Roger Waters calls on Madonna not to perform at Eurovision in Tel Aviv
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Roger Waters calls on Madonna not to perform at Eurovision in Tel Aviv

Former Pink Floyd musician denies he is anti-Semitic in open letter asking Queen of Pop to cancel unconfirmed gig at the song contest

Roger Waters at a press conference for 'The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains' in Rome, Italy, January 16, 2018. He is a leading celebrity in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. (Ernesto S. Ruscio/Getty Images)
Roger Waters at a press conference for 'The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains' in Rome, Italy, January 16, 2018. He is a leading celebrity in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. (Ernesto S. Ruscio/Getty Images)

Roger Waters on Wednesday called on Madonna to cancel her rumored performance at the Eurovision Song Contest finals in Tel Aviv on May 18, claiming that it “normalizes the occupation, the apartheid, the ethnic cleansing, the incarceration of children, the slaughter of unarmed protesters.”

Madonna has been booked to perform at the finals of the competition next month, but her participation has not yet been officially announced by the event organizers.

“I am routinely accused of being anti-Semitic,” Waters wrote in an open letter published by The Guardian. “That accusation can be used as a smokescreen to divert attention and discredit those who shine a light on Israel’s crimes against humanity.

“I should point out that I support the fight for human rights for all oppressed peoples everywhere. The religion of the oppressor is neither here nor there,” he said.

Waters, best known as a former member of Pink Floyd who conceived the rock opera “The Wall,” has long been a passionate supporter of the Palestinian cause and has angered Israelis by leading calls for a cultural boycott of the Jewish state.

Madonna poses for photographers upon arrival at the world premiere of the film ‘The Beatles, Eight Days a Week,’ in London, September 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

He is also is known for publicly harassing artists scheduled to visit Israel or perform there as part of a campaign by the BDS — Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — movement, which calls on musicians to shun Israel as a way to press the Jewish state to change its treatment of the Palestinians.

In September, some 140 artists, including Waters, called for a boycott of the song contest.

Having previously defended Waters from accusations of anti-Semitism, the Anti-Defamation League in 2013 said “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories” have “seeped into the totality” of the former Pink Floyd frontman’s views.

Nearly every large act to book a show in Israel has come under pressure from pro-Palestinian activists as part of the BDS campaign. While some, like Lorde, Elvis Costello and Cat Power, have canceled gigs, most have resisted the boycott effort.

Israel’s defenders have denounced the boycott campaign as hypocritical, saying the democratic country has been singled out when some prominent musicians are willing to play in dictatorships.

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