The Dark Side of Roger Waters

The anti-Semitism of an aging rocker.

By 12.18.13



There is a dark side to Roger Waters when it comes to Israel. When asked about his support for a cultural boycott of Israel in an interview with Counterpunch magazine earlier this month, the ex-Pink Floyd front man likened the Jewish State to Nazi Germany:

The situation in Israel/ Palestine, with the occupation, the ethnic cleansing and the systematic racist apartheid Israeli regime is unacceptable. So for an artist to go and play in a country that occupies other people’s land and oppresses them the way Israel does, is plain wrong. They should say no. I would not have played for the Vichy government in occupied France in the Second World War, I would not have played in Berlin either during this time. Many people did, back in the day. There were many people that pretended that the oppression of the Jews was not going on. From 1933 until 1946. So this is not a new scenario. Except that this time it’s the Palestinian People being murdered.

Meanwhile, the Waters’ interview becomes progressively more disturbing:

The voice, for instance, of the right wing rabbinate, which is so bizarre and hard to hear that you can hardly believe that it’s real. They believe some very weird stuff you know, they believe that everybody that is not a Jew is only on earth to serve them and they believe that the Indigenous people of the region that they kicked off the land in 1948 and have continued to kick off the land ever since are sub-human. The parallels with what went on in the 30’s in Germany are so crushingly obvious that it doesn’t surprise me that the movement that both you and I are involved in is growing every day.

So, according to Waters, Israel in the 2010s is the equivalent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and is planning to systematically kill all Palestinians as a final solution to eliminate them from the face of the earth. It is, of course, fatuous nonsense. Let us remember that the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat considered Haji Amin Al Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, a “hero.” Arafat’s “hero” was received in Nazi Germany by none other than Adolf Hitler in November 1941. The Grand Mufti supported Hitler’s Final Solution while Hitler supported the Grand Mufti’s desire to eliminate the Jewish presence in the Middle East.

While Hitler remains reviled in most of the civilized world, he is admired in Palestinian civil society. Some Palestinian families name their children after Hitler while both the Fatah and Hamas led government run media publish articles praising the Führer. So Waters likens Israel to Nazi Germany yet praises the Palestinians who have long admired Hitler. But I suppose we can only expect so much of Waters who also made reference to the “Jewish lobby” in the interview. Note that Waters speaks not of the Israeli lobby, but of the Jewish lobby.

Roger Waters is, pure and simple, an anti-Semite.

Just this past summer Waters released an inflated pig bearing the Star of David at concerts in both The Netherlands and in Belgium. Waters also used the Star of David accompanied by a dollar sign on a backdrop of a B-52 bomber during The Wall tour in this country back in 2010. Naturally, Waters protests that he isn’t anti-Semitic and that he only objects to Israel’s foreign policy.

Waters not only objects to Israel’s foreign policy he objects to all things Israel. (Well, perhaps not to beautiful Israeli women. He used an image of Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli during his concerts. Indeed, Refaeli was initially flattered when she saw her image while attending his show in Paris in 2011. But after Waters called for a cultural boycott of Israel this year, Refaeli demanded he stop using her image at his concerts. She took to Twitter writing, “If you’re boycotting — go all the way.”) 

His affection for Bar Refaeli notwithstanding, Waters has pretty much gone all the way with boycotting Israel. He refuses to perform in Israel, a sanction he places on no other nation. Although Waters did criticize the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdrogan for its crackdown against protesters this past summer, this did not prevent him from performing in Istanbul this past August. Waters also performed in Turkey in June 2006. In recent years, Waters has also performed in such beacons of enlightenment such as China, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela while Hugo Chavez was still in power.

Now some of you might ask, “Who cares if Roger Waters likens Israel to Nazi Germany?” Indeed, it could be said that Waters is nothing more than an aging rock n’ roller who hasn’t put out any music of note in over 30 years? But Waters’ work with Pink Floyd endures in popular culture. Albums such as Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall continue to resonate in the second decade of the 21st century. Consequently, Waters remains a viable concert attraction.

When Roger Waters sings people listen the world over. Performers like Waters give anti-Semitism a respectable veneer. When anti-Semitism is permitted to permeate through popular individuals and institutions, it can spread like a cancer through polite society and eventually lead to the triumph of evil. As Edmund Burke wrote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Sadly, the good men and women of Europe are doing nothing and anti-Semitism has become increasingly socially acceptable. Waters’ words and deeds have caused little controversy across the Atlantic. It’s all the more reason for Rogers Waters words and deeds against Israel to be vigorously challenged here. If they aren’t then we will have permitted another brick to reinforce the wall of anti-Semitism.

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About the Author
Aaron Goldstein writes from Boston, Massachusetts.