When it comes to aiding Israeli Apartheid, American Express is just another brick in The Wall, according to a new report.
Roger Waters, lead singer behind Pink Floyd, lost a multimillion dollar American Express sponsorship for his 2017 US+Them tour after expressing solidarity this month with Palestinian students trying to end Israel’s apartheid system of military occupation using the same protest tactic that helped dismantle South African Apartheid (and, earlier, America’s Jim Crow): Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS.
“I’m going to send out all of my most heartfelt love and support to all those young people on the campuses of the universities of California who are standing up for their brothers and sisters in Palestine and supporting the BDS movement,” Rogers said, according to CBS News, “in the hope that we may encourage the government of Israel to end the occupation.”
American Express decided it would be a good idea to leak the cancellation of the contract to the New York Post, where Page Six’s Emily Smith has the exclusive story.
“Roger is putting on a huge show. The company was asked to sponsor his tour for $4 million, but pulled out because it did not want to be part of his anti-Israel rhetoric,” an American Express spokesman told the paper. “We never committed to sponsoring Roger Waters’ upcoming tour. When we were approached with the options, we passed on making a bid.”
American Express had helped sponsor Waters’ Oldchella Desert Trip festival (Coachella for the senior set featuring Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, and the Rolling Stones) where he made the comments expressing support for human rights. But without anybody even asking them, American Express decided it had to go out of its way to bash Waters for “putting on a huge show.”
Noteworthy about American Express’s decision is that it comes even as Waters included more mainstream political views, like featuring in the performance a line of children wearing shirts that said: “Arriba el Muro,” (Tear down the wall). He also showed Trump in a Klan outfit, and the show featured a floating pig balloon that calls the Republican candidate an “Ignorant, lying, racist, sexist pig,” CBS reported.
Waters more mainstream kinds of leftist protest didn’t make up for his audacious display of solidarity with his fellow human beings living and dying under a ceaseless occupation. American Express has also sponsored Beyonce’s performances, where she has used art to make reference to police oppression of communities of colour. But AmEx lost its nerve when Waters brought up Palestinian rights.
According to the New York Post, Waters has known that there are consequences for standing up against the occupation, and that keeps others silent.
“I have been accused of being a Nazi and an anti-Semite for the past 10 years. My industry has been particularly recalcitrant in even raising a voice [against Israel] . . . I’ve talked to a lot of them, and they are scared s – – less. If they say something in public, they will no longer have a career. They will be destroyed,” he said, according to the Post.
But Waters is already famous, and 75, so the stakes aren’t the same as for young artists.
But don’t worry, the show will go on. A less squeamish corporate sponsor came to the rescue. According to the Post, Citi, (formerly Citibank) an international commercial and investment bank, grabbed the opportunity to sponsor one of the biggest and best acts of the 20th century. Shine on you crazy diamond, Citi.
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