John Ware

The dark side of Roger Waters

For an “anti-racist" activist Waters has shown himself oddly tone deaf to Jewish sensibilities


VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06: Roger Waters walks the red carpet ahead of the "Roger Waters Us + Them" screening during the 76th Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on September 06, 2019 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

February 10, 2023 16:09

Multimillionaire Roger Waters has threatened Polly Samson - the wife of his ex-Pink Floyd bandmate David Gilmour - with defamation after she tweeted the following:

“Sadly @rogerwaters you are antisemitic to your rotten core. Also, a Putin apologist and a lying, thieving, hypocritical, tax-avoiding, lip-synching, misogynistic, sick-with-envy, megalomaniac. Enough of your nonsense.”

“Every word demonstrably true,” added Gilmour. Waters said he “refutes entirely”  Samson’s “incendiary and wildly inaccurate comments” and is taking legal advice.

Is Waters serious? 

I ask because when it comes to defamation, as in so much else, Waters has a mouth on him. In my case, however, his bellicose threats of ensuring victory for Corbynites I was suing, turned out to be bluster.

Waters helped finance the defence of two of the three sets of Corbynites I sued: Jewish Voice for Labour and a pro-Corbyn journalist Paddy French who runs a website exposing “rogue journalism.”

This marathon litigation was peppered with occasional Chernobyl-style meltdowns from the ageing rocker with ill-concealed personal venom. 

In the end, all three defendants capitulated because the evidence forced them to accept they couldn't prove the truth of their allegations that I'd deliberately set out to deceive the public, and also that I was an Islamophobe.

I have since heard no more from Waters. Shutting him down was even more satisfying than the knowledge that he'd wasted tens of thousands by contributing to the JVL and Paddy French's legal defence.

Of course, in my trade, you meet people all the time who talk rubbish, but Waters is up there in the pantheon of fruit loops.

“Panorama is entirely controlled by the Oligarchs” asserted Waters in one of his rants against me. He was speaking to an outfit called “Palestine Deep Dive” interviewed by a former UN official Mark Seddon who failed to remind the audience the BBC is funded by licence payers. “Bought and paid for” ranted on Waters, unchallenged. “It’s extremely sad, yeah? We used to pretend in England, where I’m from, that we cared about human rights, about justice.”

How “deep” were my “pockets?” Waters once asked. "They’re deep” said Waters answering his own question, presumably based on his fantasy that “oligarchs” were funding me. No “oligarchs” have funded me. I was funding myself, my pockets are certainly not deep and I am in fact very much out of pocket. 

So, imagine my surprise upon learning that the UN Security Council has just been graced with an address from Waters. The invitation from Russia followed his interview with a German newspaper, in which he praised Putin's leadership.

In fact, in his address, Waters did condemn the Ukraine invasion, but then said it was not "unprovoked", so he condemned the “provocateurs (i.e. Ukraine) in the strongest possible terms."

In recent days Waters has also said that "Nazis are in control' of Ukraine's government", that Ukraine  “is not really a country at all', more a "patchy vague experiment”, and that “it may be” that Putin is “leading his country to the benefit of all of the people of Russia”.

It gets worse: we in the West have all been “brainwashed” over Ukraine: the US “orchestrated” the 2014 Maidan coup; the “most important reason” arms are being supplied to Ukraine is “surely to profit the arms industry” because what Ukraine is really all about is “making the rich in the Western countries even richer and the poor everywhere even poorer” and anyway, the US would “love to destroy Russia”.

For free-flowing gibberish, this is hard to beat. 

It is astonishing to me that anyone should ever wish to take seriously anything Waters says because he is so ignorant, yet he is regularly interviewed by media outlets, including broadcasters.

Of course, celebrity ignorance is not a new problem. During World War Two, celebrities supported Hitler, Mussolini,  and Stalin. The problem with giving Waters any kind of a platform is that he’s both a celebrity that many sane people revere and also a dreadful bigot when it comes to Israel. 

Waters has just re-recorded “The Dark Side of The Moon” the critically acclaimed record half a century ago that helped propel Pink Floyd into international fame. “It’s my project and I wrote it” he says. Very apposite. There is indeed a dark side to Roger Waters.

He says that his problem is with Israeli government policies, not Jews. Who does Waters think lives in Israel when he says that Israel believes “Jewish people are somehow superior to everybody else on the planet”;  that Israelis are like aliens “although it’s giving aliens a bad name”; that Israel has a right to exist only so long as it’s democratic and it isn’t; that the “right wing rabbinate...believe that everybody that is not a Jew is only on Earth to serve them.” 

For an “anti-racist, pro-human rights”  activist Waters has shown himself oddly tone-deaf to Jewish sensibilities, famously floating a large inflatable pig over one of his concerts with the Jewish Star of David juxtaposed with dollar signs. Just criticizing Israel’s West Bank security fence, insisted Waters, nothing to do with Jews and money. Yeah, right.

Waters has said he’s “not sure that there any much harsher regimes around the world" than Israel. Like armies everywhere, the IDF has done bad things, and personally, I’ve never understood either the moral or legal justification for demolishing the homes of relatives of Palestinians who killed or attempted to kill Israelis, even though they weren’t suspected of colluding in terrorism. 

But the world’s "harshest" regime? As any sane person know, there are things going on not far from Israel’s borders much worthier of protest: the estimated 600,000 killed in Syria, 13 million Syrians displaced and 6.7 million forced to flee Syria for starters. Or the slow public strangulation of young human rights activists in Iran being dangled from cranes.

Still, Waters was at his “how very dare you!” self-righteous best last week. There’s “not a single millisecond of anti-Semitism anywhere in my life” he protested.  

I don’t know what evidence Polly Samson has for Waters’ alleged “thieving, hypocritical, tax-avoiding, lip synching, misogynistic” ways. But when it comes to being antisemitic to his “rotten core”, I don’t think she has much to fear from the old boy and his blustering threats of defamation.

February 10, 2023 16:09

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