Having previously defended Roger Waters from accusations of anti-Semitism, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Thursday reluctantly acknowledged that “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories” have “seeped into the totality” of the former Pink Floyd frontman’s views.
The ADL was responding to comments Water made in an interview Saturday with Counterpunch magazine comparing Israeli treatment of the Palestinians to Nazi Germany.
“Judging by his remarks, Roger Waters has absorbed classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and these have now seeped into the totality of his views,” Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the ADL), told The Times of Israel. “His comments about Jews and Israel have gotten progressively worse over time. It started with anti-Israel invective, and has now morphed into conspiratorial anti-Semitism.”
Added Foxman: “How sad that a creative genius could become so perverted by his own narrow-minded bigotry.”
In the interview, Waters — a longtime supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement — remarked, regarding the Palestinians, that the “parallels with what went on in the ’30s in Germany are so crushingly obvious.
“There were many people that pretended that the oppression of the Jews was not going on. From 1933 until 1946,” Waters said. “So this is not a new scenario. Except that this time it’s the Palestinian people being murdered.”
Waters, an outspoken critic of Israel who urges fellow artists not to play concerts in Israel, came under fire in July for using a pig-shaped balloon with Jewish symbols, including a Star of David, at his concerts.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced the balloon as a “grotesque display of Jew-hatred” and called Waters an “open hater of Jews.”
An op-ed in the Vatican newspaper at the time blasted “unrestrained anti-Semitism” at the music festival in Belgium where Waters displayed the inflatable balloon. “… Did they also have the right to draw the Star of David on the back of a pig and not be reported?” the article asked. “We continue to talk about the respect for every religion and every human being, yet we keep falling into these shameful situations.”
However, the Anti-Defamation League said then that Waters has a long history of using these symbols in his concerts. “While we wish that Mr. Waters would have avoided using the Star of David, we believe there is no anti-Semitic intent here,” an ADL spokesman said.
In comments to AP late last month, Foxman had defended Waters against accusations of anti-Semitism. “His shows deliver messages, breaking down wall, etc. He uses symbolism, and that’s one issue,” Foxman said. “It’s artistic exuberance and crossing the lines of whatever, but he’s not an anti-Semite.”
Speaking to CounterPunch, Waters also slammed US policies toward the Palestinians, and attributed them to the “Israeli propaganda machine,” whose messages effectively trickled into the mainstream media. In a call to the public to join the BDS movement, Waters explained that the main deterrence for many Americans interested in the movement is the backlash anticipated from Jews in the United States.
“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,” Waters stated.
Last August, Waters issued a public letter to musicians to boycott Israel. A few months earlier, in an interview with The Huffington Post, Waters remarked that the US has a “knee-jerk” policy to support “anything” that Israel does.
JTA contributed to this report.