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August 20, 2013 3:28 pm

SWC Blasts ‘Horrific Anti-Semitic Character’ Roger Waters as ‘Disconnected From Reality’ After BDS Call During Peace Talks

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Roger Waters's pig balloon features a Star of David and is symbolically shot down during his performances. Photo: Screenshot.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, sharply criticized Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters Tuesday after Waters “doubled down” on his support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel with a new call for supporters to embrace a “cultural boycott of Israel.”

In an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner, Rabbi Cooper, whose recent criticism of Waters has been singled out by the musician, said that a letter Waters published, addressed to his “colleagues in Rock and Roll” calling on them to boycott Israel shows a “complete disconnect from reality,” in light of the ongoing renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the mounting death tolls last week in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, totaling some 1,700 dead.

“If I were a musician looking to protest human rights abuses today, I would be looking at Syria, at Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, everywhere but Israel,” Rabbi Cooper said. “The fact that Roger Waters would call for a boycott against Israel, when Israelis and Palestinians are actually meeting today, shows a complete disconnect from reality, and probably really just a disinterest in even the headlines of today’s newspaper, and certainly, a fundamental bias; I guess you could call it a hatred.”

“You can dress it up anyway you want, but how can Waters come down on the side of BDS, when the two sides are sitting down in negotiations, which was allegedly the original reason for creating this movement, and doing so given that the entire neighborhood of the Middle East, with the exception of Israel, is boiling over in bloodshed?” Rabbi Cooper asked.

In the open letter, Waters says he has been a supporter of the BDS movement for seven years, but made no reference to the angry outcry from human rights organizations, Jewish groups and even the Vatican newspaper, condemning a pig-shaped balloon prop emblazoned with a Star of David that appeared during his recent concerts.

Rabbi Cooper added that “the notion that he might be performing in Berlin and Warsaw around time of the [Jewish] high holidays should be enough of an outrage that maybe some of the local politicians in Germany and Poland and every country on his tour will begin to speak out directly against this horrific anti-Semitic character.”

“Unlike him, Jews in these countries are not just worried about theoretical shooting of pig balloons, but they actually are required to have armed guards at their synagogues, because of the threat of real violence,” Rabbi Cooper said. “It would also be appropriate for Jewish communities and other religious groups in the cities where he performs to speak out against him now.”

On the first day of its publication, more than 1,900 Roger Water fans have “liked” his open letter calling for the cultural boycott. Rabbi Cooper said that the British musician must have known that his anti-Semitic stance would receive a warm response in the UK.

“The UK official Jewish leadership has never come at the issue [of anti-Semitism] head on, preferring to talk about things quietly, which generally can be very positive, but may not be enough,” Rabbi Cooper said. “Every community has to approach things on their own, but it’s not just hatred of Jews anymore, it’s derision, a lack of respect. I don’t need Roger Waters to like me, but it’s important to respect there’s a Jewish state. BDS made its greatest inroads in the UK, where many people want to believe there is something fundamentally wrong with Israel, with a disrespect of Zionism that is totally uncalled for and would be inappropriate in any other country.”

In the letter, Waters wrote that he was moved to formalize his thoughts on the issue after British violinist Nigel Kennedy played in his Proms performance with The Palestine Strings, comprised of young students attending the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, and referred to  Israel as an apartheid state in remarks following the performance.

“Time to stick my head above the parapet again, alongside my brother, Nigel Kennedy, where it belongs,” Waters wrote, continuing, “I write to you now, my brothers and sisters in the family of Rock and Roll, to ask you to join with me, and thousands of other artists around the world, to declare a cultural boycott on Israel, to shed light on these problems and also to support all our brothers and sisters in Palestine and Israel who are struggling to end all forms of Israeli oppression and who wish to live in peace, justice, equality and freedom.”

He referred to his own successful effort to “persuade” American musician Stevie Wonder from performing at a fundraiser in December 2012 for the Friends of the Israeli Defense Force charity, in Los Angeles, and his own speech about the incident at the United Nations, which he said was under reported in the U.S. media. “The clear inference would be that the media in the USA is not interested in the predicament of the Palestinian people, or for that matter the predicament of the Israeli people. We can only hope they may become interested as they eventually did in the politics of apartheid South Africa,” Waters wrote.

“Maybe we are at the tipping point now with Israel and Palestine. These are good people both and they deserve a just solution to their predicament. Each and every one of them deserves freedom, justice and equal rights. Just recently the ANC, the ruling party of South Africa, has endorsed BDS. We are nearly there. Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights,” he wrote.

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  • borderlands794

    At the risk of dragging myself into this conflict, Roger Waters is not anti-Semitic. The inclusion of the star of David on the pig is not to attack the Jewish people, but some policies of Jewish countries (or rather just Israel), just as the cross and the star and crescent are not attacks on Christians and Islamic peoples. It may have been a dumb idea to put the star of David and other religious symbols on the pig, but it doesn’t mean he is racist. As for his use of Nazism, he does it highly ironically. He creates a persona that we are meant to hate, but this is not who he actually is. Please understand these things so that his true meanings against political corruption and against human hatred are not overshadowed by these false callings of anti-Semitism.

  • Linda Golden

    Roger Waters and his comardes in arms, need to head to Syria, Iraq, Egypt and the Libya etc. on his concert tours. If he is lucky, he won’t be kidnapped, shot, tortured or exposed to chemical warfare. What a jerk! Maybe he can tour the schools and hospitals and villages where citizens have been killed by their own people without any help on Israel’s part. Or maybe he should tour the bombed out, burned out Christian Coptic Churches, but I guess his hatred of Jew’s takes precedence over anything else.

  • Paula gaetti

    The man took too many drugs in the past and now he became an anti Semitic out of reality individual. . He is really some kind of a comedy persona these days . But his music still good

  • Michael Mendelson

    I agree with Rabbi Cooper 100%, but on a larger scale. This and worse is being spewed all over social media. Especially Facebook. They have given the BDS a ‘free’ platform to spew the hatred & we need to stop it with a demonstration on Oct 14 at their headquarters in Menlo Park.

    Good day, many are aware of the ‘dark’ side of social media. Just not the total extent of it. Anti Semitism, Holocaust denial, bully, credible threat of violence pages/groups and profiles are running rampant throughout Facebook. We’ve created a page about a 4 months ago & blew up to almost 12,000 likes. We have had success in removing many of these pages privately for about 2 year now. And we have just uncovered a few prostitution page with filthy pics, phone numbers and open email contacts. Some of these pages are ‘sponsored’ (paid to advertise) meaning that you have no choice to see them, not something one can just block. Or how about an app that my 16 y/o had on his feeds ? Does this belong in social media ? We can monitor our children at home, but they all have smartphones these days.

    We have successfully removed over 500 pages this past year. With a successful removal the very same admins start anew & are replaced just as fast as we get them removed. That will be just one part of our demand letter & statement that will be protesting. Yet there are well over 1,000 on our list.

    Next step of action would be, is to hold a demonstration in front of Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park. We have stared promoting and police know we are coming. All we need to do so legally has been taken care of for our protection is in place. That’s where your help comes in. We are asking for your support be writing a story on this nonsense, and help promoting further. We have close to 300 ppl willing to go & feel that 1,000’s will show. (See blog link on the bottom). The date is set to Oct 14 10am

    Online Hate Prevention, Stand With Us & Children Of Jewish Holocaust Survivors are also onboard as they are aware of the severity.

    We must do this for the safety of our children. It’s our duty to keep FB clean. Cyber bullying is still going on. Amanda Todd took her life 10 months ago, yet these kids persist. Look forward to hearing from you.

    Now there is a possibility of another demonstration at the same time, but in NYC. Can keep you posted on that, but goal remains in California where I & friends will be.

    Michael Mendelson

    One of 4 blogs

    A link to “our” page

    You may be asking yourself, “it can’t be that bad. So here are just a few links to research. If the link is broken, you will know we had another success. The names alone should be a red flag


  • Jenny P

    I agree completely with Rabbi Abraham Cooper. Anti-Semitism remains rampant throughout Europe. These hateful entourages will only prove to bring more violence and misguided ideas about what Israel stands for. Shame on Roger Waters and I am disappointed in Stevie Wonder, too.
    I’m only one little (somewhat outspoken)Jewish lady, but for whatever it’s worth, I am boycotting Pink Floyd.

  • Alon

    “These are good people both and they deserve a just solution to their predicament.” Doesn’t sound like a hater to me, does he? He explained the pig quite well in his recent communiqué. This is just the SWC beating a dead-horse. BDS is a legitimate political stance that does not necessarily qualify one of a hater of Israel or of the Jewish people. The SWC and its ilk needs to stop the aggressive efforts to silence Israeli critics and continue to erase true Palestinian political voices from the discussion of Israel-Palestine’s future. I am Jewish and groups like SWC do not represent me at all, though I support their continued efforts to see Nazis prosecuted. On issues like this they are in over their heads and their ignorance shines through.

    • Norman

      I would suggest that you are over your head. Even Norman Finkelstein no lover of Israel has called BDS a cult aiming to destroy Israel. BDS in order to try to get its way uses shameless tactics by bullying and thuggery and plain lies – there is no apartheid in Israel. However witness the threats issued to Eric Burden formerly of the Animals to cancel his appearances in Israel and those now being directed at Tom Jones. There is nothing legitimate about BDS it is on a par with all the vicious attempts throughout the ages to delegitimize and attack Jews just for being Jews. All it is is a cloak for anti-Semites to hide behind when directing their hatred at Jews.

    • walt kovacs

      that you dont see the difference between demonization and criticism is sad

      just another “as a jew” loser

  • tom

    note to has-been musician seeking notoriety: israel is fully in compliance with international law, which prohibits the incitement to genocide and ethnic cleansing espoused by your ersatz “palestinians”, and the human rights which you do not have a clue about, which actually include the right of jews to live in peace, in their historical ancestral homeland, without the threat of arab terrorism.

    your malicious reference to apartheid is purest baloney, and only serves to highlight your willful ignorance: there are THREE arab parties with sitting members in the israeli knesset – how many minority parties are there in YOUR allegedly democratic country?!

    the fact that waters would deny these rights to only the jews is clear proof that his motive is nothing but jew-hatred. i do not believe in boycotts, but i also do not patronize bigots – there are plenty of talented musicians who do not spew venomous prejudice.

  • June Grant

    Can’t help wondering why such ‘luminaries’ as Roger Waters choose to take anti-Semitic rantings about Israel at face value. It is patently obvious there is no ‘apartheid’ here as Mr. Waters could discover if only he would visit the various malls and see the throngs of Arab families among the other visitors, or visit the hospitals around the country where all people, Arab, Jew, Christian and others are treated equally by doctors and nursing staff, not a few of whom are Arabs.
    As to the genocide accusation, as the populations of Gaza and the West Bank have grown and are growing in significant numbers, Israelis must be the most inefficient practitioners of genocide ever.

  • Sandy Brown

    I find it a great shame that he is so anti-Semetic. I have all the records from the 70s of Pink Floyd and they were a great band. They spoke for a generation basically. I saw them in Knebworth in the early 70s and they were amazing. For somebody who professes to be so intelligent, he should read some history books.

  • Fred

    His career is down the drain. A desperate move to gain publicity & notoriety. His diatribes anti Semitic & vain
    shows his pain while he slides down a sludge drain.
    What viciousness. What happened to correctness????

  • David

    I am not surprised at such anti-semitism disguised as anti-Zionism. Doesn’t this person know that England is increasingly coming under the sway of human rights loving Muslims who would think nothing of decapitating an infidel including Waters.

  • R


    There’s an old saying that”people wouldn’t know how stupid you are if you’d just keep your mouth shut.”

    And now folks, we know that Roger’s I.Q. is MINUS 125.

    Thanks, Rog, we always thought you wuz dumb, and now you’ve gone an’ proved it!

    Where will y’ be when word of your big mouth gets around? Guess we”ll find ya’ in th’ garbage can!! Jeez…I c’n smell ya’ awready!! PHEEWWWW!!!!!!!!

  • That moron is a sicko Jew hater. He should go to Syria Egypt Saudi Arabia or to any of the Arab countries from where the Jews were thrown out and they’re property was confiscated with they’re wealth.

  • i wonder if roger waters knows that in in south africa…if youre a white man, you have to give 51% of your company to a black man. There are certain requirements like being in business for a certain amount of time, and crossing a gross revenue threshhold…but at the end of the day, if youre white with a successful business you will be forced to give 51% of it up to a black man. You can go home to house your house in south africa, the one with bullet proof windows, and think about that… S Africa… a much better place now isnt roger?

  • Moshe

    I wonder if Waters even knows which continent he is talking about, let alone its history.

  • Otto Schiff

    It sounds as if Hitler is alive and well.

  • David Tepfer

    I am American and have been a huge fan of Pink Floyd for many years until now. I am shocked that Roger Waters is the anti-Semitic PIG that he is. Get a clue Roger. Your time has well past. Do you think that Israel wouldn’t love to have peace. We are to PRAY FOR PEACE IN ALL OF ISRAEL!!! God hears every word and knows every thought. He knows what is in every mans heart and will judge you for it so take care not to judge his elect for it will be your undoing!!! Look at how the Palestenians do their own people. They don’t care about anyboody. Billions of dollars are given to them yearly and instead of feeding their own people pr investing in infrastructure or business they buy WEAPONS so they can attack and kill women and children. Israel has no partner in peace.

  • daniel

    He sounds like he needs to grow up. Maybe he hasn’t had enough attention lately, what can I say?

  • Plain Talk

    All of this negativity stems from our policy of settlement expansion in the disputed territories and we continue to do it with complete disregard to its results.
    It would difficult, even for a moron like Waters, to start a campaign like this were it not for the continued settlement expansion policy.
    Many an artist listening to Water’s diatribe will remember that just last week Israel issued permits to hundreds of new projects and it will make them very sympathetic to Palestinians.
    Not a good thing at all.

    • walt kovacs

      they arent settlements, they are towns and neighborhoods and not a single new one has been created in 20 years

      all they are doing is building up

      that isnt expansion

      and why shouldnt jews be allowed to live wherever they want?

  • FlaGuy954

    Roger Waters is one more in a line of anti-Semitic hate mongers!

  • George Haas

    UK Boycott is problematic since UK will soon become another MUSLIMSTAN.

  • Steven

    Israeli Apartheid: The only system in the Middle East which is democratic and grants Arab citizens full equality under the law, including the right to become a Justice of the Supreme Court, an ambassador, a military officer or a Minister in the Cabinet., i.e. a form of “Racism.” Not to be confused with the widespread discrimination and exclusion of Palestinians on ethnic grounds in Lebanon, or Jews in every Muslim Arab country which is not “Apartheid.”