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August 1, 2013 4:19 pm

EXCLUSIVE: SWC’s Rabbi Cooper Responds to Roger Waters’s Open Letter: ‘He Needs a Reality Check’

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Roger Waters. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

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.

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  • Steph

    The Star of David is, first and foremost, the symbol of the Jewish people. Anyone who respects this people should forbid themselves from using it in such a provocative and incendiary way.

    Everyone is free to criticise Israel policies, and many do, often vigorously, and sometimes even quite rightly. This can be done without a once of anti-Semitism.

    However playing with symbols that were (and still are) the vehicle of anti-Semitism, is a completely different story.

    As an artist, that he pretends to be, Roger Walters should be able to find ways of expressing his opinions without hurting the feelings of so many of us.

    A nice way out of his colossal mistake would simply be to apologise rather than digging his hole even lower with such lame and ridiculous justifications.

  • Terry

    Nice one Roger!! ‘Some of my best friends are Jews’. That excuses anything, doesn’t it? Even excuses anti-Semitism!!

    And this anti-Semite has the chutzpah to be annoyed at being labelled anti-Semitic (ie racist, bigoted, a hater)!! Let him artistically hang a Koran on a pig at his next concert. He certainly won’t be accused of being anti-muslim – he won’t live long enough for that to happen!!

    Waters supports evil. He has shown himself to be evil. And the Jewish People won’t put up with evil, not the ones who aren’t Waters’ best mates, anyway. People like Waters made Nazism possible. People like Waters made Shoah happen.

    • Kevin Ryan

      To Terry et al:

      Those here, including yourself, who were critical of Waters’ defense that “he has jewish friends”, should take note, that point was cleverly truncated above. Those “friends”, as Waters notes, include Simon Wisenthal’s own family and Waters’ own grandchildren. One would think this makes the claim that Waters is an anti-semite somewhat vacuous.

      However, to those who play the race card at early every hand, there is no defense…the accusation is in and of itself both the trial and conviction. This approach gets tired, and is akin to laughing at one’s own joke after awhile. Everyone who disagrees with you is not a racist, and eventually, only you believe it to be true.

    • Charles Green

      the only nazi, from what I’m reading, is You

  • Phil Botha

    I unreservedly accept the explanation given by Roger Waters. His are the only lines here that actually make sense. He wrote the music, and he is the only person that understands what it was all about. Unfortunately this conversation has mostly degenerated into a froth at the mouth, kneejerk outpouring of opinionated and irrational nonsense, by some who seem to claim the exclusive rights to moral high ground. (Ask Bernie Madoff about that one!)The majority of these commentators seem not to want to accept this truth as it contradicts their own bent version of what they want it to be. The floating pig has been a part of the show since the 80’s, and its presence has been rather satirical than anything else. Rock on Roger!!

  • Ephraim

    Those who defend Roger Waters’ position may wish to reconsider. In response to his Open Letter, I posted:
    “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during a 1968 appearance at Harvard University (see )

    For a guy who felt so compelled to defend himself in an Open Letter on his FaceBook page, Waters has offered no response to date. Res ipsa loquitur.

  • judi gardner

    I knew there was a reason I have outgrown Pink Floyd…I would like to say that. “some of my best friends are British anti-semites”, but that would be so untrue…I would like to believe he is more naive than hardcore but…what do I know!

  • Meshulam

    So he “covers his bum” by putting a cross and a crescent on the pig. Does the pig have the symbol of the EU (the ring of stars)? Does it have a Union Jack, symbolic of his homeland?

    Does he decry the barbarism of the Syrian, Sudanese, and Iranian regimes, the Boku Haram in Nigeria, the Chinese regime in Tibet, and that which was so rampanr in the history of his own people (towards, for example, the indigenous people in Australia) to an extent that is commensurate relative to his criticism of Israel and Jews?

    If not, then why not?

    The silence of his acolytes on this point is deafening.

  • Rob

    There’s a cross and a star of david. The question is, is there a crescent? If not then we can guess what worldview Waters is coming from

    • Potet

      Yes, there’s a crescent too. If you look up “Run Like Hell live” on YouTube, you’ll find the satirical act where the pig enters the audience. If you look up “Goodbye Blue Sky live”, you’ll see the introduction to the symbols that later appears on the pig. He really treats the three religions exactly the same..

      I don’t really think Waters is the one who needs a reality check. I doubt Muslims would like have anything more to do with pigs than Jews. Neither does the crescent symbolize Muslims (or the star symbolize Jews); It symbolizes the religions, which is fundamentally different.

      • Tabitha Korol


  • Noevil9

    The armed guards are not there because Roger Waters flys a pig with the Star of David printed on it. The armed guards are there because, Israel commits crimes against the Palestinians ,and its neighbors with airplanes , tanks and soldiers which have the Star of David printed on them.Also maybe for what some Jewish people do, that does not agree with the rest of humanity. I for one just don’t believe, that all Jews think and pbelieve,some people do not like them,just because they are Jewish ,and nothing else. They think of themselves as being the ultimate innocents, and victims at the same time. Jews don’t ever do anything wrong, its the evil Goys! Pleas ,tell me that is not true. Just because I don’t know who is out there who will believe such a thing ?

    • Anna

      Armed guards have been outside Jewish institutions worldwide since the 1970s when your dear friends started their terrorist activities against Jews (not Israelis). I know because I have attended synagogues, had children at Jewish schools and worked for Jewish organisations.

      Please give detailed verifyable facts (not Palestinian accusations) of ‘crimes Israel commits against the Palestinians and its neighbours’ (I suppose you are of the ilk that blames Israel for all the problems in Egypt, Syria and Libya). Israel does not deliberately fire rockets into unarmed civilian areas, Israel does not constantly threaten its neighbours with exinction, Israel does not deliberately target and blow up Palestinian civilians in their schools, hospitals, universities, restaurant, planes, trains and buses etc etc. What is about Jews legitimately defending themselves that angers you so much?

    • Harold

      Nazi scum

  • Karsten Bannier

    Ah…the old story of how “some of my best friends are Jews”,well they’re certainly not going to be his friends now. I find it amazing how some of the worlds greatest talents can become such idiots,some sooner than others !!
    I’m sure that he’ll be very proud of the legacy that he leaves behind once he has departed from this world…

  • NuritG

    I wish Waters a life without the benefits of any technology or medicine invented by Jews. To hell with all neo Nazis and their facilitators.

    • guido

      which ones?

  • k

    “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.”

    Well said Rabbi!

  • Fred

    Roger Waters is a dirty pig who loves wallowing in the mire of anti Semitism. This is the only way he know how to show himself a pig of no talent but hate. Famous words my best friend are……..
    I apologise to the pigs because they at least are useful but is hateful Waters????

  • Bad taste Roger, Bad Manners to attempt to denie intent, Bad thoughts must be floating around in your Head. “WHY!” Have we Jews ever done anything to you personally

  • BH in Iowa

    “And if he dials back from those two, then he’ll never have to hear from this critic again,” Cooper concluded.

    Right on! Merciless response!

  • Sara Springer

    Bravo! Rabbi Cooper

  • CT

    Hahahaha, this Abraham Cooper guy isn’t very observant. There is also a Christian Cross on the pig! Get a clue, Abe – and take in some culture besides your own once in a while.

  • Waters needs to ask himself why the star of David is on the pig in the first place. It is not a common juxtaposition of conceits. The use of pig imagery as an insult to Jews is commonplace, but in the West pigs have wider, mainly friendly interpretations (e.g. piggy banks). An inflatable pig was used on the cover of Pink Flloyd’s “Animals’, floating above Battersea Power Station. So Waters had an existing image that he could use for his musical purposes. But her chose to put,. of all things, a Star of David on it. The Star of David connotes many things, mainly Israel and Judaism. If he says he only intends the former, he is being crafty, since the image evokes Jews and Judaism just as much or more. He knows this, but divests his pig of any anti-Semitic intent. I do not believe him. Putting a Magen Dovid on a pig is not something that pops easily into the mind. It is not an obvious association, unless you are an anti-Semite. He cannot be unaware of the widespread Islamic description of Jews as the sons of apes and pigs. If possible, he should be arrested and tried on a hate speech charge. But then, I suppose, pigs may fly.

    • Mike

      That’s a good one!

  • Tell Roger Waters, He’s in Muddy Waters . He rang rthe bell . He cannot un-ring the bell he rang. I hardley know who he is. i don’t care to know . One thing I know he is not a friend to this Jewish Woman or anyoneone I know and never will be. He is a considered enemy. His pig is probably his blow-up girlfriend,

  • Jason Venana

    It’s pretty well known in some circles that Waters is a covert agent of the Israeli intelligence forces and that this is all nothing but a cover for his clandestine activities.

  • dante

    waters is, unfortunately, a dummy and he doesn’t know much. but but that won’t stop waters: he will continue to “ride the pig” to propagate his adamant and hateful opinions.