Jewish activists are planning a guerrilla campaign to disrupt Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters’ British tour, which began this week.
The singer, 79, has provoked controversy in the past by comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, attacking the “Jewish lobby” and, in 2013, flying a pig-shaped balloon emblazoned with a Star of David at a concert.
Waters on stage (Getty Images)
In February, Polly Samson, wife of Waters’ former bandmate Dave Gilmour, called him “antisemitic to your rotten core” and a “Putin apologist”. Waters responded by refuting her claim, saying he was “taking advice” as to his position.
The musician is also under investigation by German police after he wore an SS-style uniform on stage in Berlin last month.
The costume included a black leather trench coat and a red armband emblazoned with two crossed hammers. Displaying Nazi symbols, flags and uniforms is illegal in Germany.
Demonstrators gather during the Munich leg of Waters’ tour (Photo: Alamy)
British campaigners have told the JC that they plan to crash Waters’ UK tour, which will see him perform at major arenas in Birmingham, Glasgow, London and Manchester.
Activists are planning demonstrations and stage invasions involving Israeli flags, banners, leaflets and other means of disruption.
Some said they were inspired by the tactics of radical climate campaign group Just Stop Oil, which has brought motorways to a halt and delayed sporting events to protest against climate change.
“Are we going to throw blue and white powder, like they do? We could do,” one activist said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Another added: “We don’t support Just Stop Oil, but their protests have been very effective.”
Protesters gather prior to Waters's show in Munich (Alamy)
In Frankfurt, where Waters appeared on Sunday 28, a protester who only gave his name as “Marcel L” interrupted the performance by storming the stage and waving an Israeli flag as a group of demonstrators began singing “Am Yisrael Chai”.
Security guards threatened threatened to “break his neck” if he didn’t hand over the flag, he told the JC.
Marcel, 26, said that when an artist takes to the stage “with an SS-style uniform and pretends to shoot, then there is a point at which every citizen of Germany… should stand up and make an intervention.”
Ahead of Waters’ first UK gig, which took place in Birmingham on Wednesday, council members wrote to The NEC Group, which owns the arena at which he performed, to express their concerns.
Roger Waters on stage in Germany (Photo: Sky News)
Responding to a letter from the National Jewish Assembly (NJA), Anne Kennedy, head of the Birmingham Lord Mayor’s office, said cabinet members had urged the NEC to ensure Waters’ Nazi-inspired outfits were not used.
The International Legal Forum (ILF), a global network of over 4,000 lawyers and activists, has also urged the venues hosting Waters to call off the shows.
In a letter to the venues’ owners, the group asked them to “consider cancelling" the shows, in light of Waters’ “offensive display” in Germany.
Such a display could breach UK law, it warned, citing the 1986 Public Order Act, and the 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act, which deems it a criminal offence “to stir up religious hatred”.
The letter stated: “Whilst we firmly believe in the power of artists to express their freedom and to push boundaries of art, they do not have carte blanche to incite religious or racial hatred, and distort the Holocaust, including the systematic annihilation of six million Jews."
A petition launched by the Campaign Against Antisemitism calling on venues to refuse to host the tour has meanwhile received thousands of signatures.
“That his latest show apparently includes a visual equation of Israelis to Nazis, which extends his record of making such comparisons, is all the more reason for these venues to steer clear of him,” it claimed.
This week, former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke posted a rambling comment in support of the musician saying the “Jewish global deep state is at war with Waters for daring to expose Israel’s crimes”.
A man rushes the stage with an Israel flag during a Roger Waters concert in Frankfurt, Germany
At Waters’ London shows, which will take place at The O2, Jewish campaigners are set to protest outside to counter the musician’s anti-Israel views.
Yochy Davis, 60, said: “I’m part of a group of grassroots activists who care about Israel and antisemitism. We go wherever we’re needed.
“We have organised counter-demonstrations at the offices of [the Israeli defence firm] Elbit when they were under attack. We’ve gone outside the Puma shop in Carnaby Street when it was targeted. We hijack the [anti-Israel] Al Quds march every year.
"We are going to be outside the O2 and other venues with our flags and banners and leaflets. I’m really chuffed that all these organisations are putting differences aside and fighting this man.”
Steve Winston, managing director of the NJA, said protesters planned to hand out leaflets to explain Waters’ problematic views.
“Some people will shun them, some people might take them, some might drop them in the rubbish, but hopefully it will get people thinking,” he said.
Activists will also carry placards saying, “hey Roger, leave us Jews alone”, and “from The Dark Side of the Moon to the wrong side of history”, a play on a 1973 Pink Floyd album.
Martin Rankoff, of Likud UK, said he did not plan to invade the stage but wanted to “make sure people are aware what sort of a chap Waters is”.
He said: “The one thing we would never do is cause harm and discomfort to those attending.
“Those attending are not necessarily interested in his political views. Let them enjoy the gig, they’re spending their hard-earned money.”
Damon Lensner, who also plans to protest, said: “Most people won’t want to know, they’ll just be there for the music. But we’ll be there with leaflets to educate people who want to learn.”
Representatives for Waters did not respond to a request for comment.