Earlier this month, Roger Waters called out the UK Pink Floyd Experience tribute band for booking a string of shows in Israel in January 2019, saying he’s “shocked” and urging the group to cancel the gigs.
At first, the band silently removed the concerts from their tour dates and deactivated its official Facebook page, which is still down.
But now, the tribute act has spoken up, saying it is contractually obliged to perform in the country. Their note reads:
“In January 2017 the show was invited to perform in Israel, four shows in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Be’er Sheva. The shows got a wonderful reception from friendly and enthusiastic audiences.
“Earlier this year the show was invited back for a similar short tour, which we accepted. Our decision to accept the invitations to play in Israel were completely non-political and neither endorses nor criticizes anyone’s political views in this situation.
“We are obliged to fulfill our contractual obligation to perform in Israel in January 2019. However, we have changed our set and will perform a one-off special concert together with Israeli Pink Floyd Tribute Band Echoes.
“We deeply regret the upset caused by all of this, it was far from our intention to stir up all this anger and hatred, when the opposite was what was intended.
“In hindsight, it was very naive to think our motives would not be misunderstood and misrepresented.
“Profits from this trip will go to the charity UNICEF.”
The Jerusalem Post reports that the concert organizers from EGOeast Productions said that “the tribute band will be performing its three concerts as originally scheduled, on January 4 in Beersheba, January 5 in Tel Aviv and January 6 in Haifa.”
Ziv Rubinstein, a musician and one of the producers from EGOeast, stated:
“It was a terrible situation, their lives were threatened, they were very scared, they deleted their Facebook page. But we know the people who are in the band, and we know they are people who love Israel, who have appeared here in the past. We talked to them and spoke to their heart.”
The source adds that Rubinstein said the production company “tried to explain to them that at the end of the day, we’re talking about art, and we’re talking about music, and they have a big fan base here,” adding that the band took “a brave step” in rescheduling the shows, knowing that “they will face attacks again.”
The Times of Israel reports that Rubenstein said:
“I used this thing called words. I used the ammunition that Mr. Waters uses, which is his words.
“We convinced them. I found myself doing diplomacy for Israel, but it wasn’t political. This isn’t politics. We’re musicians and you have to separate music and politics. I told them that the audiences come out because they love the music, and not because of any one person’s politics.
“They wanted to come. They’ve been here before, but they were scared. They were threatened by Mr. Waters.
“It’s the music and the love of music, and that’s much bigger than the man himself. The creation is bigger than him. For the meantime, we’re the winners.”
Waters responded with the following post through his social channels:
“In the Jerusalem Post, Ziv Rubinstein says he flew to England to speak to the band and ‘spoke to their HEART’ for a week.
“Hmmm! According to the band’s spokesperson, [bassist/singer/show producer] Dave Power, Rubinstein ‘spent days explaining to him and the rest of the band that, he, ‘Rubinstein’ and ‘EGO concerts’ the promoters would sue ‘UK Pink Floyd Experience’ relentlessly, and that, he, ‘Dave Powers’ would be broken financially and would probably lose his house.’
“After a week of HEART to HEART, the band caved.
“I’m sorry you buckled boys, I could, and would, have helped you resist had you asked. It has been suggested that I published your phone numbers as an act of spite. I don’t know any of your phone numbers. It’s just part of the Israeli lobby’s Hasbara, trying to paint me as a wicked bully rather than a concerned human rights activist.
“You have told my management that you’ll be doing a set in Israel without performing any of my songs. Well, thank you for that small concession, it won’t bring back the dead or help end the occupation, but please post the set list.
“I’ll be most interested. I assume it will comprise Syd’s songs, ‘Great Gig,’ ‘Fat Old Sun,’ and post-1985 material? Please ask the Israeli tribute band who share the bill with you to denounce their country’s apartheid policies during their set. I hope they, like you, are not playing any of my songs. I bear you no ill will.”
Roger accompanied his statement with older video footage in which he talks about Israel and Palestine. In the clip, Waters says (transcribed by UG):
“You are going to entertain the people who shot the feet of Palestinian footballers. There’s two kids – 18-year-olds – they’ve been to the local football stadium pitch to train, dreamed of playing one at some point for Palestine.
“And some IDF soldiers decided to shoot – they shot one kid seven times in one foot four times it the other. So obviously they’ll never play soccer and they’ll never walk again.
“‘Oh, you know, I’m a musician – I just want to play my music, I don’t want Roger Waters bullying me.’ What?! They’re shooting the fucking feet of 18-year-olds who want to play soccer! Don’t talk to me about your freedom of speech! Pay attention!
“I mean, I do care about it passionately but I don’t have to live there. I’m not a Palestinian. I don’t have to get my door kicked in every night by whoever wants to. In Palestine, this happens to people constantly, and even to children as we’ve seen recently with [17-year-old Palestinian activist] Ahed Tamimi.
“Do we believe in law or not? Do we consider that human beings – individual human beings – have rights?
“The Israelis have been time-wasting since 1948. They pretended that they were going to go along with the UN mandate that there should be two states – if they were having a state, that there should be a Palestinian state as well. But they never had any intention of not taking over the whole thing.
“From 1948 on, they have been systematically making life on the earth that is Palestine intolerable for the indigenous people in an attempt to drive them into neighboring countries, into refugee camps, so that they can take over.
“At least now they’re sort of admitting it. Because it’s like, it was so obvious for so many years, but it’s almost impossible for [the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin] Netanyahu now to kind of say the same thing again and again without kind of tittering up his sleeve.
“All you people in this room, your efforts are not in vain and I’m seeing it in the United States. It’s kind of very perceptible on the surface because the mainstream media will not report it.
“But I speak to lots of people and I hear it and certainly in the Jewish community in the United States of America – support for Israel and it’s appalling colonialist policies and it’s racism and apartheid, that support for them is diminishing at a great rate, particularly amongst the young.
“Because this is a global effort and it is really beginning to gain some purchase. And that makes me really happy. Ordinary people standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other ordinary people who may live 10,000 miles away but who nevertheless we support and have sympathy with their predicament. That is what makes us human.”