Roger Waters: I'm not anti-Semitic, I'm anti-occupation

Pink Floyd bassist defends himself after ADL slams animation used in The Wall concert, which shows Stars of David next to dollar signs.

October 5, 2010 10:26
2 minute read.
Roger Waters performing.

Roger Waters 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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Pink Floyd's Roger Waters denied being anti-Semitic in an open letter to the UK newspaper The Independent on Monday, after the Anti-Defamation League slammed him for using "imagery long associated with steretotypes about Jews and money."

In Waters' The Wall Live tour, during performances of the song "Goodbye Blue Sky," a animated B52 bomber plane is shown dropping bombs shaped like the Star of David, dollar signs and logos for Shell Oil and Mercedes. The ADL released a statement saying Waters "cross[ed] the line into anti-Semitism."

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In response, Waters told The Independent: "If I don't respond, people will see the story and will come to believe I'm anti-Semitic, and I'm not. Nothing could be further from the truth."

"I watch the workings of politics [in the US] and particularly the Republican Party," Waters said. "They work with the axiom that you can tell as many lies as you want – and often the bigger the better – and eventually they will believed."

Waters said that the images used in the concert are "representative of religious and national and commercial interests, all of which have a malign influence on our lives and prevent us from treating each other decently".

He added that accusations of anti-Semitism are "a screen" that the ADL hides behind. "I don't think they should be taken seriously on that. You can attack Israeli policy without being anti-Jewish," Waters said. "It's like saying if you criticise the US policy you are being anti-Christian. I'm critical of the Israeli policy of occupying Palestinian land and their policy of building settlements, which is entirely illegal under international law, and also of ghettoising the people whose land they are building on."

"It's that foreign policy I'm against. It's nothing to do with the religion," Waters explained in The Independent.


Waters also quoted the ADL's mission statement: "to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike, and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against ridicule of any sect or body of citizens."

"Perhaps we should all focus on that lofty ideal and stop cowering in our corners throwing stones at one another," Waters quipped.

In a statement released last week, Abraham Foxman, the director of the Anti-Defamation League said: "While [Rogers] insists that his intent was to criticize Israel's West Bank security fence, the use of such imagery in a concert setting seems to leave the message open to interpretation, and the meaning could easily be misunderstood as a comment about Jews and money."

"Of course Waters has every right to express his political views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through his music and stagecraft. However, the images he has chosen, when put together in the same sequence, cross a line into anti-Semitism."

"We wish that Waters had chosen some other way to convey his political views without playing into and dredging up the worst age-old anti-Semitic stereotype about Jews and their supposed obsession with making money," Foxman added.

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