Roger Waters Denies ADL Charges of Anti-Semitism

Published: October 5th 2010
in Culture » Music

Roger Waters
Pic: file photo

Pink Floyd bassist and songwriter Roger Waters released a letter in Britain’s The Independent on Monday, defending himself against charges that he is anti-Semitic.


Last week, the Anti-Defamation League accused Waters of using anti-Semitic imagery during the song “Goodbye Blue Sky” on his current The Wall Live tour, charging that he uses “imagery associated with stereotypes about Jews and money.”


While performing the song, an animation of a B52 bomber drops bombs in the shape of a Star of David, dollar signs, a crucifix, a hammer and sickle, a crescent and star, a Mercedes sign and a Shell Oil sign.


The ADL stated that it was worried that the imagery of the Star of David next to the dollar sign “could easily be misunderstood as a comment about Jews and money.”


Waters said that he responded in the Independent because "if I don't respond, people will see the story and will come to believe I'm anti-Semitic, and I'm not.” He added, “Nothing could be further from the truth. "


He wrote in the letter that "there are no hidden meanings in the order or juxtaposition of these symbols.”


He went on to say, “The point I am trying to make in the song is that the bombardment we are all subject to by conflicting religious, political and economic ideologies only encourages us to turn against one another, and I mourn the concomitant loss of life.”


Waters said that before the controversy, he was not familiar with the ADL.


"In so far as The Wall has a political message it is to seek to illuminate our condition, and find new ways to encourage peace and understanding, particularly in the Middle East,” he said.


He accused the ADL of using anti-Semitism as a “screen” to hide behind. "I don't think they should be taken seriously on that. You can attack Israeli policy without being anti-Jewish. It's like saying if you criticize the U.S. policy you are being anti-Christian. I'm critical of the Israeli policy of occupying Palestinian land and their policy of building settlements, which is entirely illegal under international law, and also of ghettoizing the people whose land they are building on."


He said, "It's that foreign policy I'm against. It's nothing to do with the religion.”


Abraham Foxman, the director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement last week, "While [Waters] insists that his intent was to criticize Israel's West Bank security fence, the use of such imagery in a concert setting seems to leave the message open to interpretation, and the meaning could easily be misunderstood as a comment about Jews and money."


He said that he agrees Waters has the right to express his political views on the conflict through his music and live show. "However, the images he has chosen, when put together in the same sequence, cross a line into anti-Semitism."


"We wish that Waters had chosen some other way to convey his political views without playing into and dredging up the worst age-old anti-Semitic stereotype about Jews and their supposed obsession with making money," Foxman said.


Waters told The Independent that many Israelis agree with his position and he has received lots of positive response from Jewish fans. "There is a large movement inside Israel, young, Jewish Israeli citizens, and old ones too, who are against their government's policy in the same way as in England when Tony Blair took us to war against Iraq on the coat-tails of George Bush.”


He added, "I've had an extraordinary response. We've had over 1,000 comments on my Facebook page. They are all extremely supportive. A lot of the comments I've had have been from Jews."

Related articles: (Roger Waters, Pink Floyd, ADL, Abraham Foxman)

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