Idol Chatter

A British singer borrows an American president’s phrase when painting graffiti on Israeli property that is characterized by Palestinians as a land grab. I’m not sure what I am more struck by: the scope of history, politics, music, and culture that came together in that one act, or the fact that some graffiti on a faraway wall made headlines across the globe.

Reuters reports that Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters (“The Wall,” “The Dark Side of the Moon”) “scrawled ‘tear down the wall’ on the concrete panels of Israel’s West Bank barrier on Wednesday.” He was doing some touring before performing a concert that drew an estimated 50,000 Palestinians and Israelis. His red spray paint and marker pen–and the phrase he borrowed from President Reagan’s famous reference to the Berlin wall–attracted quite a bit of attention.

“‘It’s a horrific edifice, this thing,’ Waters told reporters as he stood beside a section of the barrier in Bethlehem. ‘I’ve seen pictures of it, I’ve heard a lot about it but without being here you can’t imagine how extraordinarily oppressive it is and how sad it is to see these people coming through these little holes… It’s craziness.'”

Israel says they’ve built the wall to protect against suicide bombers. Palestinians see it as a thinly veiled attempt to claim more land. Whatever your thoughts or mine, simply the fact that a rock icon made a graffiti comment about it has drawn more attention to the conflict than the latest exposé by “60 Minutes” or “Nightline.”

Waters’s concert, incidentally, was moved from Tel Aviv when some of his fans complained about him playing in Israel. Instead, he performed in the Arab-Israeli village Neve Shalom, which literally means “oasis of peace.” His graffiti and accompanying statements certainly didn’t decrease the number of cars braving the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway and Route 3 between the Latrun and Nahshon intersections to hear another rendition of really old songs by really old guys.

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