added, “Boycott Telstra! Sign and share my petition!” Bretman told The AJN he is “infuriated that Telstra is using my money to partner in promoting someone who’s so blatantly biased”.

His petition follows the launch of Israeli website wedontneednorogerwaters.com, which urges a boycott of Waters’ concerts.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim said Waters “champions the personal boycott of Israeli performers, academics and artists, but not those of any other nationality, and he actively bullies and browbeats others to join him.

“Telstra and other [supporters] of the tour, having now been made aware of this background, will be regarded by members of our community as complicit in Waters’ use of his visit to Australia to promote his views”.

Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said Waters was “dissatisfied with the string of high-profile bands and artists who would dare think for themselves and choose to play in Israel despite his bullying” and now resorted to “lengthy anti-Israel rants”.

Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dvir Abramovich called on Telstra and concert organiser Live Nation “to ensure that his Australian concert is not used to bash Israel and promote divisive and dangerous stereotypes about Jews”.

However, while condemning Waters’ activities, Zionist Federation of Australia president Danny Lamm cautioned against “calling boycotts of our own”.

A Telstra spokesperson said, “Telstra partners with tour promoters to give our customers pre-sale access to many local and international artist music tours each year”.

“We are not a corporate sponsor of this act.”

PETER KOHN