Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters slams Scarlett Johansson over Israel

Roger Waters performs The Wall Live in Barcelona, 2011.

Roger Waters performs The Wall Live in Barcelona, 2011.


Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters has fiercely criticized Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson over her decision to endorse SodaStream, an Israeli company that operates a factory in an illegal colony in the occupied West Bank.

Waters writes that in his previous encounters with Johansson, the actress struck him as a “young woman of strength and integrity who believed in truth, human rights, and the law and love.”

Now, the rock legend says that Johansson’s decision to quit her role with the charity Oxfam in order to represent occupation profiteer SodaStream “is such an act of intellectual, political, and civil about face, that we, all those of us who care about the downtrodden, the oppressed, the occupied, the second class, will find it hard to rationalize.”

He has also written privately to Johansson and to musician Neil Young urging them to respect the Palestinian call for the cultural and economic boycott of Israel.

The Canadian-born Young faces growing calls to cancel a scheduled performance in Tel Aviv this summer.

Waters – who has been an outspoken supporter of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) – made the statements in a note he posted on his Facebook page.

Here’s Waters’ note in full:

In the past days I have written privately to Neil Young (once) and to Scarlett Johanson (a couple of times). Those letters will remain private.   

Sadly, I have received no reply from either. 

And so I write this note on my Facebook page somewhat in bewilderment.

Neil? I shall ponder all of this long and hard. We don’t really know each other, but, you were always one of my heroes, I am confused.

Scarlett? Ah, Scarlett. I met Scarlett a year or so ago, I think it was at a Cream reunion concert at MSG. She was then, as I recall, fiercely anti Neocon, passionately disgusted by Blackwater (Dick Cheney’s private army in Iraq), you could have been forgiven for thinking that here was a young woman of strength and integrity who believed in truth, human rights, and the law and love. I confess I was somewhat smitten. There’s no fool like an old fool. A few years down the line, Scarlett’s choice of SodaStream over Oxfam is such an act of intellectual, political, and civil about face, that we, all those of us who care about the downtrodden, the oppressed, the occupied, the second class, will find it hard to rationalize.

I would like to ask that younger Scarlett a question or two. Scarlett, just for one example, are you aware that the Israeli government has razed to the ground a Bedouin village in the Negev desert in Southern Israel 63 times, the last time being on the 26th of December 2013. This village is the home to Bedouin. The Bedouin are, of course, Israeli citizens with full rights of citizenship. Well, not quite full rights, because in “Democratic” Israel there are fifty laws that discriminate against non Jewish citizens.

I am not going to attempt to list, either those laws (they are on the statute book in the Knesset for all to research) or all the other grave human rights abuses of Israeli domestic and foreign policy. I would run out of space. But, to return to my friend Scarlett Johansson.

Scarlett, I have read your reposts and excuses, in them you claim that the Palestinian workers in the factory have equal pay, benefits and “Equal rights.” Really? Equal Rights? Do they?

Do they have the right to vote? 

Do they have access to the roads? 

Can they travel to their work place without waiting for hours to pass through the occupying forces control barriers? 

Do they have clean drinking water?

Do they have sanitation? 

Do they have citizenship? 

Do they have the right not to have the standard issue kicking in their door in the middle of the night and taking their children away? 

Do they have the right to appeal against arbitrary and indefinite imprisonment? 

Do they have the right to re-occupy the property and homes they owned before 1948? 

Do they have the right to an ordinary, decent human family life? 

Do they have the right to self determination? 

Do they have the right to continue to develop a cultural life that is ancient and profound?

If these questions put you in a quandary I can answer them for you. The answer is, NO, they do not. 

The workers in The SodaStream Factory do not have any of these rights.

So, what are the “equal rights” of which you speak?

Scarlett, you are undeniably cute, but if you think SodaStream is building bridges towards peace you are also undeniably not paying attention.





It's a shame Waters wasted so many words on Johansson rather than focusing on appealing to Neil Young. I've liked both those men's music since I was a teenager, and it's been great to see Waters become relevant again as a campaigner for a cause I support; I hope the extra enjoyment that gives me when I hear a Pink Floyd song on the radio won't be offset by disappointment when I hear one of Young's songs.


say it aint so neil. you playing tel aviv? oh, neil, this can't be true, you stooping to such levels. neil, surely you remember cortez the killer, the conquistadores? the pillage? the mayhem? the murder? you wrote the tune , neil. mebbe time to pull the lincvolt to the shoulder, put on the radio and find out just exactly what the israelis are doing to the first nations of Palestine. i'm sure you'd recognize the tune, neil, you wrote it. give honor to only those deserving, neil. i see no tel aviv in your future. #BDS, neil, boycott, divest and sanctions against israel the killer


Dear Neil,
You are a modern day profit, and a man who would have"impeached" Bush 43, you are a hero to the oppressed and speak against injustices all over.
Please boycott Israel, and do not play Tel Aviv. Who knows, you could be the start of the elusive solution to the vast injustice that has festered in Palestine at the hands of Israel for decades.


I fully agree with your sentiments, Mr. Waters. Extremely well said, in sorrow, without vindictiveness. If any issue of our time is morally unambiguous I believe it is the perfidy of the treatment of the Palestinians by the Israelis these past decades. How any thinking informed person, for whatever amount of money, could help perpetuate the growing desperate apartheid of the Israelis against the Palestinians, is beyond me. Ignorance is no excuse and certainly greed isn't. I try to keep the personal views of artists I admire separate from my appreciation of their art, but it's very hard not to depreciate Scarlett Johansson's estimable art right now and it will be even harder to do so if Neil Young follows through with his support of Israel in Tel Aviv this summer. Both of their actions seem so inconsistent with what I've known of their views in the past. Shame on them both for even considering doing what they are doing. At least Young has time to reverse course. Johansson has clearly chosen sides and history will condemn her. Viva BDS!


How is playing in Tel Aviv supporting occupation?


Neil Young playing Tel Aviv indirectly supports and tends to give bogus legitimacy to Israel's illegal, immoral, and ultimately self-defeating campaign to extinguish the Palestinian identity. Remember South Africa?


dear lady. as a christian from Ramallah Palestine and now live in Texas for the last 47 years.was born in Ramallah and lived there till I went to college in the usa. Do You Know I am only allowed to visit my home town and not live for only 3 months. is that fair to us who never done any thing wrong toward Israel. the worst democracy toward us Palestinian. and you support them its sad that you are misinformed or money comes first and not ethics.


It's a bit surprising to me to see Roger say to Neil that they don't really know each other. I think he has a very difficult time making friends and always has. David Gilmour's best friends with Crosby and Nash. Roger's politics are making him even more insufferable than he has always been. And that was hard to do.


I wish everyone was as "insufferable" as Mr. Waters. The world would be a much better place....


You are what you do and if we apply that to ScarJo, she is a 20 something woman who makes a living pretending and exploiting her physical beauty, which she has carelessly let out to the general public by not securing her naked pics on her phone, and who has had a recent relationship with another great pretender, Sean Penn, who is twice her age. What a CV. Why do we care what such people think or endorse? People like her will endorse anything for the right price....and what does that make them? Hollyweird is full of them.


Hey, it's like Sting saving the Amazon, only it's on the internet so it's real.

C'mon, rock stars work for the man. So does most alternative press.

We will be resisting in twos and threes, or we will be playing the 'revolution' game.


I'm disappointed you've posted this yourself Ali. I believe Scarlet's decision deserves some public push back, because at it's heart it is about the way a company has profited on the status quo in Palestine. It is capitalism in one of its darkest forms. What I really dislike about Roger Waters' letter is that it oozes a tut-tut-silly-little-girl attitude. I've heard that voice often enough to recognize it. She, and other women, have the right to express their opinion and be challenged based on that opinion without their appearance, body or gender being brought up. I say this as a Palestinian woman, who has experienced marginalization on many levels over my life time. Palestine could do with more public allies, to speak to the myth of Israel's moral superiority but this letter leaves a poor taste in my mouth.


Well, Bob Dylan is a Zionist settlement supporter too. Lo, how the mighty have fallen.

It would now be hypocritical for Neil Young to sing "Southern Man" or "Ohio" or a whole list of songs by which, long ago, we could identify Neil Young.

Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Graham Nash: you are all still alive and kicking. Can't you collectively contact Neil and dissuade him from this path of shame? Thank you Roger Waters (btw I hope your son has gotten himself straightened out and won't hang from banners on the Trafalgar Memorial any more...)

Need a harp player?


ScarJo's appearance and gender were made fair game by she, herself. She has no credentials other than her being a public figure via being an actress, which is all about gender and appearance. She sold that public persona to the highest bidder and now is fair game in the evaluation of the endorsement she's made of Sodastream.


Johansson's SodaStream ads in particular emphasize one point: I am an attractive female body. Period. She herself has made the conscious choice to reduce her entire humanity to that one feature.