Protesters who waved Israeli flags at a Roger Waters concert in London were kicked out of the venue in two separate incidents, while those waving Palestinian flags were reportedly not bothered by security at the performance Wednesday.
Footage showed Yochy Davis, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, and three other activists approaching an area close to the stage with flags while the Pink Floyd frontman donned a leather outfit and red armband — meant to resemble a Nazi or Waffen-SS uniform — at the O2 Arena.
The outfit drew controversy during recent appearances in Germany, where displaying Nazi imagery is illegal, and sparked allegations it was connected to his record of making statements and gestures deemed antisemitic.
One flag reading “Hey Roger, leave us Jews alone,” was ripped from activists by security guards, while another was held right up at Waters, the Jewish Chronicle reported.
Davis told the newspaper that another activist planned to run onto the stage but was halted by security.
“We feel that obviously [Waters] dresses like a Nazi. We heard he [dressed in an SS-style costume] in Berlin or in Frankfurt and we heard he did it the day before,” Davis said. She claimed that guards who took her away held onto her “very tightly” and were “hurting her.”
My friend Yochy Davis (https://t.co/vcV2h0Qldv), who is a right wing activist leader in the UK, went into the recent Roger Waters concert and pulled out an Israeli flag. They were then kicked out by security for this. pic.twitter.com/C0vd0Gj4VO
— Document Israel (@DocumentIsrael) June 8, 2023
Upon leaving the arena floor, most of the security guards that then escorted her were “great, very sympathetic” after she explained she was the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and her offense at the performance.
People at the concert told Israel’s Channel 12 news some concertgoers unfurled Palestinian flags at the same time and were not bothered by security.
In a separate incident during the performance, Israeli filmmaker Emilio Schenker also unfurled a flag close to the stage. Footage showed security approaching Schenker and taking the flag, and then escorting him from the venue.
Protesters holding Israeli flags have also been demonstrating outside venues that hosted Waters, including the O2 arena.
A spokesperson for the venue told the Jewish Chronicle it permitted protests outside of the arena but forbade demonstrations inside the venue “on the basis that it would disrupt the performance and affect the safety and enjoyment of our guests.”
“As part of our standard terms and conditions of entry (as stated on our website here), The O2 reserves the right to prohibit the use of flags within the venue.”
במאי הקולנוע הישראלי גלעד אמיליו שנקר גורש בכח מהופעה של רוג'ר ווטרס משום שהניף דגל ישראל! (האולם היה מלא בדגלי אש"פ) pic.twitter.com/L5QTF8prjt
— ינון מגל (@YinonMagal) June 9, 2023
Last week, Waters dropped the fascist act, which has long been a feature of the former Pink Floyd bassist’s shows, from a show in Birmingham. The change followed a controversy around the costume’s appearance in shows in Germany, where displaying Nazi imagery is illegal.
Following complaints, police in Germany said they were investigating whether Waters had broken the law.
“The elements of my performance that have been questioned are quite clearly a statement in opposition to fascism, injustice, and bigotry in all its forms,” Waters wrote in a statement about the uproar. “The depiction of an unhinged fascist demagogue has been a feature of my shows since Pink Floyd’s The Wall in 1980.”
Michael Gove, a UK government secretary of state, said in a statement that Waters was “falling short” of meeting an expectation that people with a significant public profile “behave responsibly and not abuse their platform.”
UK Labour leader Keir Starmer said the opposition party “stands with the Jewish community and fully condemns Roger Waters.”
“Many people will think of Roger Waters as famous for being a member of one of the most important bands in history, but he is now more synonymous with spreading deeply troubling antisemitism, and that is why I believe this show should not be allowed to go ahead,” Starmer said.
The US State Department said Tuesday that Waters has “a long track record of using antisemitic tropes” and a concert he gave late last month in Germany “contained imagery that is deeply offensive to Jewish people and minimized the Holocaust.”
In 2013, Waters in an interview said about the United States: “The Jewish lobby is extraordinarily powerful here and particularly in the industry that I work in, the music industry and in rock n’ roll.”
Waters is a well-known pro-Palestinian activist who has been accused of holding anti-Jewish views. He has floated an inflatable pig emblazoned with the Star of David at his concerts, and has berated performers who included the Jewish state in their tours. Waters himself played at the Jewish-Arab cooperative village Neve Shalom in 2006.
Last year, the Polish city of Krakow canceled gigs by Waters because of his sympathetic stance toward Russia in its war against Ukraine.
Canaan Lidor contributed to this report.