Roger Waters, former frontman of legendary prog-rock outfit Pink Floyd, has once again sparked controversy in the Jewish community for recent comments made to the leftist CounterPunch magazine, in which the pro-Palestine artist compared the Israeli government to Nazi Germany.
When asked about his support of a cultural boycott of Israel, Waters labeled the situation and what he called “the systematic racist apartheid Israeli regime” as “unacceptable,” before comparing Israel’s government to the Vichy Nazi collaborators and then the Nazis themselves, saying:
“I would not have played for the Vichy government in occupied France in the Second World War, I would not have played in Berlin either during this time. Many people did, back in the day. There were many people that pretended that the oppression of the Jews was not going on.”
It’s comments such as these, which Waters made in the online interview, that have raised the ire of several Jewish public figures, including well-known Jewish thinker Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who described Waters’ comments in a piece for the New York Observer as an “anti-Semitic diatribe.”
“Mr Waters, the Nazis were a genocidal regime that murdered six million Jews,” writes Rabbi Boteach. “That you would have the audacity to compare Jews to monsters who murdered them shows you have no decency, you have no heart, you have no soul.”
In the interview, Waters also criticised the Israeli “propaganda machine,” saying that the “Jewish lobby” is “extraordinarily powerful” and uses scare tactics to silence artists and musicians, also admonishing the “sub-human” treatment of Arabs and Palestinians by the “bizarre” Israeli rabbinate.
As The Guardian reports, Waters has responded to these comments by saying, “I have nothing against Jews or Israelis, and I am not antisemitic. I deplore the policies of the Israeli government in the occupied territories and Gaza. They are immoral, inhuman and illegal.”
“It is difficult to make arguments to defend the Israeli government’s policies,” Waters continues, “so would-be defenders often use a diversionary tactic, they routinely drag the critic into a public arena and accuse them of being an antisemite.”
“The Holocaust was brutal and disgusting beyond our imagination. We must never forget it… We must never stand by silent and indifferent to the sufferings of others, whatever their race, colour, ethnic background or religion. All human beings deserve the right to live equally under the law.”
Waters was the subject of criticism earlier this year, when he used a pig-shaped balloon covered in Jewish symbols, including the ubiquitous Star of David, as part of the stage effects in his The Wall tour. Waters insisted that it was one of several religious symbols used in the show.
(Via The Guardian)