Are Roger Waters’ Germany concerts really anti-Semitic?

Many may say it’s not my business to judge, because I haven’t attended any of these shows.

But then, it seems many are also being influenced by strongly pro-Israeli writers on the social media, and I dare say their opinions will be treated as valid. Either way, if my conclusions are inaccurate I’m ready to stand corrected by anybody with a well-reasoned argument.

The complaint is that former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters has displayed anti-Semitism in his current tour, with the latest shows in Germany attracting particularly strong criticism.

A show in Frankfurt was cancelled at one point, due to concerns that had been raised – but Waters took the matter to court and the event was reinstated. This suggests there is no legal basis for the claim made against these performances.

If there were, then it seems enormously unlikely that they would be allowed to take place in Germany, a country that may be (perhaps should be) forever in penitance for the genuine anti-Semitism, persecution and genocide of Jewish people during the 12 years of Nazi government there.

Part of the show that has attracted particular attention is a moment when the names of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and world-famous diarist Anne Frank were projected on screens around the stage (see above).

The claim is that this is anti-Semitic because it links Israel with Nazism (Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead by Israeli military forces and Anne Frank died in a Nazi concentration camp).

But is the government of Israel really every Jew? If so, are we to take it that the Nazis of 1933-45 are representative of every German in 2023? That is the logical supposition behind the claim. I tend to believe that it fails because Germans would not attend a performance by anybody who makes such a claim about them.

To me, it seems far more likely that the musician was linking Jewish people with Palestinians by pointing out that both races have suffered oppression – the former historically and the latter currently.

In both cases, their only crime (according to the on-screen verbiage) was belonging to a race that a foreign political regime had chosen to oppress, and in both cases the result was the same: death.

I’m aware that many say any comparison between the activities of anybody who is Jewish and those of the Nazis is an act of anti-Semitism but this makes it too easy to whitewash unacceptable acts of violence like the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh.

If the activities of the Israeli Defence Force are comparable in any way with those of the Nazis, then any such similarities need to be dragged under the spotlight and examined because if they were found to be accurate, then it would be the Israeli military who had betrayed their fellow Jews by acting in that way – not anybody who pointed out what they were doing.

Nobody could suggest that those people were acting on behalf of all Jews by (in this example) killing a Palestinian journalist and be taken seriously.

A further criticism of the show is that Roger Waters appears to don a Nazi uniform and mime firing a machine gun into the audience. This is supposed to demonstrate sympathy for the Nazis.

But, again, this claim is not supportable. In a show that attacks Nazi atrocities like the oppression and eventual death of Anne Frank, it is not reasonable to suggest that the performer is himself a Nazi sympathiser.

Instead, I question the motives of those making the accusations. They have no factual grounds on which to base their claims. It seems to me that they are simply trying to stir up an emotional response instead – mass hysteria if you like – against Roger Waters.

I wonder why they would want to do such a thing. What do you think?

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  1. Tony May 24, 2023 at 7:51 am - Reply

    The killing of Shireen, in a war zone, was tragic. Anne Frank was interned in a death camp along with many other Jews as part of mass genocide… These things are not in any way comparable.

    If you can’t criticise Israel, who have a 2 million strong Arab population, without comparing them to Nazis, who created an industry to genocide Jews, as well as many others, you are an Antisemite.

    • Mike Sivier May 24, 2023 at 9:06 am - Reply

      The two deaths mentioned were comparable though. As for comparing Israel to the Nazis – as I stated in the article, that is not what has happened here.

      • Tony May 24, 2023 at 11:16 am - Reply

        You think an accidental shooting in a war zone is comparable to a teenager being hunted down as a Jew and sent to an industrialised death camp designed to genocide Jews and other groups. Ok…

        Yes, you stated it, and then literally wrote “If the activities of the Israeli Defence Force are comparable in any way with those of the Nazis.” So, I reiterate, if you can’t criticise Israel, who have a 2 million strong Arab population, without comparing them to Nazis, who created an industry to genocide Jews, as well as many others, you are an Antisemite.

        • Mike Sivier May 24, 2023 at 12:13 pm - Reply

          Investigations conducted by international news outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Bellingcat, as well as by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, all concluded that the shot that killed her came from Israeli forces. Forensic Architecture, a London-based research group, found that she was deliberately targeted, and that sustained shooting indicated “Shireen was actively and deliberately denied medical aid” in the absence of fighting in the area.

          So: NO, I do not think an accidental shooting in a war zone is comparable to a teenager being hunted down as a Jew and sent to an industrialised death camp designed to genocide Jews and other groups. I do, however, think that a journalist being targeted, shot and denied medical aid until she died – because she was Palestinian – is comparable to a diarist being targeted, sent to a death camp and denied medical aid until she died – because she was a Jew; the similarities between what happened to them are more important than any racial difference.

          You have fallen at the first hurdle. You also fall with your next point, because you have deliberately tried to suggest that my reference to a very specific group of people is a criticism of an entire nation. I took great care to avoid such a comparison.

          So, Tony: since you have come here with a deliberate attempt to distort what I said in order to make a false accusation against me, would you like to come clean and explain why you have decided to behave so utterly despicably about a subject that is so important and emotive?

    • flttymartyn May 24, 2023 at 9:30 am - Reply

      The zionists and their bought and paid for politicians such as Starmer, hate any criticism of the murdering land stealers who are illegally occupying Palestine.The outright cowardice of the UN and others continually make the situation worse…Israel only understands force, so measly empty words are meaningless.

    • John May 24, 2023 at 10:45 am - Reply

      ‘The killing of Shireen, in a war zone’ would suggest there is a war between Israel and Palestine. It was not a war zone, ‘a vehicle carrying a group of journalists arrived at the first roundabout in Jenin refugee camp. They were there to cover an Israeli raid on the camp, and a number of Israeli snipers were stationed on rooftops… Akleh got out of the vehicle, wearing a helmet and a flak jacket clearly marked with PRESS. An Israeli sniper shot her, hitting just below her ear. She fell near a wall, and the shooting continued, hindering other journos from reaching her. Her colleague, Ali al-Samoudi, was also shot in the back.’
      The 2 million strong Arab population do not have the same rights as the rest of the population. It is an occupation, not a friendly democratic nation. This, of course, is not the fault of the population, but the government. Criticism of an apartheid regime, is not criticism of the people living with it.

  2. Dave Rowlands May 24, 2023 at 8:49 am - Reply

    Accusations of Antisemitism is used to shut down any reporting of Israel where Palestinians are concerned. Once accused you are then guilty until proven innocent and articles are removed from further viewing and as in this case concerts stopped. How many Labour members were actually guilty of Antisemitism just because right wing labour members said they were? Those Labour members were also expelled from the party so the Antisemitism accusation can be very effective in shutting down anything that Israeli supporters don’t wish to be known.

  3. mohandeer May 24, 2023 at 11:18 am - Reply

    I am a follower of B’Tselem(Israeli observers of occupied territories)and JVP and both organisations condemn the Israeli apartheid system. The conflation of Israel and any criticism of that country with anti Semitism(Semite: member of race including Jews and Arabs – Collins Dictionary) or (member of any of the peoples supposed to be descended from Shem, son of Noah(Genesis 10:21 ff.), inc. esp. the Jews, Arabs, Assyrians, Babylonians and Phoenecians, Semitic:…relating to the languages of the family including Hebrew and Arabic – Oxford Dictionary) is inaccurate and misrepresentative at best. Why would a state supposedly Jewish decide to re-invent the English Language by referring to Jews as Semites but not Arabs? There is and always was, only one answer. That was to eradicate the identity of Arabs who also suffered under the Nazis, as distinct in their suffering from the slaughter, so that only Jews were the “victims” of Nazi atrocities.
    But as Golda Meir said on arriving on American soil from Israel “I’m not a Jew I’m a socialist” That speaks volumes on elitist Israeli ideals.

    Roger Waters knew who he was and wanted to be. He is still anti war and anti phobic/racist and as such speaks for millions of us and his shows are a platform for those views trying to defy the all pervasive and insidious censorship so many of us are trying to circumnavigate. That censorship is only made more obvious by attempts to silence him, something that is becoming more obscene. Long may he win the battles in an attempt to win the war. I’m with the real victims of the Israeli apartheid system and it’s right wing extremist who hold sway over so many Israeli Jews. More young people are becoming “Refusers” and even doing prison time so as to avoid joining the ranks of the IDF and being required to treat Palestinians as “beasts”, preferring instead to treat them as human beings.

    Roger Waters is no anti Semite any more than Jeremy Corbyn is or was.

    • Mike Sivier May 24, 2023 at 12:18 pm - Reply

      As “anti-Semite” is a term that was invented by an anti-Semite specifically to refer to Jews, I’m afraid I can’t agree with your comments on the nature of the word. That said, you are absolutely right that conflating criticism of Israel – the political entity – with anti-Semitism is inaccurate and misrepresentative.

    • Stu May 24, 2023 at 4:59 pm - Reply

      I’ve always been a huge Roger Waters fan mainly because he advocates Peace, Understanding, Education and Fairness and I appreciate you linking him with Jeremy Corbyn who has similar views.
      Roger points out the flaws and hypocracy in humanity as well as the beauty and is attacked for those balanced views, because views like that make people happy and hopeful not angry and despondent – the Right Wing don’t like that !

      Perhaps a good example is from his song “Perfect Sense”:-

      “The Germans Kills the Jews, the Jews Kill the Arabs, the Arabs Kill the Hostages and that is the News” – now tell me who exactly is he favouring here?

  4. Lynn Dye May 25, 2023 at 4:35 am - Reply

    As another fan of Roger Waters, I agree with Stu. And with your summing up, Mike. It is not anti-Semitic to criticise the Israeli government, although of course that was also Jeremy Corbyn’s downfall. Peace lovers are bad news to the right wing.

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