EXCLUSIVE: SWC’s Rabbi Cooper Responds to Roger Waters’s Open Letter: ‘He Needs a Reality Check’
Following the publication Thursday of Roger Waters’s open letter responding to accusations of anti-Semitism leveled against him over an inflatable pig concert prop emblazoned with a Star of David being featured at one of his concerts, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, to whom the letter was addressed, told The Algemeiner that Waters needs “a reality check.”
“I’m representing an institution that represents the reality, not the cultural imagery, of anti-Semitism and Jew hatred. So whatever his motivation, it is the impact of the things he is doing: the images he uses, his affiliation with the BDS movement,” said Cooper, who referred to Waters as an “open hater of Jews” after footage of the pig balloon was initially released.
Rabbi Cooper explained that the real dangers posed to Jews in Europe are manifold, and that Waters’s imagery is toxic and incendiary: “The reality of 2013 means he needs a reality check and to rate that over his cultural and political viewpoint.”
“Every Jewish institution in Europe has armed guards in front of it. And this guy has the chutzpah to float a pig that has the Star of David on it. It’s an update of the classic Jewish stereotype that goes back to the middle ages. You can’t get a more fundamentally anti-Semitic symbol than that,” Cooper said.
In the open letter published on his Facebook page, musician Roger Waters said that Cooper’s “accusations are so wild and bigoted they demand a response,” and he defended himself by saying he has “many very close Jewish friends.”
“He’s a creative man. He needs to find another creative way to make a statement without floating a pig with the Star of David on it, because that’s anti-Semitic,” Rabbi Cooper said.
“He has every right to criticize Israeli policies. He can do that all he wants but if, as he says, he’s not an anti-Semite he needs to walk out of the BDS movement. Because BDS is not a protest against Israeli policies, it’s designed to get rid of Israel.
“Here’s the bottom line: walk out of the movement, lose the pig. The door to the Museum of Tolerance will be open any time. If he wants to come and have a discussion with me on any of the issues he raises he’s welcome to do so. He needs to hold up a mirror, look at what’s going on across Europe, and I don’t expect him to have the same collective memory about Warsaw that the Jewish people has, or about Berlin that we have, but the idea that he can just prance around Europe on tour and float that pig while members of the Jewish community have to make sure that armed guards are out front of the daycare so that they’ll be protected is an outrage.
“And if he dials back from those two, then he’ll never have to hear from this critic again,” Cooper concluded.