German broadcasters drop Roger Waters concerts over anti-Semitism accusations

Five national radio and television stations refuse to broadcast shows by singer who calls for boycotting Israel

Musician Roger Waters performs during his 'Us + Them' tour at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, on June 20, 2017. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP)
Musician Roger Waters performs during his 'Us + Them' tour at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, on June 20, 2017. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP)

Five state television and radio stations will not broadcast Roger Water’s upcoming concerts in Germany due to accusations of anti-Semitism against the rock singer, who is vocal supporter of boycotts against Israel.

The German stations, all affiliates of the national ARD network will not broadcast Waters’s concerts in Berlin and Cologne, scheduled for the summer of 2018, according to a Reuters report on Tuesday.

Bassist and vocalist Waters, an outspoken critic of Israel, is known for publicly harassing artists scheduled to visit Israel or perform there.

Roger Waters. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)

Berlin and Brandenburg public radio (RBB), part of the ARD network, said in a statement they were giving Waters the cold shoulder “in reaction to anti-Semitism accusations against him.”

“Taking a clear position here is an important signal for RBB to the Jewish communities in Berlin and Brandenburg,” said RBB director Patricia Schlesinger.

Water’s tour director, Marek Lieberg, called the pullout “absolutely ridiculous.”

Speaking to the Mannheimer Morgen daily, Lieberg said while he doesn’t support the BDS movement he also won’t let his views interfere with his work, Reuters reported. “I cannot and do not want to deny [Waters] his right to freedom of opinion,” he said.

Lieberg, who is the son of Holocaust survivors, conceded that German Jews had reason to be concerned about “clearly visible and growing anti-Semitism in Germany.”

Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, welcomed the decision, telling Reuters that “the quick and decisive reaction by the broadcasters… is an important signal that rampant anti-Semitism against Israel has no place in Germany.”

Josef Schuster, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, attends a press conference following his election in Frankfurt am Main, central Germany, on November 30, 2014. (AFP/Daniel Roland)

On Sunday ARD’s public broadcaster Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) withdrew its sponsorship for one of the Waters’s concerts after activists lobbied to have the show canceled due to the former Pink Floyd front man’s anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views, according to reports in German media.

WDR pulled its support for the show in Cologne scheduled for June 11, 2018, after a local resident launched a petition urging the broadcaster “not to grant support with public money for the anti-Semite Roger Waters.”

In 2013, the Anti-Defamation League, having previously defended Waters against charges of anti-Semitism, acknowledged that “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories” have “seeped into the totality” of the performer’s views.

Israel has been faced with boycott calls for decades, but the movement known as BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) has raised its profile in recent years with help from famous backers, Waters prominent among them.

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