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Published: 2013/08/01

Roger Waters Responds to Accusations of Anti-Semitism

Roger Waters has taken a defensive stance following a statement by Rabbi Abraham Cooper, who called the Pink Floyd co-founder an “open hater of Jews.”
 
The associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group, Cooper saw a video from Waters’ July 18 show in Belgium featuring a giant inflatable pig marked with a Star of David and released a statement denouncing the bassist for the offensive imagery.

Waters, who has never made his opposition to Israel’s occupation of Palestine a secret, specifically rejected several accusations of anti-semitism and justified the performance in a statement that he posted on his Facebook page, which can be read below:

There has been some comment on the Internet about the Wall Show in Belgium to which I feel I should respond.

One Alon Onfus Asif, an Israeli living in Belgium, came to The Wall show in Belgium last week and being an observant sort of chap Alon noticed a Star of David on the Pig that is destroyed by the audience at the end of the show. Then Alon dutifully videoed our Pig on his phone, posted this video, and alerted Israeli Daily, Yediot Ahronot. This story was duly picked up by the ever watchful Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the entirely predictable resulting rant is attached here:

http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/07/24/massive-pig-balloon-at- roger-waters-concert-features-star-of-david-video/.

Often I can ignore these attacks but Rabbi Cooper’s accusations, are so wild and bigoted they demand a response.

Dear Rabbi Cooper,

I hold your outburst to be inflammatory and un-helpful and would suggest it can only impede progress towards peace and understanding between people. It is also extremely insulting to me personally in that you accuse me of being ‘Anti Semitic’, ‘A Jew Hater’ and ‘Nazi Sympathizer.’

I have three specific points to make:

1). Your use of the adjective “ANTI-SEMITIC”.

First I direct you to an announcement by ‘The Anti Defamation League’ an American organization, who’s declared aim is to defend Jewish people and Judaism from attack. They recently said.

“While we wish that Mr. Waters would have avoided using the Star of David, we believe there is no anti-Semitic intent here.”

I should point out that in the show, I also use the Crucifix, the Crescent and Star, the Hammer and Sickle, the Shell Oil Logo and The McDonald’s Sign, a Dollar Sign and a Mercedes sign.

2). JEW-HATING? I have many very close Jewish friends, one of whom, interestingly enough, is the nephew of the late Simon Wiesenthal. I am proud of that association; Simon Wiesenthal was a great man. Also I have two grandsons who, I love more than life itself, their Mother, my daughter in law, is Jewish and so, in consequence, I’m told, are they.

3). NAZI? Not only did my father, 2nd Lieutenant Eric Fletcher Waters, die in Italy on February 18th 1944 fighting the Nazis, but I was brought up in post war England where I received the most thorough education on the subject of Nazism and where I was spared no horrific detail of the heinous crimes committed in the name of that most foul ideology. I remember my mother’s friends Claudette and Maria, I remember their tattoos, they where survivors, two of the lucky ones.

My Mother spent the whole of the rest of her life, involved politically to make sure the future for her children and grandchildren, in fact for everyone’s children and grandchildren, black, white, Gentile, Jew, Latino, Asian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, et al, had no Sword of Damocles in the form of the despised Nazi Creed hanging over their heads.

I for my part, as best I can, have continued along my parent’s path. At the age of nearly 70, in the spirit of my Father and Mother and all they did, I have stood my ground, as best I can, in defense of Mistress Liberty.

The Wall Show, so lamely attacked by you, is many things. It is thoughtful, life affirming, ecumenical, humane, loving, anti war, anti colonial, pro universal access to the law, pro liberty, pro collaboration, pro dialogue, pro peace, anti authoritarian, anti fascist, anti apartheid, anti dogma, international in spirit, musical and satirical.

It is not.

ANTI-SEMITIC or PRO NAZI

I have often come under attack by the pro Israel lobby because of my support for BDS, (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) which I won’t go into here, anyone interested can access a speech I made at The United Nations on the 29th November last year.

However I will say this, in a functioning theocracy it is almost inevitable that the symbol of the religion becomes confused with the symbol of the state, in this case the State of Israel, a state that operates Apartheid both within its own borders and also in the territories it has occupied and colonized since 1967.

Like it or not, the Star of David represents Israel and its policies and is legitimately subject to any and all forms of non violent protest. To peacefully protest against Israel’s racist domestic and foreign policies is NOT ANTI-SEMITIC. Your contention that because I criticize the Policies of the Israeli government I should be lumped in with the Muslim Brotherhood is risible, and again a personal affront. I have spent my whole adult life advocating separation of church and state.

At every Wall Show I invite 20 vets from whatever country we are in backstage at half time to meet, exchange handshakes and good wishes and mementos. At one show, a year or so ago, an older vet, Vietnam era, at a guess, blocked my exit, he put out his hand which I took, he did not let go, he looked me in the eyes and he said “ Your Father would be proud of you.”

Tears burn my eyes.

The Wall is reaching out to you and all the other Rabbi Cooper’s out there.

Come to the show!

Love

Roger

P.S.

For the sake of some perspective. The inflatable pig that so offended young Alon has appeared at every Wall Show since September 2010, some 193 shows, yours is the first complaint. Also the pig in question represents evil, and more specifically the evil of errant government. We make a gift of this symbol of repression to the audience at the end of every show and the people always do the right thing. They destroy it.

Comments

There are 40 comments associated with this post

Todd E August 2, 2013, 09:19:38

Good letter from Roger. The charges levelled against him were ridiculous. FWIW, I always found The Wall a bore. When I want some Floyd I go to the early stuff.

Denisss August 1, 2013, 23:02:35

Anti répréhension, Anti guerre, Juste la paix s’tie
Merci M.Waters

Davina August 2, 2013, 01:39:37

moi j en pense : He indeed used the other symbols during the show that is why we all looked for them on the pig and couldn’t find them. Also note that Waters was doing his Nazi act when the pig was launched….this doesn’t reminds us of the Middle East issue. Furthermore he talks about Alon the observant Jew at his show, I’m not observant, leftist and i think he knows his message was dubious being himself an educated and sensible man

KB August 2, 2013, 08:39:52

I saw the Wall twice and there were dozens of different symbols used throughout the show. Stop taking yourselves so seriously, enjoy it or don’t enjoy it as a performance from what I consider an extremely talented and thoughtful fellow and get on with your lives. I’m with the guy who said, I can’t think of anything that offends me. Calm down.

Um.... I'm not so sure about RW and all of that August 2, 2013, 09:17:45

I haven’t seen The Wall show ever. Are all of those symbols on the giant inflatable pig that gets destroyed at the end? I’ll need to do some research to figure that out. I’m guessing that the pig represents the greed of the combined bad forces in the world and not specifically a negative reference to the Judaic religion. BUT, with Roger Waters’ global and life experience performing all of these decades he should have edited out using the large pig stage prop and used something else more neutral and even cartoonish but still satirical to represent governments and corporations that need a balance of accountability to prevent their potential (and probable that at times comes with great power) overreach. Legitimately criticizing a government’s policies is not that same as symbolically destroying a Star of David in a large public performance. The Star of David also represents an ancient historic people. A people who brutally suffered, (and to the outraged and unexpected shock of historians at the time), at the hands of a modern, mid-twentieth century, western civilization European nation. I am not Jewish. I am a long-time rocker guitarist myself. Some of my boyhood Jewish friends grew up on chicken farms in the eastern United States. We are all grown adults now but I’ll always remember seeing the concentration camp tattoos on their parents’ forearms. Their parents who survived and made it to the U.S. after WWII. If and when I feel moved to criticize Israel’s policies towards the Palestinian people I will still do that. I just don’t think that Roger Waters is acting mature and wise with the way he is criticizing Israel during his show. Maybe he should publish his more specific criticisms and also do so with an educated and informed activist group that addresses the specific Israeli-Palestinian regional issues. That can help so that people don’t get confused about his theatrical political “theater”.

Norma stitz August 1, 2013, 19:48:53

I can’t think of anything that offends me.

Mark Zinskie August 1, 2013, 15:39:33

Lets not forget that The Wall is a piece of art. Open to interpretation. It is obvious that WW2 affected Roger very much. Rogers imagery of WW2 is intense. If you can’t take his interpretation of the human condition, walk away from it. It is a free world…..The Wall is Art….take it or leave it. There is more sin in a video game in the 2013!

JRock August 1, 2013, 15:50:24

The most offensive thing about The Wall show is the fact that I paid about $200 for a ticket at Madison Square Garden a couple of years ago and because I was on the side of the arena, I basically could not see anything except for Waters every now and then coming out on the stage. Unless you are in the center of the arena, you simply cannot see the full effect of the “wall” being built. To this day, I feel conned. Waters is laughing all the way to the bank.

mutter August 1, 2013, 16:36:02

You go Roger!

Ed Shendell August 1, 2013, 14:24:03

Mr. Waters is delusional when “yours is the first complaint” about the pig. It’s difficult to find a place to complain where Mr. Waters may actually see it. I am a fairly secular Jewish person and a Pink Floyd fan and I was offended by several parts of the Wall when I saw the show in person. In the second scene of planes dropping bombs, the only religous symbol used is the Star of David as compared to the first scene where several religous symbols are used. The very putting of a Star of David on a pig is offensive. It doubly offensive when it is the only religous symbol on the pig and there is also a dollar sign symbol. Mr. Waters can talk about his Jewish friends, his Jewish grandchildren and his good intentions, but he has to realize and accept responsibility for how incredibly offensive and antisemitic his use of the pig, the Star of David and other symbols are.

jackstrawdc August 1, 2013, 14:27:26

I’m googling the heck out of this, and it does appear in fact that the pig has dollar signs and other symbols as well. That wasn’t clear from Water’s post. Personally, I think he’s covered, but symbols have meanings, and groups that have long suffered persecution at the hands of the majority often are a little more sensitive than rest of us. Hopefully his letter has put the issue to rest.

Jake August 1, 2013, 14:47:24

As a non-practicing Jew, I’ve seen The Wall 3 times and can totally understand the uproar why some people would be offended by the display of Star of David. I will say I was shocked when I first saw it, however the crucifix was on displayed as well. Therefore, Roger was not singling out the Jews, but all religions! With this being said, we can never forget the history of the world displayed prejudice across the spectrum of all races. Some performers chose to displayed their hatred, others displayed harmony among us (U2 come to mind). No matter what, all people will have different interpretations of how they view other people’s opinions. It’s called Dialogue! We can express ourselves in calm, angry, happy, sad, and bewilder manners, yet it all boiled down to COMMUNICATIONS! Most of the time, people will take a fraction of a statement and make it like it’s the only story. It’s unfortunate that we cannot wait to hear both sides of the story before expressing a thoughtful opinion…

LD August 1, 2013, 12:45:03

what he fails to acknowledge is that a pig is OFTEN used in various anti-semitic literature. so having a GIANT pig with a star of david on it is immediately offensive to many Jews. his inability to acknowledge this brings his other contentions into question. and the fact the audience destroys the pig is a further afront to those of Jewish heritage. For a very long time I have had a ‘f*ck him’ attitude towards this moron. He has simply confirmed that my avoidance has been warranted. I wish I hadn’t come upon this article or felt the need to comment…..but Fuck Roger Waters AND his crappy show.

Bacon Mayne August 1, 2013, 13:02:48

^^ lulz at this whiny jew

Owen Goldin August 1, 2013, 13:33:06

The imagery discussed here http://www.adl.org/press-center/press-releases/anti-semitism-international/adl-says-bomb-imagery-in.html does cross the line, in my view. I think that the test to whether ethnic imagery is hateful has to rest with the marginalized group. You don’t ask a white whether a blackface performance hearkens back to the good old days of traveling shows on the prairie or is racist and hateful — you ask a black.

jackstrawdc August 1, 2013, 13:09:26

Pigs aren’t exactly part of Muslim heritage either, so it’s weird that the goal is to protest Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip. That said, the fact that he doesn’t have a U.S. flag on that pig tells me that he’s especially singling out Israel. Most worldwide artists typically direct their ire at us first.

RockOnRoger August 1, 2013, 13:10:31

I love pigs. I like eating them. All of them. And Mr. Waters is anything but a moron. Perhaps a big ol’ sheep, with a blindfold, would be more appropriate for his point. The Wall lives on.

G Man August 1, 2013, 13:11:30

TO LD, Get a life. I had heard that their were paid Israeli apologists whose job it is to scour the web in search of all things which condemn Israel’s apartheid and then jump on them as being anti-semitic, but did not think I would come across such scum here on Jambands.com Apparently I was wrong, you fawkers really are everywhere. And really, Pink Floyd and its offshoots have been using the Pig the 70s, I really don’t think it was chosen to pick on poor Israel. Rock on Roger Waters, thank you for standing for peace for all of these years, don’t let the bastards get you down.

Umm. August 1, 2013, 13:19:10

@jackstrawdc If you read the statement, Waters makes it very clear that he uses plenty of symbols on the pig, including “the Crucifix, the Crescent and Star, the Hammer and Sickle, the Shell Oil Logo and The McDonald’s Sign, a Dollar Sign and a Mercedes sign” So yeah, he does understand that there are other problems with the world besides what’s happening Israel. That being said, there is NOTHING anti-Semitic about criticizing Israel’s policies. Plenty of Jews, incuding myself, understand that the occupation is a crime and we’re also capabale of understanding that there other crimes happening in the world as well. Waters may have singled out Israel a that and a few other shows but he has shined a light on plenty of other issues in the past as well

ReverendT August 1, 2013, 13:33:12

As a Christian, I’m pretty used to people bashing Christian symbols in the name of art. As often as not, the artists in question are either Jewish or atheists with Jewish backgrounds. I am to interpret these people as hating Christians? I hope not. They’re just making a point, or being outrageous. The same goes here. Waters is making a point. And it’s certainly not only directed at Jews, but at all symbols of ideas or entities that he finds oppressive. Kudos, Mr. Waters.

Stevie Tee August 1, 2013, 13:39:51

LD, have you seen the cover of the album “animals.” The pig has nothing to do with your religion in this context. get over it.

Diaspora August 1, 2013, 13:54:10

Roger Waters is a pathetic human being who was lucky enough to make millions of dollars off the E and A chords. Who gives a crap about what he has to say about politics or religion.

queefchoad August 1, 2013, 13:54:25

Myself a Jew – one who shares many of Roger’s views with respect to the unseemly parallels between Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people and the South African apartheid government – I am always astounded at how sensitive Jewish people are to antisemitism. While older Jews should be forgiven their paranoia on account of their proximity to the Holocaust, it perplexes me how young Jews today still worry about antisemitism. The general message of Roger’s show is that tyrannical governments, in all their forms, should be cut down to size; Jews, even those with fairly liberal politics, are seemingly too frightened of antisemites (who, in point of fact, are certainly not winning in the grand scheme of things) to recognize that the Israeli Government should also be held to account for its violent, vituperative and (at times) borderline-criminal treatment of its neighbors. Of course, the neighbors must also be held to account…

brooks August 1, 2013, 13:56:50

I agree with LD.the pig is iconic in antisemetic culture.Jews haven’te pigs.aren’t allowed to eat them.roger needs to leave his personal distaste for certain races out or his music which I lOve.b ut. Let’s not forget he openly hate Africans as well.he sang “its time for britiania.to. rule again.and. let’s send our colored cousins home again. And he uses the word nigger

Bleaux leaux August 1, 2013, 13:59:06

I haven’t seen this show. Waters says he uses the cresent and the star in it. It’s not clear from his statement where in the show he uses it- is it on the pig as well? Just curious as to whether anyone here has actually seen the current show.

Mykal Garneau August 1, 2013, 14:14:49

For the love of all that’s good and holy…...THE MAN WAS WRITING AND PERFORMING MUSIC! Not slamming Judaism!!! I challenge you to point out one country that hasn’t ever engaged in territorial disputes and yes, even taken and lost lives over differences of opinion . It’s all good….... Pink Floyd had it’s day (and made some mighty music! So did Alexander’s R%agtime Band….. and so does everyone who has ever sounded the Shofar…..... There IS no equating religion and music unless we talk religious/holy/sacred music and though I personally admire and even emulate lots of P.F.‘s tunes….... I don’t Blame MrWaters for being peeved at whoever made this silly comparaison….... FLOYD ROCKS

Stiener August 1, 2013, 14:17:49

LC criticizing Roger for his opinions of the Israel government is no different then the people at Fox categorizing Americans that disagreed with “W” after 9/11 as lousy Americans. Roger is an equal opportunity pro peace, anti hate and war human being. And as pig eating Jew, as long as it’s cooked slow and low, long live the pig!!!

Panda Marxx August 2, 2013, 13:23:54

Roger, I feel your pain. I know what it is like to live in a world of people who are quick to cry foul. They never take the time to stand back and look at the whole picture. They just have trouble dealing with their own inadequacies and feel obligated to find shortcomings in others whether true or not. Sad.

Trish August 2, 2013, 17:55:04

What an arrogant, sneering tone in this non-apology from a man I have, I’m sorry to say now, always been a huge fan of. Dude, you offended a lot of people with a black, satanic pig with a huge Star of David prominently displayed on its cheek! I didn’t see any other flags or religious symbols on that pig… So that leaves Israel bearing the sole responsibility of the symbol of evil which the crowd goes on to destroy? What is this Lord of the Nazi Flies, the Rock Musical? If he doesn’t recognize that an apology is in order, then I find it even more disturbing.

Nick August 3, 2013, 11:03:25

Wow, Jews taking offense, that’s new. ... At the point of sounding “anti-semitic”: if you don’t kiss their asses you’re anti-semitic… Just ignore them; they’re just a bunch of attention seeking morons!

Billy gramz August 3, 2013, 16:29:47

Anytime you choose to align yourself with any organization that’s represented through symbolism you’ll see an attack on the symbol as an attack on yourself, and that’s how they get your conscience. Symbols do not reflect you the individual, unless you have decided to sell out your individual beliefs for groupthink. In that case you will always feel attacked. From Christians to Muslims to Jews to any political party or private orginization it’s the same power game. The ones at the top use their organizations sheep as pawns in their blood games. Why let yourself be that sheep? Don’t groupthink. Be strong and stand alone with the creation. People have fought, killed and died for most of the symbols mentioned here. Why? Indoctrination is why. So what’s more dangerous; the individual who misused the organizational symbol, an individual who’s been indoctrinated to fight, kill or die over a misused organizational symbol, or the person who did the indoctrazation? Think real hard…

Joshua August 4, 2013, 11:15:09

Music is art. Art is life. Life is too prescious for none-sense. Roger has Jewish family. His shows have always been a message. We are free to express and digest art, music and life. Do not look into it. There are no conspiracies of Jewish people looking up every single thought – that’s for the us govt to do as we have learned. Ironic, isn’t it? Keep on truckin’ and pluckin’

Arnest Dijkstra August 6, 2013, 03:11:13

I was thirtheen when I saw PF The Wall in Dortmund Westfalenhalle. Now I am 47 end live watched AND listen many times Pink Floyd, RW, DG over and over again. In september I will see Roger Waters again, also my kids from 11 and thirtheen will seen him as well in the Amsterdam Arena. It is still just great music. I compare Pink Floyd and Roger Waters as the composers Mozart, Bach and Beethoven from this time.
It is easy to crtitsize Roger Waters anomimous through the internet but not everyone understands his work. Narrow minded are they as far as I concern. Keep on rocking, Roger! I love your work!

timmy August 8, 2013, 22:48:40

The Wall is many things to many people. I had the pleasure of witnessing this spectacle two years ago. I’m still buzzing from it. I remember the pig, but not the star of david on it. The intention was to rip all forms of organized religion, along with capitalism, communism and any other form of “ism”. All that divides us, and makes us build our own external and internal walls. For one religious group to single themselves out as exclusively being ripped is ridiculous. Roger Waters is the least racist, bigoted person, as is reflected in his music, his art and his human rights efforts. He is against colonialism in all forms including Israeli occupation of Palestine. It is not anti-Semitic to be against a government policy. Even the word “semite” refers to the semitic people which include Muslim and Christian Palestinians. Ironic, no?

conslayer August 10, 2013, 17:46:38

re:>>Bacon Mayne “^^ lulz at this whiny jew” Isn’t that nice. A Jew hating dimwit advertising to the entire world that he is a Jew hating dimwit. Well done, Bacon. You are a tool

conslayer August 10, 2013, 17:49:42

re:>>Nick “Wow, Jews taking offense, that’s new. ... At the point of sounding “anti-semitic”: if you don’t kiss their asses you’re anti-semitic… Just ignore them; they’re just a bunch of attention seeking morons” Well done, bigot. Sounding anti-Semitic? How else could anyone possibly interpret your comments other than to conclude that you are, in fact, a bigoted Jew hating tool? “ just a bunch of attention seeking morons”??? Get some help, son. Angry, dumb and bigoted is no way to go through life.

Michael August 12, 2013, 12:09:44

I must admit that I was predisposed against Waters. I found his note to be convincing and believe that he is not an anti-Semite. But his stance on Israel is just stupid. There is nothing similar between Israel and South Africa. The latter separated the races on grounds that one was inferior to the other; Israel’s wall and separation stems from the fact that Palestinians frequently try to kill Israelis and shoot guns at them. Israel’s wall is not apartheid; it’s born of self-defense. Israel’s actions — freeing prisoners as a grounds for peace talks — demonstrate that Israel wants peace and fewer barriers. The Palestinians consistently demonstrate that they don’t want that. In the end, they want the destruction of Israel and to kill Jews. That Waters doesn’t see that makes him a dumbass, not an anti-Semite. PS: His “some of my best friends are Jewish” routine is lame. And has been uttered by many a Jew Hater over the centuries.

hillariuos August 11, 2013, 16:13:20

Hillarious, fricking Israelis! Not enuff for them to essentially enslave a native people in the name of their faith and freedom..Fucking children

HeebieJeebie August 12, 2013, 07:14:54

This is America people. The first thing you do when you want to control things is immediately start screaming about being a victim. The sea immediately parts, pardon the pun.

Bob August 14, 2013, 19:28:20

Ah, the eternal song of the bigot “some of my best friends are…” Sorry Roger, the only religious symbol on the pig was a Jewish star, not the flag of Israel, just the Jewish star. I don’t care who your son married, we aren’t talking about whether he is an anti-Semite. We are talking about whether you are. If you were simply ignorant of the symbolism of putting a Jewish star on a pig intended to be destroyed, you would have realized what you were doing after the complaint and apologized. I can only conclude that you are an anti-Semite.

Xmal November 4, 2014, 19:52:02

“I can only conclude that you are an anti-Semite….” Jesus Christ, is there anything that doesn’t offend religious people? You seem to spend yor entire lives looking for things to be offended by. That you are more offended by a symbol on an inflatable pig at a rock concert than you are by the murder and manipultion taking place in the name of your religion just sums up why he was right to do it. And no, I am not anti-Semitic either, actually I am totally indifferent to all your ridiculous religions, I hold all of them in equal contempt. Except Catholicism, that truly is evil and far worse than any of the others. Also, while I am here, can I ask you to please stop blaming the entire human race for the holocaust. We’re all really sorry and we wouldn’t have had that happen to you. That was the Nazis. We got the hell rid of them as soon as we could. Lost a lot of good people in the process. Its only an inflatable pig at a rock concert. There’s far more pressing things to be offended by.

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