Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, an advocate of boycotting Israel, won’t be available for a controversial April 30th appearance at the 92nd Street Y, the Jewish cultural hotspot told its patrons Thursday.
“We heard from Roger Waters that he is unable to appear at the event scheduled for April 30,” reads an email from the Y. ” No further explanation for the cancellation was given, and the Y told The Jewish Week it would have no comment.
The 69-year-old composer, guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has built a wall between himself and Israel supporters, saying the Israeli government ” runs an apartheid regime in Israel, the occupied territories and everywhere else it decides” and has urged fellow musicians not to perform there. Last year he called on fellow musician Stevie Wonder to cancel a planned appearance at a Los Angeles fundraiser for Freinds of the Israel Defense Forces, also drawing a comparison to apartheid South Africa. Wonder did not appear at the event.
The Y did not say in its listing whether Waters would discuss his views on Israel, saying only “Join him as he looks back over his career.”
Following the cancellation, the Jewish Community Reations Council of New York said the Y was an inappropriate forum for Waters. “We are very pleased that a vocal supporter of the BDS movement will not be given a platform at a Jewish institution,” said Hindy Poupko, the group’s director of Israel and International Affairs.
An organization called JCCWatch, which monitors events at the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan and criticizes those it considers anti-Israel or tied to the BDS movement, had called on 92nd St. Y director Sol Adler to cancel the Waters appearance. A call to Adler was referred to the Y’s public relations department.
The extent to which the Jewish community should respond to the movement calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel has become a hot-button topic, with some leaders and organizations saying that protesting against them only gives them more notoriety. Others say it’s essential to prevent that BDS movement from gaining momentum.
“Waters accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid” and “international crimes” in a speech to the United Nations, and led a boycott against the Israel Philharmonic’s performance at Carnegie Hall,” wrote the JCCWatch group in a mass email on March 26. “UJA-Federation gives $800,000 to the 92nd Street Y. Jewish donations are helping to provide Waters with a facility, marketing, and respectability, so he can win over more people with his anti-Israel lies.”