Roger Waters has urged fellow music legend Stevie Wonder not to accept Israel’s Wolf Prize, which is normally given to those who have made outstanding contributions to the arts and sciences. The American singer-songwriter was awarded the prize in February by the Wolf Foundation, a state-owned entity, and will be required to travel to the occupation state for the award ceremony.
Waters uploaded a video on Twitter and wrote, “@steviewonder, with respect, you turned down Haim Saban’s IDF fundraiser in 2012. Please turn down Israel’s @WolfPrize_in 2021.”
In the video, the Pink Floyd star pointed out that Wonder had cancelled a 2013 performance at a fundraising gala for the Friends of Israel Defence Forces (FIDF). The controversial annual event raises money for the Israeli occupation army and triggered a campaign in 2018 urging Hollywood stars and celebrities not to attend the VIP gala.
Denouncing the “apartheid state,” Waters explained that, “This is Israel. You will be whitewashing them beyond all belief.” He expects Wonder to boycott the award ceremony just as he boycotted the 2013 FIDF event.
If Wonder heeds Waters’ call he will join several other well-known figures who have cancelled appearances in high-profile events and ceremonies. Critics of the Zionist state argue that they are used to divert attention from Israel’s many human rights abuse.
Despite being a dual US-Israeli citizen, Hollywood star Natalie Portman declined to visit Israel in 2018 to receive the Genesis Prize. The actor snubbed the prestigious ceremony and a prize of $2 million given annually to Jews in recognition of excellence in their particular fields.
The same year, Israeli author Yuval Noah Harari refused to be honoured by the state in protest against its Nation-State Law. Defending Harari’s decision, his manager Karin Eliahu-Perry said at the time, “We prefer not to represent the government as long as it persists in this policy [the Nation-State Law].”
The law was passed in 2018 and declared that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country. Its clauses enshrine in law the creation of Jewish-only settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories “as a national value”. Critics of the legislation have argued that it cements Israel’s status as an apartheid state.
In a landmark position paper in January, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem cited the bill as one of the many reasons for concluding that Israel is an apartheid state that “promotes and perpetuates Jewish supremacy between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.”