I’m proud that both my children have a serious appreciation for Classic Rock, one of a select few testaments that I brought them up right. My 20-year-old son’s bedroom walls are adorned with memorabilia of years gone by, my favorite being a hand-sketched reproduction of Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia performing together. My 16-year-old daughter, while equally enthusiastic, has designated her walls mostly to her own creations, all of which — in my unbiased opinion — are quite impressive.
Of my son’s most prized displays, dear to him in part because it was a bar mitzvah gift from one of his closest friends, is an album cover of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” the group’s 11th studio album, released in 1979. While the record belongs to the group, aficionados know that its lyrical composition is the product of its bassist and lead vocalist, Roger Waters, who in fact has titled his most recent concert tour “The Wall Live.”
Considering Waters’ long and sordid history of Israel bashing, it would probably strike him as extremely ironic that this album cover hangs in the childhood room of an IDF Golani commander. It has certainly struck me as such, and recently with Waters’ tirades going increasingly beyond the pale, it has become difficult for me to fathom. So I contacted my son, Max, and sent him an article detailing some of Waters’ recent statements from an interview in Counterpunch Magazine comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, accusing it of “ethnic cleansing,” and labeling it a “systematic racist apartheid Israeli regime.” When asked why some of his colleagues have defied his call for the cultural boycott of Israel, Waters responded, “The Jewish lobby is extraordinarily powerful here, and particularly in the industry that I work in.” I titled my email to Max, “Time to take The Wall off the wall.”
Now let me clarify something. My parenting style — for better or worse — has generally been of a consultative nature. While this record cover hangs in my house, it is in Max’s room, he is 20 years old and, as noted, he is an Israeli soldier. Thus, my inclination was to leave the decision mostly to him, though I also wanted to hear from my daughter, Jessica, a junior at SAR High School, and my wife, Debbie, both of whom usually view things more progressively than I.
I explained to them that this was beyond the “art versus politics” debate, beyond whether one supports Palestinian rights and statehood, even beyond advocating boycotts of Israel. It might have been different had Waters used the term “pro-Israel lobby,” allowing for the fact that there are influential Jews who agree with his politics, and influential gentiles who don’t. But by invoking the old, bigoted stereotype of the powerful Jew, Waters has shown his true colors.
In the end, surprisingly, there was unanimous consent — a rarity in these parts — without me having to push at all. Not so surprising was that Max, though agreeable, was the least enthusiastic. I think there are two reasons for this. First, the album cover has great sentimental value to him as a gift from a treasured friend. Second, as he put it, “Abba, who cares what he thinks? A lot of people hate us.”
This is not new. He believes I read “too much” and have a propensity to overreact. I think the difference between us is that he’s actually doing something, while all I do is read and get angry. I explained this to him, and it seemed to resonate.
So Roger Waters is officially off the wall, but not completely gone. Unable to bring myself to destroy him or throw him out, I put him in one of Max’s drawers, praying for the day when he and others of his ilk will see the light. May that day come, bimheirah b’yameinu, speedily in our time.
Andrew Kane is an author and occasional contributor to the Back of the Book page.