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August 23, 2013 6:57 am

An Open Letter to Roger Waters From the ADL: ‘Your Animosity Towards Israel is Colored by Anti-Semitism’

avatar by Abraham Foxman

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Roger Waters. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Dear Mr. Waters:

Your recent statements about Israel and advocacy for BDS have garnered significant condemnation, with some going as far as to label you an anti-Semite. This is not the first time you have encountered such allegations.

Over the past few years, you have incorporated Jewish imagery into your concert performances, painting a Star of David on your famous floating pig alongside other symbols, including a dollar sign and the sickle and hammer. You repeatedly rejected accusations of a malicious subtext to the use of the Star of David, assuring fans that you were in no way equating Jews with money or communism. We took you at your word, and defended your actions as artistic expression void of anti-Semitic intent.

In recent months, however, your relentless attacks against Israel and calls for a boycott of the Jewish State have caused us to reexamine your attitude towards Jews.

In your July 25th letter to your “Colleagues in Rock and Roll” you offered full-throated unambiguous support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, writing that their goal is “to bring international attention to these Israeli polices [of ‘occupation of the West Bank and violations of international law and Palestinian human rights’] and hopefully, to help bring them to an end,” and imploring other musicians to join you in refusing to perform in Israel.

Important details are omitted from your letter, which is a classic propaganda technique.  Why didn’t you point out that one of the stated objectives of the BDS movement, promoting a complete right of return for all Palestinians classified as refugees and the creation of a bi-national state, would result in the end of the Jewish character of the State of Israel and destroy Jewish national self-determination? Your writing also makes no mention of Palestinian terrorism, nor does it provide any context to the complex nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hamas, a terrorist organization which continues to advocate for Israel’s destruction, is entirely absent from your letter.

You accuse the Israeli government of committing ethnic cleansing by physically evicting non-Jewish families from East Jerusalem to make way for Jewish occupants, yet provide zero evidence for this frivolous claim. You argue that Israel is akin to Apartheid South Africa, despite the complete and equal rights enjoyed by Arab citizens of Israel.

Most disturbing of all is your decision to single out Israel for a boycott, while ignoring real human rights abusing countries around the world.

Where is your voice calling for a boycott of China for their persecution of Buddhists, or the persecution of Muslims by Buddhists in Myanmar? Why not Russia for its ongoing suppression of government opposition figures, and recent enactment of homophobic legislation? Not only have you never called for boycotts of those countries, you actually played concerts in both China and Russia during the past few years. You also seemed to have no qualms about preforming earlier this month in Istanbul, despite Turkey’s questionable human rights record in dealing with its Kurdish population, as well as the previous month’s brutal government crackdown on protesters at Taksim Park.

By the way, Freedom House’s country index ranks both China and Russia as “not free” and Turkey as “partly free.” Israel, by contrast, is ranked as “free.”

Your single-minded obsession with trying to convince others to boycott the Jewish state, while ignoring the world’s true human rights violators, must be driven by something other than a guilty conscience. Taking all this into account, one must conclude that your views on Israel are in fact colored by offensive and dangerous undercurrents of anti-Jewish sentiment.

If you were truly interested in leading an honest human rights campaign, you could start by speaking out against policies of the above-mentioned countries, as well as many others that commit actual crimes against their citizens. And if you wanted to sincerely address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, you could express your support for a two-state solution, and encourage your fellow musicians to embrace the notion of Israel living in peace and security with a Palestinian state.  How about encouraging your fellow musicians to perform in both Tel Aviv and Ramallah, a gesture that would demonstrate the unifying force of music?

Mr. Waters, having many Jewish friends and relatives does not give legitimacy to your hostile campaign against the Jewish State, and while painting a Star of David on your pig may have been free of anti-Semitic intent, your strong animosity towards Israel is indeed riddled with it.

I hope you can recognize the flawed nature of your anti-Israel campaign, and use your artistic voice to more positively and constructively promote peace and tolerance across the Middle East and around the world.

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  • Richard Goffin-Lecar

    Unfortunately, some people with undesirable and inaccurate views become successful in the media, and as such, have the opportunity to use their position to preach their beliefs. Mel Gibson’s lunatic, anti-Semitic rant a few years ago was a classic example of this. Roger Waters appears to be another case of the unpleasant in a position of power. He, and all the rest of his ilk, are wrong about Israel, and indeed, wrong about Jews in general. Let’s hope that they eventually find this out, and realise their error. Shalom!

  • Rick

    No, just no.

    Terrible article.

    Ok, firstly, Roger Waters is plain wrong about Israel, however criticism of a nation is NOT racial or religious criticism and I find it revolting that you equate the them as such.

    “calls for a boycott of the Jewish State have caused us to reexamine your attitude towards Jews.”
    Is a disgusting comment, an attitude worthy of histories worst dictators.

    • Vered

      Rick you are an ass hole .

  • Arie

    Reality is that the ADL, with its on-going hiding of AntiJew attacks in the US, condemning all Jews who stand against jihad as “islamophobes” and “racists,” and silently standing by Obama’s side as he denigrates everything about Judaism, Jews, and the Jewish State, one wonder what difference there is between Foxman and Waters, other than Foxman has declared himself a “Jewish leader” (I don’t ever remember there being a vote on that) collecting a very fat paycheck from Jews too gullible to know better, and acting as Obama’s apologist in the community

    • Vered

      Love your answere

  • A Real American

    I am not the first to say it, but it bears repeating…


  • Dorit

    So You Want to Boycott Israel?

  • Steve Wenick

    It’s Like Talking To A Wall.

  • Robbie Goldstein

    Great letter. I hope it was sent directly to him and to the U.K media, and not just to the Jewish media.

  • fan of pink floyd

    Roger you probably will never see this comment but im proud of you and im the least racist person I know. Also much great music. Animals echoes dark side the wall and so on. There is much oppression in the world today. And to the jews you are loved just like the others but all are judged by their actions as is the current state of israel and other countries.

  • GB

    David Gilmour was right about R Waters. That is why he is banned from being in Pink Floyd. I will listen to all of the albums that do not include R Waters. Your points are valid and logical. R Waters we are waiting on your reply….

  • Harvey

    Rogers also took issue with the BBC editing Nigel kennedys
    Disgraceful propaganda speech at the Proms concert .
    Waters referred to a letter sent to the BBC by Baroness Deech
    However Waters includes in parenthesis Her maiden name Fraenkel
    Here is new age antisemitism at work . A snide nudge and a wink to his BDS acolytes that Deech is a jewess , Fraenkel being a fairly common Jewish name .
    At the same time he is signalling the ‘Jews controlling the media trope
    The man is an antisemite . No ifs and buts

  • Asher Eliezer

    Just for the heck of it, I googled Pink Floyd South Africa, Pink Floyd South Africa boycott and Roger Waters South Africa boycott to find out what sorts of boycott activities they supported in connection with apartheid South Africa. While I discovered that South Africa banned “The Wall”, I did not find a single instance of BDS activities by Pink Floyd or Roger Waters directed at the White Supremacist regime. Hmmm . . . .

  • Victor Redlick

    It’s oh so prophetic that Pink Floyd named their signature album ‘ The Wall ‘ and this successfully musical, but proudly racist Hall of Fame shmuck hit it!

  • magog1975

    I really can’t believe some of the crud I’m reading about RW at the moment. To suggest the man is anti-semitic is a load of old rubbish. He’s been floating a pig around for years with symbols on its backside and it’s taken some of you this long to work out it might be anti-semitic The Wall was released in 1979 and I don’t recall Mr Foxman complaining at the time, because there is nothing to complain about. As for that bloody model, she was delighted to see her pic at a RW show (free publicity) when she went to one of his concerts a few years back, talk about double standards!! Isn’t she the one who got married then divorced a family member so she could avoid conscription, what a patriotic girl!!

  • Chaim

    Good letter but should have mentioned that Abbas has stated that Palestine will be 100% Judenrein. How hypocritical of Waters to not object to that, which really is Apartheid.

  • gord

    a great letter; sadly too many see waters as an expert on everything because of his star status.

  • Tzemach Bloomberg

    Mr. Waters has utilised the old saying: “why let the facts get in the way of a good story”?
    Obviously, he is completely ignorant of the facts of the Arab Israeli conflict, something which shows that he is using this as an excuse for rabid anti-Semitism.
    If somebody of the standing of a past President of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, disagrees with Mr. Waters’ statements, I choose to believe those of Justice Stephen Schwebel.
    If Mr. Waters was adamant that he is not anti-Semitic, he will read the following article, but I for one am not holding my breath.
    Yours Sincerely,
    Tzemach Bloomberg,
    3 Simtat Ha’alon,
    Hod Hashaon,
    Tel: +972-52-3859455

  • Abe Foxman is far too tepid in his letter to Waters. Waters should be harshly criticized and condemned – not “believed” or “excused.”

    This timid letter reflects ADL distancing itself from being a “Jewish Defense Organization” to becoming an “everybody’s rights” proponent. That is NOT their mission.

    In this week’s Philadelphia “Jewish Exponent” Foxman’s Op-Ed was devoted to” Taking Russia to Task on Gay Rights.” Foxman/ADL now denies Israel full and vocal support. Now it uses its voice to promote other causes such as the mosque at Ground Zero.

    Waters is a bigot and a Jew-hater. Any letter to him should say so, and state that Jewish organizations will publicly call for a boycott of Waters and his sponsors /advertisers.

    Let him feel the sting- instead of groveling at his feet.

  • FlaGuy954

    Well put!

  • Shalom Freedman

    The obsession with Israel is clearly proof of Anti-Semitism.
    As the letter points out if he cared about Human Rights Violations he would be acting against Israel’s enemies,including Hamas rather than against Israel.

  • J. Ackereizen

    Mr. Waters could care less about the views of his fans or critics. It is his ego does not allow other peoples differing opinions to influence his ideals.
    His actions and words throughout his career have allowed him to grow rich and famous from such against the grain attitude. Why should he change? His business any publicity is good publicity. The throngs of fans he has are deaf to anything that would be critical. As I admire his musical talents.. I would sooner buy a soldier and his family dinner than his concert ticket or newest release.
    Enter a hospice Roger.

  • Jack Urowitz

    Roger – I loved your work, music and social criticism – you spoke for me about many social ills and I proselytized for your vision in personal and professional settings. I have seen dozens of your performances with Floyd and your solo tours – I waited breathlessly for next album. And now you have taught me the most mind numbing lesson of my life – great art – great social commentary in some contexts does not preclude blind prejudice in others. And great artists are not necessarily humanitarians. Even with your prejudice Roger, you’ve taught me a great lesson, not by what you implied but in how I infer your prejudicial screed. The only reason I can conclude from your singling out Israel from amongst the nations in turmoil, of your narrow and obtuse definition of Apartheid, and your vitriolic condemnation rather than constructive remedies for both sides of this conflict – is that you have a singular prejudice against the aspiration of the Jewish people to survive.

  • Harold

    What fools who listen to the canards of a has been Rocker. I bet some of his best friends are Jews when to par phase a proper musician, the late,great Ronnie Scott,Some of my best friends are the Blues.

  • montlasky

    Roger the Lodger, why don’t you try and kiss your ass and keep doing it because this is the only way to make you keep your anti Semitic views to yourself-permanently!

  • rm

    Model Bar Refaeli Demands Roger Waters Stop Using Her Photo In Concerts
    But he has the chuzpah to use this Israeli model to promote his shity concerts


    Shared from Trending on Flipboard. Download Flipboard for free here .

  • Alon

    He is too opinionated to deserve consideration and his followers are too stupefied to understand what he is doing, each of them is another brick in his wall….

  • Sandy Brown

    Yes, Waters basically needs to keep his mouth shut. He has no clue about any of this. And he needs to read some history books about the region. This land has been home to Romans, Jews, and Arabs et al for thousands of years. So stop harping on about it only being Palestinian land. Get your facts right, Mr Waters before you open your stupid mouth again. You are a Numpty.

  • Mike Levy

    I agree with everything written except the 2 state solution as, nobody in their right mind would agree that the Palestinians want anything other than a one state solution and that is, that the whole of Israel becomes Palestine and then, the wholesale murder of every Jew in what would be an apartheid state.

  • thank bkovode to abraham foxman, a man of dignity and respectful ways of communicating and also he who has a better ear for listening and comprehending messages than most in the world today. “notably better than that mr. warters who has lost another fan due to his saber rattling ways. we will not mss waters at all. all his true fans see hear through him like he is not there anymore. thank yu again rabbi.
    d el b

  • david freilich

    This was too polite a rebuke……..

  • Judah Soledad

    Very eloquent & well-reasoned (not to mention “written”) letter. Sadly, those infused with irrational bias will likely be deaf & blind to the spirit of truth & conscience that undergirds our wizened hope.

  • Herb silver

    Both are full of it never 2 states

  • Josh Brewster

    Finally someone has the guts to take on this miserable anti-Semite, Roger Waters.

  • Avrumeleh

    It’s important that commentaries on Roger Waters be published whether in the form of newspaper articles or open letters. But, the utility of them is questionable at best. I am, by now convinced that it’s really futile to imagine that they can have any result approximating influencing him in the direction of sanity. Roger Waters has an obsession with his opposition to Israel. Objectively, even giving room to the refrain that “we aren’t anti-Semites just because we criticize Israel,” is, in his case, his problem is pathological. It no longer has any of the trappings of rationality or consience because he is simply impervious to reason. His mind is closed. He doesn’t have any interest in opening it. The remark to he made in his own defense to the effect that he has “a lot of Jewish friends,” in his own defense is so trite that it is almost funny and he doesn’t even get the joke. Good gosh, how does a mind get so distorted and atrophied? I’d suggest that this isn’t a political or social problem at all, but rather, it’s a psychiatric one.

  • schm0e

    I like Pink Floyd alot, and RW was 1/4 of that. Like most highly visible artists, however, he seems unable to distinguish between a clever PR move and a truly moral cause. It’s a pity.

    I think the open letter is excellent, stating a clear and reasonable refutation of the soundbyte campaign launched by Waters. But the “homophobic legislation” bit unforunately springs from the very same logical error that Waters’ “boycott” idea does — ignorance of facts, in this case, about homosexuality.

    Israel, situated as it is in the bosom of Sodom and Gomorrah, should know this better than any people.

  • Steve Klein

    Abraham Foxman implores Mr. Waters that his prescription for Israel “would result in the end of the Jewish character of the State of Israel and destroy Jewish national self-determination.” This in fact is the goal of the Palestinian Arabs with few exceptions. That is why a two state solution whereby a Palestinian state and a Jewish state exist side by side in peace and security is a chimera; an illusion that can never be realized. I suspect Mr. Waters knows it.

  • yussi

    Just one more hate filled antisemite..Our fault for giving him the “benefit of the doubt” on his jewish star pig. We must be more vigilent and militant in calling out these haters from the get go…

  • Foxman’s letter was not well written.

    It contains distractions. Example: citing injustices in other countries. We do not need to rely on that type of relativism to make our case.

    Second, the letter, amazingly, omits the vital historical fact that the Jews were there since Moses. It is not the land of the Arabs (Palestinians).

    Third, when Israel did give up substantial land for hoped for peace, i.e. Gaza Strip, it got instead constant rocket attacks. The Arabs had a chance to turn Gaza into the Singapore of the Middle East but passed up the opportunity. They would rather fire rockets.

    Fourth, the PLO and Hamas have in their charters the destruction of Israel. They have yet to demonstrate that they wish to live side by side in peace. If they did, the Israelis would jump at that offer.

    Foxman is getting paid a half million dollars a year. The least that we can expect is a well written rebuttal. Foxman is too busy genuflecting in front of Obama.

  • Mary Hughes Thompson

    Bravo, Roger Waters, for refusing to be silenced, as so many other artists have been silenced, by the zionist lobby. BDS is growing, as it did in South Africa. Apartheid in Israel is far more insidious and rampant than it ever was in South Africa, and it must end.

    • Lynne T

      Waters and his fellow BDSers are only too happy to deny freedom of speech to those who disagree with the boycott so please don’t trumpet his strident “anti-Zionism” as a free speech issue. There’s nothing that upsets you ignorant Arab apartheid supporting fanatics more than the likes of Ismail Khaldi or Khaled Abu Toahmeh setting the record straight.

      Describing Israel’s conduct as more “incidious” than South Africa is really too clever for words. It ain’t apartheid, honey, despite the large number of South African celebs like Des Tutu who claim it is, without qualifying how it is. Tutu et al are just bitter that Israel didn’t boycott S.A. during the apartheid years, but then neither did the Arab states who sold oil to S.A.

    • A Real American

      Mary Hughes Thompson–

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

      Apparently the meds Mary Hughes Thompson are taking are not strong enough—the delusions are returning. Time to up her meds.

    • Frank C.

      Mary, you are parroting traditional leftist anti-Semitic canards. Karl Marx wrote “On Judaism,” the first anti-Semitic work written by the Left.

      Mary, the Left ironically relies upon classical anti-Semitic imagery of Jews and money (the ‘Judas’ character in the New Testament, Marx’s ‘On Judaism’), of Jews pulling marionette strings (‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’) as its Goebbels-style propaganda.

      The fact is that, in the media and on campus and at the UN, it is only pro-Israel voices that are muzzled. Anti-Israel voices are widespread, fulminating, not subject to reason, not interested in facts, truth, justice, right or wrong.

      The Left uses the idea of muzzling as a dog whistle to the anti-Semitic imagery of imagined Jewish power. Walt and Mearshimer relish in the idea that people are trying to silence them.

      The idea of ‘muzzling’ is useful to the Left for another reason, aside from being a dog whistle to traditional progressive anti-Semites (who require the imagery of money-hungry and powerful Jews to rile up the masses in attacking capitalism, since their economic arguments don’t quite cut the mustard).

      The idea of ‘muzzling’ allows Leftist and progressives to avoid debate. Debate is problematic for Leftists and progressives for two reasons: (1) the facts do not favor their arguments; and (2) Leftists and progressives do not want to learn anything that is not printed in their Leftist Bibile and engaging in a debate would dangerously expose them other facts and opinions, which they do not want to see daylight, or to cause them cognitive dissonance.

      In South Africa, blacks could not get white jobs, go to white schools or clubs or restaurants or sporting events, could not vote or serve in parliament, or be in certain areas after hours. That is apartheid. In Israel, Arabs can get any job, go to any university, go to any restaurant or sporting event, can vote and serve in parliament, can serve in the military (but are not forced to do so), and can go to (or live in) any neighborhood at any hour. That is not apartheid.

      Jews cannot live safely in any of 20+ Arab countries, except for possibly the Emirates and Bahrain and Morocco. That is apartheid. The Palestinian Authority has announced that no Jews can live in Judea or Samaria. Hamas has announced that no Jews can live. That is apartheid, and worse, respectively.

      Don’t let the facts confuse you, Mary.

  • karen yochim

    Always have loved Pink Floyd’s music, but will have a hard time listening to it after Waters’ creepy & anti-Israel remarks.

  • Ooohhh SNAP! How about waters just goes away. We’ve all heard The Wall for 30+ years now. It’s enough. You’re a has been who tricked us into thinking you were the soul behind Floyd. History proves otherwise. History seems to always prove you otherwise. Good bye cruel world, it’s over now. Goodbye..goodbye…goodbye….

  • RJ

    Excellent reply. Let’s distribute it widely.

  • Jeremy

    I am deeply dissapointed in Roger Waters. “The Wall” was a hige influence on me from the time it came out in 1979 when I was 9 years old. I struggled to understand the neo-Nazi themes that are embodied in the cncept album and had concluded that it was in fact a statement against anti-semetism. I have continued to support Roger and went to both recent tours of “The Wall”. With his recent anti-Isreal movement, I must now re-evaluate my position on Roger and question whether or not he actually is anti-semetic. Its hard to hear ignorant and propoganda based accusations coming from an artist I had always respected. A guy who dresses up in a Nazi uniform every night as part of his show has no business making anti-Isreali statements. Shame on Roger as well as the other Europeans who seem blind to the reality of Palestinean Terrorism, Hamas, and the tehri true intent to kill every Jew in Isreal. I think it is time to boycott Mr. Waters. No more buying expensive tickets to his shows and despuite the fact that I never steal downloaded MP3s, in his case if there are any Roger Waters albums that I feel need to be added to my collection, I will make the exception and steal the music. I will not be buying any Roger Waters Merchandise in the near future either. I don’t want to make him Richer and give him more power. Its time to BOYCOTT ROGER WATERS ! The ADL letter holds strong and true.

  • Claudia

    A very good letter !

  • Here is my response to Roger Waters’ “Open Letter”.

    From the time I was a teenager I enjoyed the music of Pink Floyd. Sadly, the devious and disingenuous behavior of Rogers Waters has so disgusted me that the very sound of the music has been tarnished. I am a Jewish man and the son of Holocaust survivors yet I will first make a point not connected to my personal background. To call Israel an Apartheid state is an insult to every person of color who suffered under the Apartheid regime in South Africa. The South Africans who were victimized…

  • G. Fränkl

    Roger waters is nothing less or more than a pitiful declassed white English neo-Nazi. That’s all, that’s it.

    • Ana Freiberg

      Agree .He, Mr Waters is the Pig.

    • Efram Paul

      Here here!

    • Thomas Smith

      Roger Waters is a great man and a great musician. This is the same tired old line from the Zionists that if you criticize them, you’re an anti-Semite: a “neo-Nazi” (get REAL, G. Frankl, and cut me a break!). The Zionist state is the most anti-Semitic regime today. Arabs are Semites, too. Get it? Bourgeois nationalism works by divide and conquer. No single people has a right to occupy an entire country where other peoples are present. Share the land, share the wealth: one socialist state solution, multitheistic, multiethnic, multiracial. .Just like we want in the U.S.

    • Geoffrey

      Covert anti-semitism has always existed in the UK, but now it is overt and supposedly “respectable”, especially among pop-stars and similar minor celebrities. Why do these uninformed individuals believe that they know better than people who are highly knowledgeable about the absence of human rights, especially in countries they do not condemn. such as Islamic ones and in which they are happy to perform, for enormous fees, naturally.

    • iche

      I must admit that this is the first time i hear about this “artist”
      May be he needs such extravagance to get known on the account of jews…. thus painting david stars etc..
      I know by the way another “artist” who started his career in painting postcards