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August 1, 2013 1:48 pm

Roger Waters Defends Himself Against Charges of Anti-Semitism: ‘I Have Many Very Close Jewish Friends’

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The pig's hind quarters appear to feature a silhouette of a man giving a Nazi salute. Photo: Screenshot.

In an open letter published on his Facebook page, musician Roger Waters, a fierce anti-Israel advocate, responded to allegations made by Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center last week in an interview with The Algemeiner that Waters is an “open hater of Jews.”

“Often I can ignore these attacks, but Rabbi Cooper’s accusations are so wild and bigoted they demand a response,” Waters begins his riposte, then, addressing Cooper directly, writes: “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.'”

The Algemeiner’s report cited Alon Onfus Asif, an Israeli Jew, who attended a Waters show in Belgium and spotted the Jewish Star of David affixed to an inflatable pig alongside “other symbols for fascism, dictatorships and oppression of people.” He posted footage of the offensive display on YouTube.

In the video the pig’s hind quarters appear to feature a silhouette of a man giving a Nazi salute.

In the letter, Waters responds to the allegations by claiming that the Star of David was one of many symbols used in his show, 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.”

Waters points out that the pig has appeared at 193 performances since September 2010, and last week’s was the first complaint. He said “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.”

In his letter, Waters contends that he has “many very close Jewish friends,” including  “Simon Wiesenthal’s nephew,” and his two grandsons whose “mother, my daughter in law, is Jewish and so, in consequence, I’m told, are they.”

Perhaps emboldened by his extensive Jewish connections, Waters then launches into an anti-Israel tirade. “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,” Waters charges.

Read Waters’ letter in full, below:

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.

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