Sponsor of Portugal arena where Roger Waters will perform is one of wealthiest Israelis

Patrick Drahi’s, spokesperson: ‘He regrets it deeply,’ but explained he legally has no ability to cancel the concert, even though he tried

Roger Waters, draped with a Palestinian keffiyeh (photo credit: REUTERS)
Roger Waters, draped with a Palestinian keffiyeh
(photo credit: REUTERS)

The Jewish Community of Porto has criticized anti-Israel rock star Roger Waters who will be touring Europe in the next few weeks and performing in Portugal but are especially troubled by the fact that the venue’s main sponsor is the Altice company, owned by French-Israeli businessman Patrick Drahi.

The Pink Floyd bassist is a leading proponent of the BDS movement against Israel.

The venue in Lisbon is the Altice Arena, which is among the largest indoor arenas in Europe and the largest in Portugal with a capacity of 20,000 people.

A member of the Lisbon Jewish community told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that “we were shocked when we heard that Waters was coming to perform in our country and even more surprised when we found out that he will perform at the arena that is sponsored by an Israeli Jew.”

A spokesperson on behalf of Drahi told the Post on Thursday that “Altice would like to point out that it is the naming sponsor of the largest concert hall in Lisbon, Portugal, but has no control over the programming and the artists who perform there.”

An inflatable pig with a Star of David painted on it was displayed during a Roger Waters performance of The Wall in Belgium in 2013 (credit: Courtesy)An inflatable pig with a Star of David painted on it was displayed during a Roger Waters performance of The Wall in Belgium in 2013 (credit: Courtesy)

The spokesperson explained that the review of the contracts linking Altice to this concert hall “does not allow Altice to intervene,” yet he emphasized that “obviously, the founder of Altice specifies that he doesn’t associate himself with this event and regrets it deeply.”

He continued by explaining that “as soon as it became aware of the programming, Altice reached out to the owner of the concert hall to see if it was possible to cancel, but the owner said it was too late and [they] could not cancel [the concert] as all the tickets were already sold out.”

59-year-old Drahi is considered to be a pro-Israel philanthropist and investor. He is one of the wealthiest citizens of Israel and owns major communications companies such as Hot and i24NEWS. He has established The Patrick and Lina Drahi Foundation, with his wife. According to the foundation’s website, PLFA focuses on Science, Education, Israel, the Jewish People, Entrepreneurship, Innovation and the Arts. “The Drahis aim to share the fruits of their success with the community wherever the family has its roots or business activities, taking part in projects based in Israel, Portugal, Switzerland, France and the USA.”

Oporto Jewish community

The Jewish Community of Oporto published a statement on Tuesday regarding the upcoming concerts of Waters in Lisbon, but wouldn’t mention Drahi. They said that they “regret the presence in Portugal of Roger Waters,” and invited him to visit the City’s Holocaust Museum.

“The Directorate of the Jewish Community of Oporto regrets the presence in Portugal of Roger Waters and the silence of the news media on the ideology of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) that he espouses,” the community statement said.

“If the singer’s tour in Portugal, scheduled for March 17 and 18, is not suspended, he is invited to visit the Oporto Holocaust Museum, which dedicates a space to the perverse ideology of BDS,” the Oporto Jewish community stated.

They added that “the persecution of Jews over millennia, based on ideas of religion, culture, race, money and success, has been converted in the modern period to the despicable hatred of the State of Israel. This continues to attract supporters from all segments of society.

“Waters knows that he has a big influence on his fans and that his ideas about Israel can arm crowds that will fire shots tomorrow.

“The silence in the West regarding BDS, which advocates the economic, political, academic and cultural isolation of the State of Israel, goes hand in hand with Soviet antisemitism dedicated to destroying all truly relevant Jewish realities in the Diaspora.”

One reason that the community probably  hasn’t mentioned Drahi is that in 2017, he received Portuguese citizenship as he was acknowledged as a descendant of Sephardic Jews, according to a then-new law.

In July, Portuguese police searched the home of the curator of the Jewish Museum in Porto and the offices of several Portuguese lawyers who work with the Jewish community in handling citizenship applications.

The lawyers, according to the Jewish community, were given a list of 20 wealthy Jews who have received Portuguese citizenship since the law came into effect in 2015, including businessmen Lev Leviev, God Nisanov, Andrei Rappoport, Sir Michael Kadoorie and also Drahi.

In 2013, Walters used a giant, pig-shaped balloon emblazoned with a Star of David and symbols of dictatorial regimes during a concert in Belgium. He has also likened the treatment of Palestine by Israel to Nazi Germany.

On Monday it was reported that Waters has been blocked from performing in Frankfurt after the city called him “one of the world’s most well-known antisemites.”

Waters had been scheduled to perform on May 28 at Frankfurt’s Festhalle, which during the Holocaust was the site of the deportation of 3,000 Jews to their deaths just after Kristallnacht.

“The Israelis seem now to have a policy of... murdering so many of them [Palestinians] that they are absolutely trying to create another intifada – so they can make it an armed conflict... so they can just kill them all,” he said in October, adding that Israel is provoking the Palestinians into an armed conflict in order to manufacture an excuse to destroy them.

JTA contributed to this report.