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Roger Waters performing in Dublin in 2013.

Roger Waters performing in Dublin in 2013. (Photo: Sean Rowe/flickr/cc) 

Roger Waters to Madonna: Don't Normalize Violations of Palestinians' Rights With Performance in Tel Aviv

"I suppose I'm calling on everyone involved in what I see as Eurovision's betrayal of our joint humanity to focus on their capacity to empathize with their Palestinian brothers and sisters."

Andrea Germanos

Continuing his call to musicians to boycott an upcoming international song competition, rock legend Roger Waters on Wednesday urged Madonna not to perform at a Tel Aviv contest.

The venue at issue is the Eurovision Song Contest, which takes place mid-May. Madonna's press team confirmed this month that she'd be performing. But in so doing, according to Waters, Madonna would be ignoring the Israeli occupation's deprivation of Palestinians' human rights.

In op-ed published Wednesday at the The Guardian, Waters wrote that Madonna's acceptance of the invitation to perform raises "fundamentally important ethical and political questions for each and every one of us to contemplate."

Referencing the United Nations' seven decade-old Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Waters wrote that all people must be afforded "the right to life, liberty, and self-determination."

Anyone who says they agree with that declaration, he wrote, must acknowledge "the people of Palestine who live under a deeply repressive apartheid regime of occupation and do not enjoy the right to life, liberty, and self-determination."

Waters made the issue broader than an appeal to Madonna.

"Some of my fellow musicians who have recently performed in Israel say they are doing it to build bridges and further the cause of peace. Bullshit," wrote Waters.

"To perform in Israel is a lucrative gig," he wrote, "but to do so serves to normalize the occupation, the apartheid, the ethnic cleansing, the incarceration of children, the slaughter of unarmed protesters … all that bad stuff."

"I suppose I'm calling on everyone involved in what I see as Eurovision's betrayal of our joint humanity to focus on their capacity to empathize with their Palestinian brothers and sisters," he wrote.

Pointing to the human rights declaration's 30 articles, Waters added, "If we all abided by them we might yet save our beautiful planet from its imminent destruction."

He also laid down the gauntlet last month to Portugal's Eurovision pick Conan Osiris, as well as the other finalists of the competition.

"There are 42 finalists, among them we will find the one," Waters wrote on his Facebook page. "The one who has enough love in their heart to stand up and be counted."

"To say, 'I believe in universal human and civil rights and protection under the law for all my brothers and sisters all over the world irrespective of ethnicity, nationality or religion.' 'I will not cross the Palestinian picket line to perform in apartheid Tel Aviv until all my brothers and sisters from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea have equal rights under the law.' The one who will be remembered for standing on the right side of history, standing for love, true peace, and justice," he wrote.

Waters hasn't been alone in this call.

In a letter published in January the former Pink Floyd front-man was part of a group of artists including musician Peter Gabriel, actor Julie Christie, and designer Vivienne Westwood who urged the BBC not to screen the competition from Israel.

The network, they wrote, "should act on its principles and press for Eurovision to be relocated to a country where crimes against that freedom [to self-determination] are not being committed."


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