The letter – first posted on the Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian website – says musicians must tackle Israel over what Mr Waters calls its “crimes” of “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing” because of an alleged unwillingness of Western government and the UN Security Council to do so.
“I write to you now, my brothers and sisters in the family of Rock and Roll, to ask you to join with me, and thousands of other artists around the world, to declare a cultural boycott on Israel,” he wrote.
“Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”
The singer – whose compositions include The Wall, Money and Shine On You Crazy Diamond – has frequently criticised Israel in the past and has been active for several years in the "boycott, divestment and sanctions" (BDS) movement, which campaigns against normalised relations with the Jewish state.
He had been expected to issue a written boycott plea earlier this year but was suspected to have changed his mind after telling the Huff Post Live in an interview that he was “considering my position”.
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However, in preamble to his letter, he indicates that he was encouraged after hearing that Nigel Kennedy, the violinist, had accused Israel of apartheid in a recent Promenade concert at the Royal Albert Hall, to be broadcast on the BBC. The corporation has said it will not include Kennedy’s comments in its broadcast for “editorial” reasons.
Calling that decision “censorship”, Waters writes: “Time to stick my head above the parapet again, alongside my brother, Nigel Kennedy, where it belongs. And by the way, Nigel, great respect man.”
Mr Waters’ gesture met with a withering response from the Israeli foreign ministry. Paul Hirschson, a ministry spokesman, who said he was a Pink Floyd fan, said the musician had forgotten the moral in one of his most famous songs, Wish You Were Here.
“That song is addressed to a friend and chides him for thinking that he can tell right from wrong,” Mr Hirschson said. “He has forgotten his own words. The Roger Waters we knew from the 70s and 80s is no longer with us. He’s just an aging rock star now.”
Mr Waters was embroiled in controversy last month when the Belgian Jewish community accused him of an “an anti-Semitic display” after he appeared on stage in Belgium with a pig-shaped balloon emblazoned with a Star of David and symbols of dictatorial regimes.
His call for a boycott of Israel comes as an increasing number of musicians are refusing to perform there. Elvis Costello and Annie Lennox are among the British musicians reported to have said they will no longer play concerts in Israel. In his letter, Waters recounts how he last year successfully persuaded Stevie Wonder, the American singer, to cancel a fundraising concert for the Israeli Defence Forces.
This year, Stephen Hawking, the British physicist and author of A Brief History of Time, cancelled his engagement at a conference hosted by Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, after saying he had been persuaded by arguments presented from fellow academics about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians
Roger Waters should use his immense intellect to figure out how to make another hit. Off the top of your head , what song has Pink Floyd come out with since 1990? Roger Waters has a lot of time on his hands and needs to feel like he's doing something useful. Israel is not South Africa.