Bob Dylan, Rock Greats Reject BDS Despite Pressure

The sharp divide over the anti-Israel Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement recently played out onstage at a California music festival.
Bob Dylan, regarded as the voice of a generation for his influential songs from the 1960s onward, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in a surprise decision that gave a singer-songwriter one of the world's most prestigious cultural awards. But the designation has many people returning to the complex question about his religious beliefs. Leonard Cohen / NME

The sharp divide over the anti-Israel Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement recently played out onstage at a California music festival.

Outspoken BDS supporter, English rocker Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, shared the stage at Desert Trip, a three-day classic rock mega-concert in Indio, California, with Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and others.

According to the group, Creative Community for Peace, Waters is "one of the most vocal supporters" of BDS and "by far the most celebrated musician to embrace it," it said in a statement. Creative Community for Peace is an entertainment-industry organization that promotes the arts to counter the boycott of Israel.

Waters "expends a great deal of energy attempting to convince artists to embrace the cultural boycott of Israel and refrain from performing there," the group said. "Any artist who schedules a performance in Israel is subjected to a constant flow of false and inflammatory pressure by supporters of the cultural boycott who attempt to manipulate them into canceling their show."

The group also claims that Waters "compares Israel to Nazis and Nazi collaborators, an ugly and libelous attack, describes Israel as a 'systematic racist apartheid regime,' and talks about classic anti-Semitic tropes such as the 'Jewish Lobby.'"

The group applauds rock legends, like Dylan, the first American songwriter to win the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature last week, for standing up to BDS pressure. Dylan, who is Jewish, wrote his "Neighborhood Bully" song in 1983 about Israel's struggle to survive. He performed at a 2011 Tel Aviv concert despite calls to cancel his show.

Following Dylan's example, Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones in 2014 performed in Israel to 50,000 fans after standing up to boycott pressure, including a personal appeal from Waters, the group said.

Tags : Boycott Divestment Sanctions, Bob Dylan, US singer Bob Dylan, rock music