In the past Roger Waters has reacted with indignation to accusations of antisemitism.
Waters has spoken against Israeli policies and accused the ADL of painting critics as anti-Semitic.
“It’s a screen that they hide behind. I don’t think they should be taken seriously on that. You can attack Israeli policy without being anti-Jewish,” he said.
“It’s like saying if you criticise the US policy you are being anti-Christian. I’m critical of the Israeli policy of occupying Palestinian land and their policy of building settlements, which is entirely illegal under international law, and also of ghettoising the people whose land they are building on.
It is indeed perfectly possible to attack Israeli policy without being anti-Jewish. However in a recent interview with Counterpunch Waters, as well as offering a rather selective and tendentious analysis of the current situation in Israel, deploys arguments and parallels which go well beyond just being ‘critical of Israeli policy’.
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. From 1933 until 1946. So this is not a new scenario. Except that this time it’s the Palestinian People being murdered. It’s the duty of every thinking human being to ask: “What can I do?”.
Although the comparisons between Israel and Apartheid South Africa have rightly been criticised, there are certainly some similarities between the two boycott campaigns. But rather than using what one might have thought the most intuitive parallel for a BDS advocate, Waters feels compelled to turn to Nazi Germany in order to make a grotesque parallel between the situation of the Palestinians today and the Holocaust.
Later Waters explains why he thinks more people in the music industry don’t share his wish to boycott Israel:
This has been a very hard sell particularly where I live in the United States of America. The Jewish lobby is extraordinary powerful here and particularly in the industry that I work in, the music industry and in rock’n roll as they say. I promise you, naming no names, I’ve spoken to people who are terrified that if they stand shoulder to shoulder with me they are going to get fucked.
This doesn’t really require further comment – but here is a reminder that failing to heed the pressure to boycott can also seem like a difficult, even dangerous, step for artists and musicians.