Defying Roger Waters, Pink Floyd tribute band reinstates Israel tour
Us and them

Defying Roger Waters, Pink Floyd tribute band reinstates Israel tour

Israeli promoter Ziv Rubinstein says he convinced musicians to reverse last week’s decision to cancel amid heavy boycott pressure, threats

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

The band members of UK Pink Floyd Experience, which performed in Israel in January 2019, after originally canceling following intense pressure from BDS activist Roger Waters (Courtesy EGOEast Productions)
The band members of UK Pink Floyd Experience, which performed in Israel in January 2019, after originally canceling following intense pressure from BDS activist Roger Waters (Courtesy EGOEast Productions)

A Pink Floyd cover band has rescheduled its concerts in Israel a week after previously scrapping the planned performances under heavy pressure from the frontman of the original band, Roger Waters, to boycott the Jewish state.

When UK Pink Floyd Experience canceled its three scheduled concerts last week following heavy boycott pressure from the singer and vocal proponent of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Israeli promoter Ziv Rubinstein got on a plane and flew out to talk them out of their decision.

“I used this thing called words,” said Rubinstein, a musician and promoter at EGOEast Productions. “I used the ammunition that Mr. Waters uses, which is his words.”

Last week, Waters set his protest in motion, writing a viciously anti-Israel post on Facebook and publicizing the personal phone numbers of members of the tribute band. The band members of UK Pink Floyd Experience ended up taking down their Facebook page and canceling their planned performances in Israel.

Rubinstein and other members of the EGOEast team later met with each of the tribute band members, he said.

“We convinced them,” he said. “I found myself doing diplomacy for Israel, but it wasn’t political. This isn’t politics. We’re musicians and you have to separate music and politics. I told them that the audiences come out because they love the music, and not because of any one person’s politics.”

Rubinstein said he spent an entire week with the band, working to convince them to reinstate their performances in Israel on January 4, 5 and 6, in Beersheba, Tel Aviv and Haifa.

“They wanted to come,” he said. “They’ve been here before, but they were scared. They were threatened by Mr. Waters.”

Rubinstein said he was ultimately able to convince the UK Pink Floyd Experience to reinstate its concert dates and come to Israel. The UK band will be performing with Echoes, a local Israeli Pink Floyd tribute band.

“We are obliged to fulfill our contractual obligation to perform in Israel in January 2019. However, we have changed our set and will perform a one-off special concert together with Israeli Pink Floyd Tribute Band “Echoes,” the band said in a statement on its website on Tuesday. “We deeply regret the upset caused by all of this, it was far from our intention to stir up all this anger and hatred, when the opposite was what was intended. In hindsight, it was very naive to think our motives would not be misunderstood and misrepresented. Profits from this trip will go to the charity UNICEF.”

It was not entirely clear what the band meant by a one-off concert, since tickets for the three Israel concerts were on sale on Tuesday.

The music of Pink Floyd, Rubinstein said, is beloved in Israel, despite the machinations of its creator Waters.

“It’s the music and the love of music, and that’s much bigger than the man himself. The creation is bigger than him. For the meantime, we’re the winners.”

UK Pink Floyd Experience performed in Tel Aviv in 2017 in Tel Aviv.

Waters had penned a post on Facebook lambasting the group’s latest plans. “To sing my songs in front of segregated audiences in Israel, and contribute to the cultural whitewashing of the racist and apartheid government of that country, would be an act of unconscionable malice and disrespect,” he wrote.

“The people you intend to entertain are executing their neighbor’s children, shooting them down in cold blood every day.”

A note from Roger to UK Pink Floyd Experience:I am aghast to see you have plans to perform in Tel Aviv, Haifa and…

Posted by Roger Waters on Friday, 7 December 2018

Waters is known for publicly harassing artists scheduled to visit Israel or perform there as part of a campaign by the BDS movement — Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — which calls on musicians to shun Israel.

In September some 140 artists, including Waters, called for a boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest, which is to be held in Israel next year.

Having previously defended Waters from accusations of anti-Semitism, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in 2013 said “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories” have “seeped into the totality” of the former Pink Floyd frontman’s views.

The ADL was responding to comments Water made in an interview with Counterpunch magazine comparing Israeli treatment of the Palestinians to Nazi Germany. “Judging by his remarks, Roger Waters has absorbed classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and these have now seeped into the totality of his views,” Abraham H. Foxman, the then national director of the ADL, told The Times of Israel at the time. “His comments about Jews and Israel have gotten progressively worse over time. It started with anti-Israel invective, and has now morphed into conspiratorial anti-Semitism.” Added Foxman: “How sad that a creative genius could become so perverted by his own narrow-minded bigotry.”

In the interview, Waters remarked, regarding the Palestinians, that the “parallels with what went on in the ’30s in Germany are so crushingly obvious.”

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