‘An Antisemitic Arsonist’: Crowd in Munich Protests Roger Waters Concert
by Ben Cohen
Concert goers attending Sunday night’s performance in Munich by former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters were greeted by more than 100 demonstrators holding signs supporting Israel and opposing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine alongside a display of Israeli and Ukrainian flags.
“Our goal is to fly the flag – in the truest sense of the word,” Micky Wenngatz — a city councillor from the center-left SPD Party and a co-organizer of the protest — told local media outlets.
Waters is currently on a tour of five German cities amid a furor over his support for a comprehensive boycott of the State of Israel, as well as his use of antisemitic tropes in both his concerts and media appearances.
The main speaker at the protest outside Munich’s Olympiahalle was the head of the city’s Jewish community, Charlotte Knobloch, who pulled no punches regarding her anger at the concert going ahead.
“Agitation against Jews clearly has a place in this country,” she declared. “Today, this place is the Olympiahalle … Despite all the big words and good intentions, we stand here to protest against the appearance of an antisemitic arsonist.”
A number of Waters’ fans heckled Knobloch during her speech, with one man repeatedly chanting the name “Roger Waters.”
“Go inside and listen to him, if you love him so much,” Knobloch retorted.
“There has been a dispute about this concert since October 2022,” she went on to say. “Since then, motions and headlines have been produced – to no avail. So here we are, protesting a concert that’s happening exactly how Waters wanted it to happen, with his constant hatred, with his attacks on Israel and with his lies and distortions.”
The protest rally also heard from two Ukrainian Jewish refugees who fled the Russian onslaught on the city of Kharkiv for Germany last year. Waters has claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “fighting fascism” and last February delivered a rambling speech to the UN Security Council at the behest of the Russian mission to the UN, in which he claimed to be speaking on behalf of the world’s “voiceless majority” and denounced Ukraine’s elected leaders as “provocateurs.”
“We want to counter the lies with truth,” Yaroslav Mrzenov told the crowd, while his friend, Tamara Okhrimenko, warned that “these lies and this propaganda are killing people.”
In March, Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter called the prospect of Waters performing in the city “unspeakable” and “unbearable,” expressing the fear that “antisemitic slogans will be thrown around.” A privately-run venue, the Olympiahalle would have faced breach of contract proceedings had it canceled the concert.
Waters last played at the Olympiahalle in 2018. On that occasion, Reiter commented, “I don’t want him here, but we have to endure it for now.”