Time to revisit Roger Waters. In November 2015, we spent several days pondering the aging rocker and former Pink Floyd front man. We noted that in 2012, he defended Hamas terrorists, characterizing them as victims of Israeli “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “occupation.” In 2013, his concerts featured “a pig-shaped balloon adorned with Jewish symbols, including a Star of David.” He also compared Israelis to Nazis. “The parallels with what went on in the 1930s in Germany are so crushingly obvious,” he said of the supposed Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians.
In 2015, Salon ran an open letter by Waters to singer Robbie Williams, who was scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv. Waters informed Williams that Israelis view Palestinian children “as grass to be mowed” and instructed him that if he took the stage in Israel, he would be supporting “the deaths of over 500 Palestinian children last summer in Gaza…and condoning the arrest and abuse of hundreds of Palestinian children each year living under Israeli occupation.” Later that year, Salon published an even more virulent rant addressed to the band Bon Jovi, whose members he accused of being complicit in the murder of babies.
We were so awed by Waters’s bile that we named him one of the top ten stooges of 2015.
As we noted in our 2015 articles, Waters has been heavily criticized in some quarters for his anti-Jewish bile. Some very smart and well-informed people have tried to talk sense to him. But none of it has sunk in. He’s hung in there, sprewing his enmity. One of his most recent explosions was recounted by Liel Leibovitz in The Tablet on July 11. “[I]t takes a lot to move me, especially when it comes to the never-ending torrent of bigoted drivel produced by Israel’s shrillest detractors,” wrote Leibovitz. “But this week, Roger Waters proved he still has the stuff, producing a masterpiece of hate that deserves a moment of consideration.”
Leibovitz went on to explain that at a performance in London’s Hyde Park, Waters had displayed “political slogans on the Jumbotrons.” They were inane: “Resist the Military Industrial Complex!” “Resist Rattling Your Sabre at Iran.” And so on. But the most absurd was this: “Resist Israeli anti-Semitism.” Meaning what? Meaning, apparently, that in the mind of Roger Waters, as Leibovitz put it, “the world’s only Jewish state is guilty of Jew-hatred.” Commented Leibovitz: “It’s not only an idiotic statement, but an astonishingly pernicious one as well. It begins with Waters appointing himself the arbiter of what passes for anti-Jewish persecution….And it continues with the rock star searching for evidence of anti-Jewish bigotry and finding it in the only place in the world where Jews are fully responsible for their own collective destiny.”
Waters might or might not know this, but as Leibovitz pointed out,
Blaming the Jews for their own misfortune…isn’t a new trick. It’s been a seminal feature of anti-Semitic rhetoric for millennia, and it served well squadrons of hissing haters who argued that if so many people want to exterminate the Jews, well, it must be for some good reason. But the modern incarnation of this ancient hatred is particularly grotesque: Speaking the hollowed-out language of the regressive left, Waters not only blames the Jews for their own troubles, but does so while claiming to be a champion of human rights. He’s telling his fans that it’s very important to take anti-Semitism seriously, and then adding that the only way to do it is to target the Jews.
Three cheers to Leibovitz and The Tablet for calling Waters out. But why isn’t there more rage at his bigotry? Why does he still have a career? “In an age when entertainers can lose their livelihood for one gauche tweet,” Leibovitz mused, “you can only wonder why no one seems too eager to censor this singing anti-Semite.”