Roger Waters is among the most vocal and prominent demonisers of the Jewish state

Waters – and the ideology that he has spent years promoting – has everything to do with what we are now witnessing and living through

October 10, 2023 18:20

It feels almost a lifetime ago that Campaign Against Antisemitism exposed rockstar and former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters in a full length documentary, followed by a 17-minute sequel

But Waters – and the ideology that he has spent years promoting – has everything to do with what we are now witnessing and living through.

It was less than two weeks ago that the seemingly untouchable musician was revealed by us in our film, created together with BBC Panorama veteran John Ware, to have proposed writing the phrase "Dirty k*ke" on the inflatable pig habitually flown over his concerts, sang a song about his then-agent being a "f***ing Jew", sought to drop swastika confetti on his audience, and mocked a Jewish band member’s grandmother who was murdered in the Holocaust, among other dreadful allegations. 

Waters responded with a statement in which he did not deny the claims, resorting instead to defending himself as being "frequently mouthy and prone to irreverence".

This week, as he has done so many times throughout his career, Waters has been performing in London; two nights at the Palladium. However, the once untouchable rockstar’s performances were almost unrecognisable.

Last time he performed in London he was filled with vitriol and bombast, denouncing former Pink Floyd lyricist Polly Samson, who called him “antisemitic to [his] rotten core” by shouting mid-concert “Polly Samson…who would want to wake up to that every morning”. He railed against a Labour MP who criticised his behaviour towards Jews by calling the MP a “cripple…working for his masters in the Foreign Office in Tel Aviv.”

There was none of the Punch and Judy pantomime and bullying monologues this time around. He read from a script, berating Campaign Against Antisemitism for removing his ability to “wax political”. Instead, a bitter man read extracts about a duck from his unpublished autobiography to jeers and heckling from his own fans. 

The press leading up to the concerts and the post-show reviews all aired the damning revelations in the documentary. Previously, he has always appeared to have been able to shake off the putrid smell of antisemitism which has lingered over him for over a decade, only picked up by those who knew what to look out for. No longer.

Our investigation into Waters broke new ground for Campaign Against Antisemitism. With the expert help of BBC Panorama veteran John Ware, whose exposés of antisemitism over the years have frankly been nothing short of heroic, we were able to lay bare the real story of Waters’ attitude towards Jews. We travelled far and wide, speaking to people from Waters’ past, learning of the shocking things that he had said and done, and laying our hands on e-mails from Waters himself, including the now-infamous “dirty k*ke” e-mail.

Our documentary, The Dark Side of Roger Waters, has now been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people on social media, reported on in every single major national newspaper, and covered by the major broadcasters.

It has been a new technique for Campaign Against Antisemitism: a new way for us to expose the dark side of a celebrity who previously was able to masquerade as a lifelong anti-racist, unassailable through litigation. This is just the beginning of our use of this approach.

While Waters may, in view of events since the weekend, seem like a sideshow, he is not. It is incendiary language from people like Waters that has always had the potential to culminate in many of the scenes of vandalism and intimidation Jews are currently experiencing around the world. We can never disregard those with platforms the size of his as simply cranks with a frustrating but ultimately harmless obsession with Israel. 

Waters has been among the most vocal and prominent demonisers of the Jewish state who, along with the millions who share his odious views or have bought into his nefarious propaganda, have given succour to the enemies of the Jewish people, who are now out in force on streets from London to Sydney justifying the murder of Jews or actively calling for it.

As our attention shifts to those carrying out those attacks and glorifying terrorist organisations – against whom our unrelenting campaign of justice will take years – we will not forget those whose defamation of Jews has laid the groundwork for the antisemitism that we are now seeing. Their time, too, will come.

From Roger Waters to antisemitic demonstrations in London, and from conspiratorial academics, barristers and even nurses and pharmacists to whom we trust our care, to those who brazenly attack Jews, the reason for any of our work is always the same: to expose antisemitism wherever we see it, and ensure the Jewish community knows that we will deliver justice. 

Gideon Falter is the chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism

October 10, 2023 18:20

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