Roger Waters, you do need some education

Roger Waters is a leading celebrity in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. (Ernesto S. Ruscio/Getty Images)

We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teacher, leave them kids alone …
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall

IF you were a teenager in 1979 or in the early 1980s the lyrics above written by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters would for many have been your own catch cry, just as Bob Dylan’s ”The times they are a changin” was in the mid-’60s, writes Uri Butnaru.

The film that accompanied the song was captivating in its Orwellian setting combining an animated band of marching hammers and a real school choir made up of menacing children singing the anthem above.

The hit song was written by bassist Waters before he found his other calling in life as one of the leading ill-informed agitators and spokespeople for the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel.

It seems that when it comes to the Jewish State, Waters lives by the Another Brick in the Wall creed that we don’t need no education.

His ill-founded criticism of Israel has been a litany of biased misinformation.

In recent months, Waters has been urging Eurovision contestants not to perform in Israel this week. While no one has taken these brutish protests seriously, it is not for his lack of trying.

Over the years, Waters has criticised Israel’s construction of the separation wall with no understanding why it was built. So despite his aversion to education, here is a small spoonful of information: The separation wall was built in response to all the suicide bombings perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists that killed hundreds of innocent Israelis going about their daily lives in the 1990s.

Waters also cannot stop labelling democratic Israel as an apartheid state. Again his non-education needs addressing. There is no apartheid system in place. There is no written legislation in which discrimination is enshrined as there was in South Africa from the late 1940s.

In fact, Arab Israelis have full rights under Israeli law and, indeed, a better standard of living than many of their brethren in neighbouring Arab countries. 

As far as the territories of Judea and Samaria go, it requires both sides to sit down and negotiate borders, taking into account intricate historical, geographical and geopolitical realities, as well as a complex web of international resolutions, demarcation lines and armistice agreements. With some of the greatest minds of our time tasked with bringing a resolution to this dispute, I do not think an ageing minstrel with a clearly prejudiced agenda has anything to add.

Though he denies it, many see his obsession with Israel as morphing into antisemitism as with the inflatable pig featured in a 2013 Waters’ concert, emblazoned with the Star of David, or the times he has compared Israel to Nazi Germany.

No one denies Waters his right to protest, but as a celebrity with a very public platform, he has a duty to do so responsibly.

Real life is not a theatre or a concert venue. There are profound implications for the statements you make from the stage. And unless you have years of knowledge and are educated about the whole issue – not just one side’s propaganda – you should not abuse your celebrity status to preach to the masses.

Indeed, in this day and age in particular when anyone with a smartphone can follow public figures on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, there is an even greater risk of millions being majorly misled by those who peddle skewed and slanted information.

All in all – as Waters himself might say – if we don’t counter the fictions and falsehoods that the Pink Floyd frontman and others of his ilk churn out, there’ll be one less brick in the wall that separates the truth from the lies.

Uri Butnaru is a freelance writer from Sydney.