Three years after his unforgettable concert in Israel, former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters returned to the region this week on a mission of peace and reconciliation.
The legendary rocker arrived in Israel on Monday and travelled to the Palestinian city of Jenin, where he was to oversee the initial works on the Cinema Jenin project, of which he is one of the sponsors.
The project, funded by the German government and director Marcus Water, seeks to restore the city's old – and only - cinema house, which was closed during the first intifada in 1987. Along with the reopening of the venue – scheduled for May 2010, a film school will also be opened there.
Khamid Pakhri, who heads the project, said that the plan is "to turn this complex into a culture center where, alongside movies we'll also have theater plays, poetry readings and literary and musical events.
"We are trying to get people from Israel and abroad involved in this project in order to strengthen the ties between us," he added.
'People being slaughtered on both sides'
After visiting Jenin, Rogers traveled to Jerusalem to meet with students at the Sam Spiegel Film and Cinema School. He spoke of his impressions from the West Bank city, which he found much livelier and modern than he had imagined.
Waters in Jerusalem (Photo: Merav Yudilovitch)
Waters said that he also visited the Jenin refugee camp, which was invaded by IDF forces in 2002 during Operation Defensive Shield. "Some of the people there are still extremely traumatized," he said. "Parts of the camp have been rebuilt, but there are still a lot of humanitarian problems, which can also be seen in the Gaza Strip and the occupied territories."
The rocker also commented on the recent Israeli offensive in Gaza, which he defined as "not an eye for an eye, but a hundred eyes for an eye." He spoke strongly against the occupation, the checkpoints and the restrictions on free movement of Palestinians.
"I think that without equal rights for everyone – this democracy is meaningless. Innocent people are being slaughtered on both sides, and for what? The desert sand?"
Waters warned that the conflict had a detrimental effect on Israel's standing in the world, and that many no longer believe that the Jewish people deserve a state of their own.
However, he expressed hope that the Israeli minority that is striving for peace will grow stronger and that its voice will be heard.