Roger Waters wanted to write anti-Jewish slur on inflatable pig at concert, film says

Former Pink Floyd frontman mocked Holocaust victim, disparaged Jewish acquaintances, said Jews had no history, according to documentary by UK-based Campaign Against Antisemitism

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

Roger Waters performs at Barclays Arena in Hamburg, Germany, on May 7, 2023, to kick off his 'This Is Not A Drill' tour of Germany. (Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa via AP)
File: Roger Waters performs at Barclays Arena in Hamburg, Germany, on May 7, 2023, to kick off his "This Is Not A Drill" tour of Germany. (Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa via AP)

Former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters proposed writing an anti-Jewish slur on an inflatable pig used as a concert prop, mocked a Holocaust victim, and belittled Jewish acquaintances, a new documentary said.

The 37-minute film, titled “The Dark Side of Roger Waters,” was released by the UK-based advocacy group Campaign Against Antisemitism on Wednesday.

The filmmakers interviewed Waters’ former bandmates and staffers and revealed an antisemitic email from the musician, bolstering longstanding accusations of antisemitism against the rock star. Waters is a staunch supporter of the Palestinians who denies all allegations of antisemitism.

According to an email featured in the film, Waters asked his crew if they could add antisemitic tropes to a stage prop for his 2010 concert tour.

“Hey Guys, Who’s going to make pig?” Rogers wrote in the 2010 email, referring to a large inflatable pig that drifts over the audience at his concerts. Waters said he “imagined” the pig plastered with slogans including “dirty kyke,” a deeply offensive, racist term for Jewish people.

He also suggested writing dollar signs, “follow the money,” “scum,” a “crescent and star,” and Stars of David on the pig, among other slogans and symbols, according to the film.

Several years later, in 2013, Waters came under fire when he floated a pig emblazoned with a Star of David and symbols of dictatorial regimes over the audience during a concert in Belgium.

Waters also suggested “bombing” the audience with confetti shaped like swastikas, Stars of David and dollar signs, the film said.

The filmmakers interviewed Norbert Stachel, Waters’ former saxophonist, and Bob Ezrin, a renowned music producer who worked with Pink Floyd on its landmark 1979 album, The Wall.

Both Stachel and Ezrin, who are Jewish, claimed Waters referred to Jews in a derogatory or belittling manner.

In one of the alleged incidents, Stachel claimed that Waters in 2002 mocked his grandmother, who was murdered in the Holocaust.

During a conversation, Stachel told Waters that his father’s side of the family was all killed during the genocide, to which Waters said, “I can help you feel like you’re meeting your long-lost relatives. I can introduce you to your dead grandmother.”

“I can do a good Polish peasant imitation,” Waters said, according to Stachel.

“It was kind of like a slapstick, insulting way someone would think a person of no education and low class and maybe not real smart would speak,” Stachel said. “What got me, after he does this, he goes, ‘Now you’ve met your grandmother. How do you feel?'”

Stachel also said Waters was annoyed by vegetarian dishes at a meal during a tour in Lebanon in 2002, referring to the items as “Jew food.”

“What’s with the Jew food? Take away the Jew food,” Waters said, according to Stachel.

“And I’m just sitting there, ‘Oh, boy,’ you know, tongue-tied again and kind of in a panic,” Stachel said.

Roger Waters dressed as a fascist while onstage in Berlin, May 2023. (Twitter screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the copyright law)

A coworker told Stachel to not react to comments against Jews in order to keep his job, Stachel said.

During an argument between Waters and a girlfriend, Stachel said Waters denied Jews were a racial group, referring to them as “European men that grow beards.”

“They practice the religion Judaism but they’re no different than me, they have no difference in their background or their history or their culture or anything,” Waters said, according to Stachel.

Ezrin claimed that Waters once sang him an improvised tune about Waters’ then-agent Bryan Morrison, which concluded with the line, “Morri is a fucking Jew.”

The documentary’s investigation was spearheaded by journalist John Ware, a reporter for the BBC’s Panorama program. Ware has also probed antisemitism in the UK Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, who was replaced after a massive scandal over alleged widespread antisemitism in the party.

Roger Waters poses for photographs backdropped by an inflatable pig and the Battersea Power Station to promote his participation in the ‘Free Assange’ protest in London, February 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

“Roger Waters has repeatedly used his enormous platform to bait Jews, but he always claims that he is not antisemitic,” Gideon Falter, CEO of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said in a statement. “We believed that there was further evidence out there to the contrary, and the release of The Dark Side of Roger Waters now puts the evidence we obtained in the hands of the public.”

“It is hard to imagine a rockstar emblazoning the N-word above their concerts, but Mr. Waters demanded that his crew do exactly that with the K-word. Not only that, but he seems to have spent time humiliating and harassing his Jewish staff,” Falter said. “One cannot help but watch this film and wonder what kind of person uses their power to this effect. Is Roger Waters an antisemite? Now people can make up their own minds.”

Waters has been repeatedly accused of antisemitism by Jewish groups and authorities in the US, Europe and Israel.

He has berated performers who included the Jewish state in their tours, accused the “Jewish lobby” of holding sway over the music industry, compared Israel to Nazi Germany, and appeared onstage in a costume resembling Nazi attire.

The US State Department in June accused Waters of “Holocaust distortion” and having “a long track record of using antisemitic tropes.”

He is set to perform at the London Palladium, a major venue, on October 8 and 9. The venue and Waters have not yet responded to the documentary.

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