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March 12, 2014 9:03 pm

Pink Floyd Co-Founder Roger Waters: I Can’t Be an Anti-Semite, My Father Fought Nazis


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Roger Waters. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In a strongly-worded open letter published Tuesday by The Telegraph, Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters once again denied being an anti-Semite, this time invoking his Nazi-fighting father.

The communique was addressed to British philanthropist Gerald Ronson, chairman of the Jewish Community Security Trust charity, in response to a speech Ronson gave last week in which he singled out Waters as being anti-Israel.

At a London dinner held by the charity, Ronson alluded to the controversial inflatable pig, emblazoned with a Star of David, that Waters floated during recent concerts. In a video from one of the concerts, the pig’s hind quarters also appear to feature a silhouette of a man giving a Nazi salute.

“He insists that he is only anti-Israel, and he isn’t, of course, anti-Semitic,” Ronson said to the audience, among which were politicians Ed Miliband, Dominic Grieve and Ed Balls, and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

Waters, who has long been an advocate of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and has called on his fellow artists to boycott the Jewish state, did not take kindly to Ronson’s comments.

“On a personal note, Mr Ronson,” he wrote, “my father, the son of a coal miner from County Durham, pulled himself up by his bootstraps, eventually got a degree from Durham University, went off and taught divinity, history, and English in Jerusalem between 1935 and 1938, and subsequently died in Italy on February 18, 1944 fighting the Nazi menace.”

“Do not dare to presume to preach to me, my father’s son, about anti-Semitism or human rights,” he added.

The former Pink Floyd bassist claimed that he is supportive of “the Palestinian people’s struggle for basic human rights” but, “It is not, however, true that I am an anti-Semite or that I am against the Israeli people.”

“Because I am a critic of this Israeli government’s policies and in the absence of this Israeli government producing cogent arguments to defend themselves from my criticism, I am instead routinely subjected to the accusation that I am an anti-Semite,” he said.

“This is a pattern, a crude pattern, but nevertheless an identifiable and repeated pattern, a part of the general tactic of ‘Hasbara’, (‘Explaining’ or ‘Propaganda’ to those of you with no Hebrew). The escalation of this aggressive ‘Hasbara’ may well be a reaction to the fact that BDS is gaining ground, day by day and year by year, all over the world,” Waters wrote. He also told Ronson that Israel is “abusing” the term ‘anti-Semitism’  to “intimidate people, like me, into silence simply because we seek a better and equal future for Palestinians and Jews alike.”

The recent letter is not the first time Waters has responded to allegations of anti-Semitism. Two of the world’s most prominent Jewish human rights groups have called him to task on the issue.

Last July, Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center called Waters an “open hater of Jews” in an interview with The Algemeiner. Later, after the musician compared Israeli policy to that of the Nazis in a magazine interview, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said his comments about Israel over time have “morphed into conspiratorial anti-Semitism.”

“How sad that a creative genius could become so perverted by his own narrow-minded bigotry,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman told The Algemeiner at the time.

In an open letter published last year, Waters said he was extremely insulted that he was accused of being “‘Anti Semitic,’ ‘A Jew Hater’ and ‘Nazi Sympathizer.'” He contended 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.”

Others who have charged Waters with anti-Semitism include Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who, writing for the New York Observer, said that the Pink Floyd band member’s likening of “Jews to Nazi collaborators” and comparing of “Israel to the Nazis themselves” amounts to “loathsome, stomach-turning anti-Semitism.”

At the time of publication, Ronson had not responded to Waters’ letter.

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