Roger Waters hits out at documentary portraying him as anti-Semitic
Roger Waters has released a statement criticising a new documentary that makes him out to be anti-Semitic.
The documentary The Dark Side of Roger Waters explores allegations of anti-Semitism against the Pink Floyd co-founder and was released this week by UK-based advocacy group Campaign Against Antisemitism.
Waters mentions that the filmmakers approached him for comment earlier this month but he declined. Now, however, he has given his verdict on it in a lengthy post on his website.
“All my life I have used the platform my career has given me to support causes I believe in. I passionately believe in Universal Human Rights. I have always worked to make the world a better, more just and more equitable place for all my brothers and sisters, all over the world, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or nationality, from indigenous peoples threatened by the US oil industry to Iranian women protesting for their rights,” he began.
“That is why I am active in the non-violent protest movement against the Israeli government’s illegal occupation of Palestine and its egregious treatment of Palestinians. Those who wish to conflate that position with anti-Semitism do a great disservice to us all.
“Truth is, I’m frequently mouthy and prone to irreverence, I can’t recall what I said 13 or more years ago. I’ve worked closely for many years with many Jewish people, musicians and others.”
He continued: “If I have upset the two individuals who appear in the film I’m sorry for that. But I can say with certainty that I am not, and have never been, an anti-Semite – as anyone who really knows me will testify. I know the Jewish people to be a diverse, interesting, and complicated bunch, just like the rest of humanity. Many are allies in the fight for equality and justice, in Israel, Palestine and around the world.
“The film totally distorts and misrepresents my views about the Israeli state and its political ideology, Zionism. It relies on a definition of anti-Semitism that sees criticising Israel as inherently anti-Semitic and assumes that Zionism is an essential element in Jewish identity. These opinions, clearly shared by the presenter and the two interviewees, are widely contested by many, including many Jewish people.
“The CAA film manipulates footage and quotations to serve its agenda and is seriously misleading in many respects.
“In summary, the film is a flimsy, unapologetic piece of propaganda that indiscriminately mixes things I’m alleged to have said or done at different times and in different contexts, in an effort to portray me as an anti-Semite, without any foundation in fact.”
The filmmakers are yet to respond to Waters’ statement.
Earlier this week the producer of The Dark Side of Roger Waters claimed that he once heard Waters call the band’s agent, Bryan Morrison, a “fucking Jew” while he was performing.
Elsewhere, saxophonist Norbert Stachel, who played for Waters, alleged that the musician angrily rejecting food in a restaurant that he allegedly deemed “Jew food”. He also alleged that Waters mocked his family, some of whom were killed in the Holocaust, by mimicking them.
Documentary makers also claim that Waters proposed to use anti-Semitic language on a prop during one of his stage shows. After a lighting director of the show, who was Jewish, protested, Waters allegedly removed one of the slurs.
In June the US State Department criticised Waters over a show in Berlin, describing it as “deeply offensive to Jewish people”.
The month prior, Waters appeared on stage at his show wearing a black trench coat with a swastika-like emblem during a segment that revolved around a character from Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’, who imagines himself as a fictional fascist dictator during a hallucination.
The musician claimed that the segment was a statement against fascism, injustice and bigotry and called criticism of it “disingenuous and politically motivated”.
US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, Deborah Lipstadt, called the concert “Holocaust distortion” and amplified a tweet denouncing Waters by the European Commission’s coordinator on combating anti-semitism.
According to Reuters, the State Department supported Lipstadt’s comment and added in an email that Waters’ Berlin concert “contained imagery that is deeply offensive to Jewish people and minimized the Holocaust”.
The department went on to add: “The artist in question has a long track record of using antisemitic tropes to denigrate Jewish people.”
Waters has faced significant backlash following the show in Berlin. During a show on May 31 in Birmingham he went on a rant about how “pissed off” he was at “the anti-Semitism bullshit” surrounding him over the last month and claimed that critics are trying to cancel him “like they cancelled Jeremy Corbyn and Julian Assange”.
Waters has repeatedly denied all accusations of anti-Semitism and explained that his disdain is towards Israel, not Judaism. He also accused Israel of “abusing the term anti-Semitism to intimidate people like me into silence”.