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August 30, 2013

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PAGE 4A By Ben Cohen HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 30, 2013 Pink Floyd's Roger Waters and his #BDS Fail Back in 1976, when the burgeoning punk movement began transforming the rock 'n' roll landscapes of London and New York, a young man named John Lydon scrawled the words"I Hate..." on his Pink Floyd t-shirt. With this one stroke, Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, the lead singer of The Sex Pistols,, demarcated the past from the future: eschewing the lengthy and ponderous compositions of Floyd's front man, Roger Waters, Rotten and his mates set about delivering sharp, angry tunes in a compact three-minute format. Almost 40 years later, popular music has undergone numerous other transformations, but Rotten (who now calls himself Lydon again) andjWaters have remained polar op- posites. And as Israelis know better than most, that's true both inside and outside the recording studio. Back in 2010, Lydon rounded on critics of hs decision to play a gig in Tel Aviv by telling them, "I have absolutely one rule, right? Uotil I see an Arab country--a Muslim country-- with a democracy, I won't understand how anyone can have a problem with how they (the Palestinians) are treated." By contrast, Waters--outwardly, a much more refined and eloquent fellow--has firmly hitched himself to the movement pressing for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Waters's support for. BDS is thought to be the reason that his scheduled appearance at the 92nd Street Y in New York City was canceled back in April, while more recently, he tussled with the Simon,Wiesenthal Center over an accusation of anti-Semitism that stemmed from a feature of his live show, in which a Star of David is projected onto a flying inflatable pig. In his response to the Wiesenthal Center, Waters stridently denied that he was an anti-Semite, coming out with the standard response that hating Zionism and hating Jews are completely distinct. But a subsequent letter written in August to "My Colleagues in Rock 'n' Roll"--as you can see, his legendary pomposity remains unaltered--is certain to revive the charge. This time, it's hard to see how Waters can wriggle around it. The letter begins by citing another Brit- ish musician, violinist Nigel Kennedy, who slammed Israeli "apartheid" during a recent concert that was recorded by the BBC. "Nothing unusual there you might think," Waters wrote, "then one Baroness Deech, (nee Fraenkel) disputed the fact that Israel is an apartheid state and prevailed upon the BBC to censor Kennedy's performance by removing his statement." Why did Waters think it necessary to point out the maiden name of Baroness Ruth Deech, a noted academic and lawyer? The answer's obvious: before she was Deech, a name that resonates with English respect- ability, she was Fraenkel, a name that sounds positively, well, Jewish. And much as she might try to hide her origins, the intrepid Waters is determined to out her, along with her nefarious Jewish--sorry, I mean, Zion- ist--agenda. Sarcasm aside, this is anti-Semitism of the ugliest, most primitive kind. Appropriately, Waters' letter appeared first on the website of the Electronic Intifada, a resolutely anti- Semitic U.S.-based Outfit that has emerged as one of the prime organizing platforms of the BDS movement. The Waters letter ends as follows: "Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejec- tion of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Pal- estine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit. in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with interriational law and universal principles of human rights." In case it's not clear, in the BDS movement, such elaborate formulations are code for "until such time as the State of Israel, which was born in a state of original sin, is finally eliminated." Here's the rub, though: 10 years ago, when the BDS movement was a relatively new phe- nomenon, statements like these would have set off a minor panic in the Jewish world. These days, we're far more sanguine, and we've learned that the State of Israel can survive and flourish no matter how many graying prog-rockers like Roger Waters dedicate their lives to removing the world's only Jewish state from the map. A hashtag on Twitter that's popular with pro-Israel activists, #BDSFail, neatly encap- sulates my point. Responding to Waters, the Israeli model and actress Bar Refaeli, who normally sets pulses racing for other reasons, demanded that the singer remove her picture from the multimedia show that accompanies his live set. "If you're boycotting," she teased, "go all the way." A Times of Israel blog by a writer who uses the name "Brian of London" helpfully listed the artists who have defied the intimidation of the BDS movement by playing in Israel. Among them: Depeche Mode, Julio Iglesias and the inimitable Pet Shop Boys. Not men- tioned: -Morrissey, the former lead singer of The Smiths, one of my favorite bands, who asked his Tel Aviv audience in 2012 "Mah Nishmah?" ("How Are You?" in Hebrew), and wrapped himself in the Israeli flag. As unpalatable as this may be for Roger Waters's digestion, the plain truth is that the BDS movement has failed. Its original aim was to replicate the massive outcry against South African apartheid during the 1980s, when songs like "Free Nelson Mandela" and "(I Ain't Gonna Play) Sun City" ruled the airwaves. Instead, it has remained a fringe movement, a minor irritant that has had pre- cious little impact on Israel's economic life and garners media attention only when someone .like Waters decides to shoot his mouth off. We've arrived at this happy situation for several reasons, among them the growing realization, as articulated by John Lydon, that there is something absurd about boyCot- ting Israel when the states that surround it engage in egregious human rights violations. Waters won't play in Israel, but he was quite happy to play in Dubai in 2007--an Arab city almost entirely built by slave labor imported from Muslim c6untries like Pakistan and Bangladesh. If other stars grasp the appalling hypocrisy this represents, then having Roger Waters indulge his hatred of Israel at every opportunity is a price worth paying. Ben Cohen is the Shillman analyst for JNS. org. His writings on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics have been published in Com- mentary, the New York Post, Ha'aretz, Jewish Ideas Daily and many other publications. both Sh,pley speaks. ilg g D a o ue oes ways By Gary Rosenblatt editor in chief and CEO of JTA, to meetwith the ...... New York Jewish Week journalists, and we had a lively, off-the-record V discussion that centered on our perceptions, Jim Shiple Much attention, hereand elsewhere, isgiven and misperceptions, of each other!s culture. to encouragingAmerican Jews to have a deeper They seemed to agree with my observation that I understanding of contemporary Israel, in all its complexity, as a country that is seen by much of the world as Goliath while it perceives itself as David. But for all of our emphasis on the importaace of the relationship between diaspora and Israeli Jews, our Mideast cousins get a pass; there is far too little focus on the responsibility of Israeli Jews to know us better. In truth, most Israelis have little under- standing or appreciation of the diversity and depth of our community. And when they are exposed to the layers of religious denomina- tions and the number and range of social service, defense and startup organizations in the United States, they tend to come away pleasantly surprised. Just back from a Visit to the U.S.,. Nadav Eyal, who heads the foreign news desk for Israel TV's Channel 10, says he plans to share with his audience how the American Jewish community "manages to maintain differences within itself." He told me he was impressed to gee that Orthodox and Reform rabbis here can take part in communal programs together, all too rare in Israel, where "the divide is so wide, and the sentiments so strong." Eyal, who is also a commentator for Maariv, was one of six leading Israeli journalists visiting the U.S. last month as part of a seminar, spon- sored by the Ruderman Family Foundation, to deepen the Israeli media's understanding of the American Jewish community and its relationship with Israel. I had the opportunity, along with Ami Eden, there is little serious coverage in the Israeli media of American Jewry beyond our politi- cal and financial support for Jerusalem. They blamed tight budgets, but also acknowledged that, for example, a visit to Boston's Mayyim Hayyim, a nondenominational mikveh used for a variety of spiritual occasions, would make for an eye-opening story back home where mikveh use is associated only with Orthodoxy. Yair Ettinger, who reports on religious is- sues for Haaretz and was a the seminar, wrote an essay when he returned to Israel entitled "Our Uncle From America: A Family Divided." He noted that "the distanc- ing of American Jews from Israel is gaining momentum," a development most Israelis are unaware of, he went on, "because Israel shows little interest in understanding American Jewry." This distancing, according to Ettinger, is due in part to the feeling among miny non-Orthodox American Jews that issues of importance to them, from lack of recognition of Conservative and Reform rabbis by the Israeli chief rabbinate to Women of the Wall's struggle to pray equally at the Kotel, are of little interest or appreciation in the Jewish state. Ettinger believes Israel's "Jewish uncle from America" is "still willing to help, but today he has an agenda, conditions and his own spiritual world," as well as a Jewish identity which may no longer be dependent on Israel. The notion that American Jews may be actively engaged in Jewish life "far away from Rosenblatt on page 26A " THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT.  CENTRAL FLORIDA'SINDEPENDENTJEWISHVOICE   1SSN 0199-0721 Winner 0f43 Press Awards Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Stare Kirn Fischer Chris DeSouza Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Barbara do Carrno Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky David Bornstein Ed Ziegler Production Department David Lehman Dawn Lucchitti Elaine Schooping Gil Domhrosky HERITAGE Florida Jewish News ( ISN 0199-0721 ) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 email: Another shot I don't know, maybe it is age, but the years roll around awfully fast (yeah, it's age). Was it afuil year ago we were preparing for the High Holy Days? OK, so we know that Jewish holidays are never "on time." "Oy! Didn't Yom Kippur come early this year?" "Passover is when? Too late this year!" The drill is the same. Ten days to figure out whom you really wronged over the past year and make amends. That is highly subjective. Did I really wrong him? "Ah--he deserved it and besides he wouldn't even notice!" That's not the idea and he probably did-- both things. This according to our sages, is not enough. You know when you were wrong and you know to whom. So, 'fess up and make the call. Tough one is the second half. Standing be- fore God with an empty stomach and coming to grips with your personal failures over this past year. That's tough. You are being asked to identify your own failures. And, in theory you are facing a being, a philosophy, an omniscient "God" that already knows what the real failures were this past year. Probably does not involve money, much as you may think different. It is, I am afraid, not so much the things we have done as much as the things we have not done. As the world has gone digital, one of the victims has been the' daily newspaper. Not only do we do so much 'eading on line, we do a lot without checking the reliability of the source. Sowe can so easily spread"Lashon Harra"-- false accusations and gossip that appear as credible as the truth when they drip from the computer screen. How many times in this past year did we engage in tikun olam, the duty of every Jew to heal the world?" There remains so much" misery and injustice in the world that there certainly is enough for all of us to do--and most of it without any great sacrifice on our part. Tikun olam reaches beyond faith, color, nationality. Wrong is wrong. And righting wrong is what healing the world is all about. Chances are you cannot take off for Israel on short notice and find a project in need. Money--yeah, there's always that. Stand before your God and tell him (or her) that you dispensed money to this or that cause. And that's good! But where was yz)ur personal involvement? What emotions or passions did this involve. Do you actually know the life or lives of those toward whom you wrote that check? We Jews have always been at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. First of all because we are intimately involved. Anti-Semitism in today's world? Damn straight! But what have you done about the Voter Suppression Acts that are roiling states across the nation? Have you voiced concern to your state or national representatives? Attended a town meeting? Blogged? Jews have always been leaders in any movement'for positive change. This is no time to stop and this time of year is a great one for reflecting on what our true responsibilities are as Jews. Hey! Did not mean to get "preachy" but as I contemplated this column I looked inward and decided--you know, I am not fully taking my responsibility as a Jew--not enough. So, this is for me at least as much as for you, dear reader, to reflect on. The world is in at least as much chaos this year as last. As Jews we look at what was called the Arab Spring and see what that has wrought. Nations that were cobbled together by European interests after the first World War breaking apart, as they had to eventually. Egypt, the largest of them in such turmoil as our new year approaches, we wonder what new pharaoh will emerge. The Muslim Broth- erhood was not and is not a friend to Israel or any Jew. But what will the crackdown bring? More jihadists? Look to Syria and realize this is not a civil war as much as a religious battle between various types of Islam. What possible good can this do Israel? Israel remains strong and resolute. Its new government is wrestling with a number of internal' issues and hey, they are all Jews, so the arguments go on. Look, be a good Jew this yar. Tell God you will take care of your own little corner. Based on what I just wrote, it is apparent that he has enough on his hands without your kvetches. Shana tova to all of you. May this indeed be a sweet year and one where we gather those who count around us and bask in the joys of belonging to such an amazing people. Looking at history, I guess we have no right to be still here. But here we are. And next year at this time let us be :ible to tell God that, - yeah, we did good.