Choosing To Stand on the Side of Justice (Or Not)

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White bread pop stars Bon Jovi went ahead with their planned Tel Aviv gig last weekend, thumbing their nose at several calls and petitions for them to cancel in support of the cultural boycott of Israel. The most impassioned call came from longtime BDS activist Roger Waters, who in a blistering open letter offered a powerful "incantation" of crimes against Palestinians, noted he has likewise challenged other entertainers "not to give succor to the Israeli government’s apartheid policies," and charged that Bon Jovi, by performing there, was complicit with "decades of Israeli oppression of Palestinians."

Published in Salon, the letter regretfully acknowledged the band's stated intention to proceed with the performance despite protests. "So the die is cast," Waters wrote. "You are making your stand. You stand shoulder to shoulder/With the settler who burned the baby/With the bulldozer driver who crushed Rachel Corrie/With the soldier who shot the soccer player’s feet to bits/With the sailor who shelled the boys on the beach/With the sniper who killed the kid in the green shirt/And the one who emptied his clip into the 13-year-old girl/And the Minister of Justice who called for genocide."

He went on to note, "You had a chance to stand (on) the side of justice" with those who have fasted, gone to prison, refused to bomb camps and otherwise confronted Israeli injustices. "The dead can’t remind you of the crimes you’ve ignored. But, lest we forget, 'To stand by silent and indifferent is the greatest crime of all.'”

The public clash drew some nasty swipes from mainstream media about "boycott buffoons" and "the odious BDS movement," and an incendiary rant from radio shock jock and Israel supporter Howard Stern, which Palestinians promptly deemed "racist." The Bon Jovi show drew enthusiastic audiences, a "meh" review, and a few days later, in a likely but nonetheless serendipitous coincidence, another snub from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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