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Roger Waters’ Performances and Anti-Semitism

Roger Waters’ Performances and Anti-Semitism

A celebrity influencer who believes Jews rule the world, Israelis are subhuman, and supports every effort to eradicate the Jewish state.

Former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters has been playing concerts based on the band’s movie The Wall for many years. The concerts, with various slogans projected onto the stage, serve as a vehicle for the septuagenarian’s politics. As expected from many corporate rock figures, his politics are far left. What sets the man apart is his hysterical antisemitism and fascist theatrics.

In the 2010s, for instance, he placed dollar signs next to the Star of David in the backdrop of his performances. His last show featured a giant pig with the Star of David amidst corporate logos. The association of Jews with money and the “pig” slander could have come from Der Sturmer.

Consider his offstage politics to grasp what Waters is trying to accomplish artistically fully. His activism is devoted primarily to pressuring other performers to join the BDS movement to boycott Israel. The musician attributed his relative failure to persuade others to, among other things, the “extraordinary powerful” Jewish lobby. That power somehow failed to prevent the hippy celebrity from scoring interviews in major publications and high-profile public appearances during which he spews blood libels and world domination theories.

Waters is secure in the belief that a Jewish “cabal” runs the world. Conservative Jewish donor Sheldon Adelson, for instance, is a “fascist” “puppet master” who is “filling the coffers and pulling all the strings.” In the UK, the rock-n-roller believes the “Israel lobby” cost Jeremy Corbyn the election.

Waters mouthed the age-old belief that Jews are baby killers. He, for instance, accused Bon Jovi of standing “shoulder to shoulder with the settler who burned the [Palestinian] baby.” Here, he referred to a rare instance of Israeli terrorism, an arson attack roundly condemned and investigated in Israel. Survivors of the arson were treated in an Israeli hospital. At least Waters didn’t say anything about blood-baked matzos.

The performer regularly employs meaningless catchphrases like “settler-colonialism” and “apartheid” in relation to Israel. The most significant libel is the claim that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians. In reality, the Arab population of the Holy Land exploded under Israeli rule. The accusations of genocide look like a projection considering that Waters passionately supports the party in the conflict that rejected every single peace deal, promises to “throw Jews into the sea,” and sent suicide bombers to blow themselves up among women and children.

Like a model antisemite, Waters sees Jews as the root of all evil. After the death of George Floyd in police custody in 2020, Waters bizarrely claimed that Israel teaches American cops deadly restraining techniques even though the knee-to-neck maneuver, widely practiced the world over, is not used in the Jewish state.

Although he says that it’s “the Israeli state who believe that the Jewish people are superior, more important than any of those people, those people’s lives are worthless,” he appears to be, again, projecting: in the musician’s rhetoric, Israelis are subhuman. Waters once likened Israel hosting the Eurovision festival to the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers “because it seems it may have been taken over by [aliens].” In 2022, in an unhinged monologue, the musician insisted that the Jewish state should be compared to the Third Reich and called on its citizens to “join the human race.” He then employed a cleansing metaphor good enough for the Gestapo, calling Zionism “an ugly stain” that “needs to be gently removed.”

Despite it all, Waters denies being antisemitic, saying he has Jewish friends. On at least one occasion, he tried to redefine antisemitism, projecting the slogan “Resist Israeli anti-semitism [sic]” onto the stage during his 2018 concerts in Poland. The Jewish Daly Forward explained that the entertainer was flirting with the idea that Jews themselves are not Semitic people but are oppressing Semitic Arabs. Aside from the fact that “antisemitism” simply means “Jew-hate,” for Waters to believe that Jews are not Semitic, he must be subscribing to the conspiracy theory that Jews are Khazars.

That Waters is an antisemite is not a question; the man regularly spouts Jew-hate. His former bandmate David Gilmour agrees with this assessment, incidentally. I am a free speech absolutist; I believe every antisemite has the right to spout his antisemitism. Germany, however, has its own idea of an orderly society, and some forms of incitement are forbidden. Waters couldn’t perform there until a court in Frankfurt ruled in his favor.

He then played a few concerts in May, and because it’s Germany, Jewish protesters in Berlin were removed by police. At a later event, fans attacked Jewish protesters with Israeli flags. German journalist Nicholas Potter reported on the show. It went as expected.

In the best tradition of fascism, Waters projected slogans dividing society into “us” and “them”:

Above all, it is an evening with a clear world view. There is “us”, “the good guys” – and the bad guys who have to be fought. “They’re evil”, flickers across the LED screen above the crucifix-shaped stage in the middle of the arena, while Waters’ reworking of the Pink Floyd hit “Us and Them” plays. The ominous enemy remains for the most part nameless. Here, Waters uses tropes that are structurally antisemitic: “They must think we’re fucking stupid!”, a comic-style speech bubble reads. “Who do you mean by they?” – “Them, up there in the penthouse, the fucking oligarchs” – “Ah, you mean…” – “THE POWERS THAT BE.” An ominous, all-powerful elite that is not explicitly named – this is the antisemitic blueprint from which many conspiracy narratives operate.

Waters creates a conspiratorial gap that functions as a dog whistle, an antisemitically tinged allusion. Why are “they” so brutal, asks the next speech bubble? Answer: because “they” want to destroy our resistance and continue ruling the world. It’s about a powerful enemy, acting in the dark, pulling strings behind the scenes and threatening our very existence. Against “them up there”. Against enemies who are repeatedly portrayed as dehumanised figures in the course of the evening. A dangerous narrative that has led to violence against Jews for centuries.

Offstage, of course, Waters espoused Elders of Zion-like ideas.

Waters donned a Nazi-like uniform and machine gun during the concert and pretended to shoot up the audience. On stage, he flashed the name of Ann Frank and then the Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who the IDF accidentally shot during an anti-terror raid. Potter explained the musician’s thought process:

Her “crime” according to Waters: “being Palestinian”, her punishment: “death”.

The name of George Floyd was also flashed. It all makes sense in Waters’s view, where the Jews take the place of the Nazis, committing genocide against Palestinians — and are also responsible for American policing. In his play, he used the memory of the Holocaust against the Jews.

The musician’s defenders make two points. First, some publications apparently misreported that the pig at the Berlin concert had a Star of David on it — examples of the ex-Pink Floyd’s antisemitism are aplenty, and it’s easy to get lost in them. Waters uses a new pig for each concert, and the one in Berlin, according to Potter, had the logo of Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems. That Jews are responsible for all wars in the world is a standard antisemitic trope.

The second line of defense is that Waters is merely enacting the part of a fascist from his movie The Wall, and that the movie provides important context for his concerts. As well-meaning as this explanation may sometimes be, it gets the performer backward. The Wall doesn’t put his allegedly lip-syncing shows in context. Roger Waters’s antisemitism is the context for The Wall. He play-acts as a fascist dictator because he is obsessed with the phantom Jewish menace — and the dead Jewish girl named Ann Frank.

Waters is no anti-fascist — the very name of his tour, Us and Them, is fascistic. Even the movie that’s supposed to excuse his antics has a song, “In The Flesh,” with the lyric:

Now, that one looks Jewish
And that one’s a coon
Who let all this riffraff into the room?
There’s one smoking a joint
And another with spots

If I had my way, I’d have all of them shot

It’s a strange phantasy that, at the very least, minimizes the Holocaust. No, illegal drug users are not — and never were — victims of genocide. On the other hand, Waters has no sympathy for the real Holocaust survivors, most of whom fled to Eretz, Israel.

One might argue that Waters takes a libertarian position, warning about the potential emergence of a fascist regime. But Waters, who, over the years, praised Putin, Xi, BLM, and the Palestinian cause, is no libertarian.

It’s telling that in his lengthy letter addressing the Jewish outcry about his performance, Waters did not address any of these points. He instead said that his father paid the ultimate price fighting the Nazis. That seems doubly tragic to me.

I don’t know why Roger Waters is the way he is. He’s just a weirdo entertainer who shouldn’t be taken seriously by intelligent people. On the other hand, he sees his music as secondary to politics. This makes him a celebrity influencer who believes Jews rule the world, Israelis are subhuman, and supports every effort to eradicate the Jewish state. That he role plays a fascist is the cherry on top.


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Why would anyone listen to a burned out rock band member, decades past his last significant contribution to music?

It’s like listening to a burned out software thief as if he is any authority on anything except stealing software. Courtesy phone for Mr. Gates….

Fleeting fame is not expertise or competence.

    markinct in reply to Dimsdale. | May 31, 2023 at 7:36 am

    Yet many people do listen to this hateful crank…

    Peabody in reply to Dimsdale. | May 31, 2023 at 10:22 am

    Joe Biden’s a burned out president who is decades past his last significant contribution to politics.

    But he’s still still supported by 99% of the media, school teachers, tiktok, Hollywood, BLM, antifa, Facebook, Google and college students from sea to shining sea.

G. de La Hoya | May 31, 2023 at 8:09 am

According to Water’s bio, he’s on his 5th marriage, nuff said?.
Maybe he needs do-goody-good bullsh*t money 😉
Maybe he has to make a scene to be seen 🙂

Sounds like Mr. Waters and Louis Farrakhan should be best buds.

What’s really weird is he went from hating fascists (see The Wall) to being one. That’s what Progressivism will do to your brain.

If he play-acted as an anti-Semite fascist on stage as a warning, that would fine. But it’s his offstage comments that seem to reinforce his onstage persona.

Why does a grasp of music notation theory bestow upon someone a political opinion more important than others?

Roger Waters’ expressions are very abrasive but criticizing Jews and Israel is part of culture of free speech. Criticism should be allowed of any group.
The Jewish community includes leaders in every sphere especially the media, the publishing houses, University faculty, Corporate heads and close to 50% of the top 1%. Criticizing those who rule and those who belong among the elite, is required for any nation to function.

But if those who lead the nation, have the power, and are among the elite, silence those who criticize them by using victimhood then their rule becomes oppressive. The accusation of Antisemitism silences the accusers and criticizers allowing those who rule to do whatever they want.

There are many innocents among the Jewish community. They can do three things, and this is true of any community. Be silent to the wrongs of the most powerful among them, actively support the bad behavior, or join in the criticism of that bad behavior. But to choose to only play the victim role in order to silence criticism makes it worse at the end.

    guyjones in reply to Rohan. | May 31, 2023 at 4:22 pm

    Your post is naive and myopic, at least vis-a-vis criticism of Israel.

    The problem you’re not addressing is the salient reality that Leftists/Dumb-o-crats’ criticism of Israel is intrinsically biased, hypocritical, unbalanced, unfair and historically and theologically ignorant/dishonest. It’s grounded in a slew of contrived and ideological alleged “victimhood” and “oppressor” narratives that have nothing to do with objective reality.

    As Exhibits A, B and C, I offer you the oft-repeated, vicious and hateful Leftist/Democrat slanders that Israel represents an alleged “apartheid” state; that Israelis are alleged “colonists” of land on which their ancestors have been living on for millennia before the founding of the supremacist, totalitarian and belligerent ideology of “Submission;” and, of course, Leftists’/Dumb-o-crats’ persistent, dishonest and morally bankrupt whitewashing/rationalizing/inability to criticize Submission’s intrinsic and innumerable pathologies, including perpetual belligerence against non-Muslims (including Israeli Jews), misogyny and corrupt, self-impoverishing leadership.

    guyjones in reply to Rohan. | May 31, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    And, your assertion that Jews allegedly “play the victim” is a lazy and stupid regurgitation of the most common, Jew-hating slanders.

    Your post is really a piece of rubbish, and, not profound or valid, in the least.

      cheeflo in reply to guyjones. | June 1, 2023 at 10:40 am

      “… part of the culture of free speech …”

      No one is arguing otherwise. Free speech doesn’t endow pernicious speech with automatic validity. It doesn’t even ensure that the speech is rational.

      Part of that equation is criticism of pernicious and offensive speech.

      In this culture of celebrated victimhood, the Jewish community doesn’t engage in it like every other grievance group. On the other hand, they are genuine victims of institutionalized hatred. And still, they live their lives and continue to thrive. An example to us all.

    broomhandle in reply to Rohan. | May 31, 2023 at 5:51 pm

    Censorship is not the issue. The issue is that a famous artist uses his platform to propagate hateful propaganda. It may be legal for him to do so, but it is also perfectly legal to counter his lies and tell him to cut it out. That is not censorship; the government is not stopping his public Jew hate. RW makes no good faith criticism of Israel or Jews and that is plain to see.

    Katya Rapoport Sedgwick in reply to Rohan. | May 31, 2023 at 11:52 pm

    I have a feeling you didn’t read the post. Of course Waters can be an antisemite and propagate antisemitic opinions. I don’t know why you brought up the free speech issue. It’s a misdirection designed to shut up Waters’s critics.

    It sounds like you agree with Waters, you just don’t want us to respond.

Thad Jarvis | May 31, 2023 at 1:28 pm

Waters has always been a pretentious dullard. Pink Floyd’s best work was all prior to Dark Side of the Moon up to and including Obscured by Clouds. The Wall is an overrated mess.

Free speech; however what is wrong with this guys head. The long black leather coat, red, black arm band and what looks like Schmeisser machine pistol. What other conclusions. It’s sad. A couple months ago Steve Vansant called Republicans cockroaches who should die. Guess they all forgot where much of their money came from. Think what you want, but can’t they just shut up and do what we’ve payed them to do. It’s their music we care about. The music is the only thing that makes them relevant, not their stupid opinions.

I went to a Roger Waters concert last year to “feel the warm sense of confusion, that space cadet glow”.

I loved The Wall. I loved Dark Side of the Moon, and I even loved The Final Cut.

The show was very eager to portray Trump as Big Bad Fascist Man. Strike One. What a way to tarnish an otherwise good body of work in my opinion

Then I read about Waters the person and his support of BDS. Strike 2
Israel is an island of stability in an ocean of turmoil that has done more good for the Middle East and the planet.

Guess what? Yer Out, Rog.

I can’t stomach the slime he is spewing out.

Pro-Putin? Really?

Steven Brizel | May 31, 2023 at 10:20 pm

Waters is clearly and blatantly anti Semitic