Former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters privately appealed to British musician and songwriter Alan Parsons to cancel his performance Tuesday in Israel, but Parsons firmly rebuffed that appeal, declaring in a Facebook post, “Music knows no borders, and neither do I.”
Waters is a prominent supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and routinely urges artists to shun the Jewish state over what he describes as its “apartheid” policy toward the Palestinians.
“I am writing to ask you to reconsider those plans. I know you to be a talented and thoughtful man, so I assume you know of the plight of the Palestinians and that there is a growing nonviolent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement protesting against the abusive policies of the Israeli government,” Waters wrote in his first letter to Parsons, which he also posted on Facebook. “While I know you don’t want to disappoint your fans by canceling this gig, you would be sending a powerful message to them and the world by doing so.”
Waters noted that Parsons replied “but asked me not to publish his reply.”
In a follow-up note, Waters accused Parsons of crossing “the picket line to play in Israel” and appealed to him to reconsider his position.
Parsons clearly did not reconsider his position, and instead late Monday posted messages on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram expressing his gratitude to his Israeli fans, and showing enthusiasm for Tuesday night’s nearly sold-out show.
Parsons criticized Waters for airing their disagreement on social media, writing:
Roger Waters honored my request not to publish my reply to his first letter to me, but he failed to comply with my clearly stated desire that the whole matter of his ‘problem’ with my concert in Israel should remain private between the two of us. He has now pressed his case in two open letters on his Facebook page without any published defense from me. So in the circumstances, I have decided to make my (originally personal) reply to him public – see below. I will be making no further comment on this matter and thank all our Israeli fans in advance for their loyalty, support, and for attending our show in Tel Aviv.
In his now-public letter to Waters, Parsons wrote, “I appreciate your note and your passion. However, this is a political matter and I am simply an artist. I create music, that is my raison d’être. Everyone – no matter where they reside, what religion they follow, or what ideology they aspire to – deserves to hear it if they so choose.”
“Music knows no borders, and neither do I,” Parsons wrote.
Along with his post, Parsons showed a photo of him being interviewed on Israel television on Tuesday and posted a photo of himself and other members of the Alan Parsons Live Project on Instagram preparing for their concert.
Earlier, Parsons told Israeli music students, “I don’t mix music and politics. … I see music as a superior thing and I will perform wherever I am invited to. I perform for people who enjoy listening to my music.”
The pro-Israel blog Israellycool on Sunday noted that Waters presented some erroneous facts in his correspondence with Parsons, specifically the number of Palestinian civilians killed in last summer’s hostilities between Israel and Hamas, many of whom it was later discovered were Hamas fighters.
The blog also said Waters appeared to be “giving Hamas and company a free pass” when he accused Israel of using “human shields” as Hamas stored and fired multiple rockets from schools, hospitals and mosques.
Parsons has been cultivating his Israeli fan base over the years with a performance in 2010. The Israeli news site Ynet reported last month that he had plans to produce an album with top Israeli singer/songwriter Aviv Geffen. Parsons’ bass player, Guy Erez, is a native of Israel.
Waters and Parsons collaborated on Pink Floyd’s 1973 “Dark Side of the Moon” album – one of the most iconic productions in rock history – for which Parsons was music engineer and for which he was nominated for a Grammy.