The top UN official in the Palestinian territories has defended Roger Waters amid allegations the singer was using antisemitic tropes at recent gigs.
Francesca Albanese, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, waded into the controversy following a controversial performance in Germany by the Pink Floyd singer.
Jewish community groups are now calling for Roger Waters’ UK shows to be axed after the rock legend wore a Nazi-style uniform at a Berlin concert last month in what he called a statement against fascism.
German police are investigating whether the Pink Floyd cofounder, a vocal critic of Israel, incited hatred through the May concert in which he wore a long, black coat with armbands.
Albanese said on Twitter: “The ferocity unleashed against Roger Waters, an immense artist and true icon of our time, a champion of human rights and justice, is absolutely shocking. Full solidarity.”
The ferocity unleashed against @rogerwaters, an immense artist and true icon of our time, a champion of human rights and justice, is absolutely shocking.Full solidarity.— Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur oPt (@FranceskAlbs) June 8, 2023
NB. Persecution of persons who oppose Apartheid is itself Apartheid (Int'l Convention on Apartheid, Art 2f). https://t.co/rsIRxshUfW
Albanese has previously faced calls for her dismissal from multiple fronts who largely accuse her of having an anti-Israel bias. But former rapporteurs publicly defended their successor and said they had been the target of attacks that have been “slanderous” and “personal”.
The Italian international human rights lawyer was appointed to the rapporteur role in May 2022 and is the first woman to hold the position, monitoring the human rights situation in the Palestinian territory.
Albanese’s intervention in the Roger Waters scandal comes as the Board of Deputies of British Jews wrote to senior politicians warning of concerns among Jewish communities in cities where the musician is scheduled to tour including Manchester and London. The Board of Deputies made it clear that Waters' performances are "not just concerts, but political rallies in which he gives his worldview".
In Germany, he was pictured wearing a Nazi-like costume, dressed in a long black coat with a red armband and brandishing an imitation machine gun.
In addition, footage shared on social media appears to show Waters saying at a recent show: "I watched Jeremy Corbyn being cancelled by the Israeli lobby. That is what happened in 2019."
Waters has claimed the elements of his performance being called into question are "quite clearly a statement in opposition to fascism, injustice and bigotry in all its forms".
"The depiction of an unhinged fascist demagogue has been a feature of my shows since Pink Floyd's The Wall in 1980," he said in a statement following the controversy surrounding his Berlin show.
"I have spent my entire life speaking out against authoritarianism and oppression wherever I see it."
Waters has previously been approached for comment in respect of the allegations of using antisemitic tropes