‘Antisemitic to Your Rotten Core’: Roger Waters Accused of Antisemitism by Former Pink Floyd Bandmate, Lyricist
by Shiryn Ghermezian
Musician Roger Waters is facing a barrage of criticism from his former bandmate and lyricist after comparing Israel to Nazi Germany in an interview with the German newspaper Berliner Zeitung last week.
“The Israelis are committing genocide,” the former Pink Floyd frontman told Berliner Zeitung, according to an English translation of the interview that Waters shared on his website. “Just like Great Britain did during our colonial period … We believed ourselves to be inherently superior to the indigenous people, just as the Israelis do in Palestine. Well, we weren’t and neither are the Israeli Jews.”
In response, Polly Samson, a lyricist for Pink Floyd and wife of band-member David Gilmour, wrote on Twitter: “You are antisemitic to your rotten core. Also a Putin apologist and a lying, thieving, hypocritical, tax-avoiding, lip-synching, misogynistic, sick-with-envy, megalomaniac. Enough of your nonsense.”
Samson wrote lyrics for Pink Floyd’s 1994 album The Division Bell. Gilmour, who has had a rift with Waters for decades, then re-shared Samson’s tweet and added that “every word [is] demonstrably true.”
Waters, 79, called the accusations “incendiary and wildly inaccurate” in a statement that he released on Twitter, adding that he denies the allegations “entirely.”
Waters — who is an avid support of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement — further claimed that Israel has a right to exist “as long as it is a true democracy, as long as no group, religious or ethnic, enjoys more human rights than any other. But unfortunately that is exactly what is happening in Israel and Palestine. The government says that only Jewish people should enjoy certain rights. So it can’t be described as democratic.”
He also said that accusing Israel of genocide and apartheid “accurately describe[s] the reality in the occupied territory. I see that more and more clearly since I’ve been part of the BDS movement.” He told Berliner Zeitung later in the interview that he denies being antisemitic but also talked about his efforts to convince others in the music industry not to perform in Israel in support of the BDS movement.
The musician has for years advocated for a boycott of Israel, including Israeli sporting teams and the country’s prestigious cultural awards.
During the interview, Waters also voiced his continued support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said he found it “really, really sad” that his former Pink Floyd bandmates released the benefit song Hey Hey Rise Up last year, featuring Ukrainian musician Andriy Khlyvnyuk, that helped raised funds for humanitarian aid given to those affected by the Russian-Ukraine war.
Waters will be performing in a number of German cities in May as part of his This is Not A Drill world tour. Several officials in Frankfurt are calling for his May 28 concert to be canceled because of his history of making antisemitic comments.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine last year, Waters referred to Israel as “a supremacist, settler colonialist project that operates a system of apartheid.” He has previously accused Jewish billionaire philanthropist Sheldon Adelson of being a “puppet master” controlling the US government and his past tours have featured a massive pig emblazoned with a Star of David. He also accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid” and “international crimes” in a November 2012 address at the United Nations. In 2021, he suggested in 2021 that it’s impossible to speak the “truth” about Israel because of Holocaust guilt.