UPDATE JANUARY 7, 2018: New York Times: Kushner’s Financial Ties to Israel Deepen Even With Mideast Diplomatic Role
I've been wondering why the website Observer.com (formerly the print newspaper The New York Observer) recently published not one but two hit pieces criticizing Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, currently on a major U.S. tour which features the British rocker and activist's nightly brutal lambasting of the Trump administration.
Rolling Stone: See Roger Waters Emasculate Donald Trump With 'Pigs' at Tour Rehearsal
Could it have something to do with the fact that Jared Kushner, Trump's advisor and son-in-law, owned and published Observer?
Related: Roger Waters Accuses Radiohead of Supporting Israeli Government in New RT Interview
When Observer's Tim Sommer posted a link on Facebook to the newest anti-Waters article in Observer (which he wrote), I challenged him on Observer's link to Kushner and Trump, he responded that "Jared hasn't had anything to do with Observer for ages".
That's simply not true.
Jared allegedly stepped down from the editorial board in January 2017 - and I wouldn't call that "ages" ago. Furthermore, Observer is still owned by the Kushner family, via a family trust, and the "new" publisher is married to one of Jared's sisters.
Roger Waters, both with Pink Floyd and as a solo artist, has never backed off political and social commentary. In recent times, he's become one of the most prominent spokespeople for the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement which seeks to change Israeli policy by pressuring Western artists like Radiohead's Thom Yorke to boycott concerts in Israel, the same way artists and athletes boycotted South Africa to isolate it and pressure it to change. I was part of the anti-apartheid movement in the 80's. It worked.
According to Hailperin, "To me, an attack on Israel is an attack against the Jewish people.” That's obviously wrong. One can easily criticize the Israeli government while respecting the Israeli people and Jewish people in general, just as one can (and should) criticize the American and Russian governments, while still respecting the American and Russian people. When we protested South Africa, we were protesting against the South African power structure. We were not against the South African people. We wanted to stand in solidarity with them in their struggle for freedom.
Washington Post: Nassau County legislator seeks to bar Roger Waters concert from county-owned theater, because of Waters’s pro-Israel-boycott views
It's understandable that Jewish people would have strong sentimental feelings about Israel. (Both Hailperin and Kushner are Jewish.) The Jewish people have been victims of many of the most horrible crimes ever committed and we need to "never forget" those crimes. (The Kushner family was directly affected by the Holocaust. Charles' mother escaped a Nazi siege in Poland, but her mother, brother, sister, and other relatives lost their lives to Nazi terror. For more info see here...)(After reading Jared's grandmother's tragic story, I had to wonder what she would think of him working in the White House with the Neo-Nazi S.S. - S. Bannon and S. Gorka.) However, that does not mean that individual Jewish people are eternally immune from criticism, much less institutions like the Israeli government, the Israeli military, and the vicious Israeli settler movement. The Kushner family supports the status quo in Israel. Waters and his allies support radical change to bring about a two-state solution and full Palestinian rights.
The lead prosecutor in the case against Charles (for witness tampering, tax fraud, and illegal campaign contributions) was none other then current New Jersey Governor (then U.S. Attorney) Chris Christie. At the time, Christie said this about the case:
"It shows that no matter how rich and powerful you are in this state you will be prosecuted for crimes you commit. This sends a strong message that when you commit the vile and heinous acts he has committed you will be caught and punished".
I wait for the day Mr. Mueller makes a similar speech to Jared and his father-in-law.
In April 2016, Observer officially endorsed Trump for the New York Republican primary.
The paper stopped publishing a print edition in November 2016 (the month of the U.S. presidential election), as it seemed Jared would be busier in the immediate future, and became more of a digital enterprise.
In January 2017, with Jared set to enter The White House as a key advisor, it was announced that he would be stepping down from Observer and placing the assets in a "family trust".
This is a dodge, also used by Trump himself, very different from traditional "blind trusts" that other politicians have used.
In a blind trust, usually the assets of a politician are sold and new investments are managed until the person leaves office. Under the aegis of this "family trust", the asset (Observer) was not sold, and Kushner's family members are beneficiaries of the trust (although Kushner says he, his wife Ivanka, and their children are not currently beneficiaries) so it is in Jared's interest for Observer to succeed. Indeed, the new publisher, Joseph Meyer, is married to Jared's sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, the same sister who recently got in trouble boasting about her connection to Jared and The White House to potential Chinese investors in a Kushner project.
UPDATE: Tim has communicated to me that he had absolutely no discussion with Jared Kushner about this article or any other article and I take him at his word. I still disagree with what he said, and suggested he include a disclaimer (in the interest of full disclosure, stating that Observer is published by the Kushners) on all "political" articles. Of course, I think it would be best if he completely cuts the cord with Kushner and Observer altogether. As long as he is connected with Observer, any criticism of Trump/Kushner critics, and any lauding of Trump/Kushner allies, will be suspect.
When Pink Floyd's "The Wall" came out in 1979, I was more interested in The Clash, Patti Smith, and The Dead Boys, and didn't come back to listening to Pink Floyd until I met some Mexican hippies while living in Mexico City in the 90's who were WAY into Pink Floyd. They introduced me to early Pink Floyd (enthusiastic shout out here to Syd Barrett's early work with Pink Floyd and his subsequent solo stuff!) and Roger Waters' solo albums, which I had never heard before. "Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking" and especially the amazing "Amused To Death" are great, and I enjoyed seeing him perform Pink Floyd classics and some solo stuff at Madison Square Garden in 2000. I also saw him last year at the (sadly final) Bridge School Benefit with Neil Young in Northern California.
And who didn't love Billie Joe trashing Trump and leading the crowd in a chant of "NO TRUMP! NO KKK! NO FASCIST USA!"
We need our artists to speak out now more than ever.
I'm glad Roger Waters speaks out and hopes he continues to do so. He deserves our support, not our criticism. We should focus our criticism instead on Trump, Kushner, and others who make the world a worse place, not the artist who dream of a better dream.
First the dream, then the work, then the change...
Jared Kushner & The Observer's Cheap Shot At Roger Waters...
Pink Floyd's Roger Waters: Anti-Trump Interview With CNN's Michael Smerconish
Roger Waters, Neil Young, & Jim James Tribute To Bob Dylan "Forever Young", Mountain View, CA. 10/22/16