Recently Roger Waters wrote a letter protesting against being singled out for criticism by Gerald Ronson at a CST dinner.
“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.
“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.”
This is an absurd and insulting response to those who have censured his appallingly ill-judged remarks. These include many who are themselves critical of the policies of Israel’s current government.
In a more recent article, this time in Salon, Waters does at least acknowledge why people have accused him of antisemitism.
“When I remarked in a recent interview on historical parallels, stating that I would not have played Vichy France or Berlin in World War II, it was not my intention to compare the Israelis to Nazis or the Holocaust to the decades-long oppression of the Palestinians. There is no comparison to the Holocaust. Nor did I intend or ever wish to compare the suffering of Jews then with the suffering of Palestinians now. Comparing suffering is a painful, grotesque and diminishing exercise that dishonors the specific memory of all our fallen loved ones.”
It may not have been his intention to compare Israel to the Nazis – but the comparison was pretty obvious to most readers. Given that Waters does seem to concede that such a parallel would be grotesque, it is bizarre that he frames this article around the figure of his father, a man he never met, who died seventy years ago fighting Hitler. His mother also, he explains, dedicated her life to ensuring ‘that her children, and everyone else’s children, had no Sword of Damocles in the form of the despised Nazi Creed or any other despicable creed hanging over their heads.’(italics mine)
A few lines later Waters explains that his pro-Palestinian activism is driven by memories of his anti-fascist parents.
“And, at this point in my journey, I like to think that I pay tribute to both my parents each time I speak out in support of any beleaguered people denied the freedom and justice that I believe all of us deserve.”
For someone to claim that he wishes to distance himself from offensive parallels between Nazism and Zionism, he has an odd way of trying to reassure readers who ‘cruelly and wrongly’ have found his words antisemitic.