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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

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Anti-Semitic imagery gets Waters in hot water

Tags: Arts
Roger Waters

Looks like former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters is in hot – uh – waters again over the use of allegedly anti-Semitic imagery in his The Wall tour, now in its second year.

A fan at a recent show in Belgium complained about a Star of David that was painted on a huge inflatable pig that is released over the audience midway through the show.

The fan, Alon Onfus Asif, an Israeli Jew, said he spotted the Star of David alongside “other symbols of fascism, dictatorships and oppressors of people.” He posted footage of the pig on YouTube.

Asif alerted the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot, and the story was picked up by Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who, in an interview with the Algemeiner Journal, called Waters an “open hater of Jews.”

On his Facebook page, the prolific writer of such classic rock albums as The Wall and The Dark Side of the Moon took issue with Rabbi Cooper’s complaint, saying that the Anti Defemation League (ADL) had cleared his show of any anti-Semitism, that he’s close friends with Simon Wiesenthal’s nephew, and that Waters has two Jewish grandchildren through his daughter-in-law.

ADL responded that the controversy was “old news,” and that while it wishes Waters would stop using the Star of David, “we believe there is no anti-Semitic intent here.”

Waters makes clear that he does have issues with Israeli policies vis-à-vis its treatment of Palestinians, and that he’s a strong supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, but that doesn’t make him anti-Semitic.

“To peacefully protest against Israel’s racist domestic and foreign policies is NOT ANTI-SEMITIC,” he wrote. “Your contention that because I criticize the policies of the Israeli government I should be lumped in with the Muslim Brotherhood is risible, and again a personal affront.”

As a postscript, he added: “For the sake of some perspective. The inflatable pig that so offended young Alon has appeared at every Wall show since September 2010, some 193 shows, yours is the first complaint. Also the pig in question represents evil, and more specifically the evil of errant government. We make a gift of this symbol of repression to the audience at the end of every show, and the people always do the right thing. They destroy it.”

In October 2010, shortly after the tour began, Waters was forced to defend his symbols (which also include a crucifix and a Muslim crescent) against criticism, this time in an open letter in The Independent newspaper in Britain.

The outspoken critic of Israeli policies has also said that the West Bank security fence is “an obscenity that should be torn down.”

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