Upon visiting Meretz khaver Dan Leon (a former editor of New Outlook and the Palestine-Israel Journal and an old Mapam khaver), immediately after the World Zionist Congress adjourned, I was warned by his wife not to take a bus to Haifa that evening as I had planned — due to chaos on the roads caused by the Pink Floyd concert that Zel Lurie discusses here, from his July 4 submission to the Jewish Journal of South Florida. To my relief, the traffic to Haifa was fine. – R. Seliger
Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, the Oasis of Peace, is a unique egalitarian village of about 200 Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. It was built on land bought from the Latrun Monastery, which is midway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
This was the location chosen by Roger Waters, founder of the famous Pink Floyd rock band for his first concert in Israel. On June 22, when Olmert and Abu Mazen were hugging in Jordan, 20,000 cars and trucks carrying 54,000 ticket holders from all over Israel, including many Arabs from the Galilee, tied up Israeli roads in a massive traffic jam. Although Waters held up the flames that opened the concert for 45 minutes some of them never arrived.
For readers who are over 75 – I’m way over – Pink Floyd is a British band which has sold over 200 million albums world-wide and about 74 million in the United States. One of their biggest hits was “The Wall” issued in 1979. Concert-goers sang along “We don’t need no thought-control…all in all you’re just another brick in the wall.”
It was only right therefore that Roger Waters, who founded Pink Floyd, should visit The Wall that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem and write on it: “We don’t need no thought control.”
Waters hosted a concert in Berlin celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall…. Jeff Halper, founder of the Israel Committee Against Home Demolitions, helped organize Waters’ visit to this wall.
There were 3,600 people employed on the NSWAS concert site including 970 cops and 600 security personnel. Together with a couple of thousand listening outside the fence, NSWAS Mayor Rayek Rizek estimates that more than 60,000 enjoyed the concert.
54,000 tickets were printed. All of the ticket offices sold out. “On the day of the concert, my phone kept ringing. People were begging me for tickets. I could have sold another thousand tickets.” Mayor Rizek said.
Among the 60,000 was Deanna Armbruster, executive director of the American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salem, who lives in Los Angeles. She spent 42 hours in Israel and 43 hours traveling to and fro. “Yet, I wouldn’t have missed it,” she e-mailed to me…. “It was surely one of the biggest days in the community’s history,” she wrote….
Howard Shippen of the NSWAS public relations office has collected over 40 reports in English and Hebrew. Ynet was lyrical. In a piece titled “Impressive, Moving and Powerful” Ynet said that the concert was “one of the most impressive and moving concerts ever seen in Israel.”
The Hebrew press captured both the enthusiasm and the huge traffic jams. One report was titled “The Performance that Stopped the Nation.”
The TV news spent more time describing the village and its Jewish and Arab inhabitants than the concert…. Millions of Israelis had no idea where Neve Shalom was and how to get there. Now they know.