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Roger Waters fights back against claims of anti-Semitism Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Wednesday, 06 October 2010

Roger WatersRoger Waters has been driven to defend himself from allegations of anti-Semitism, after being accused by Abraham Foxman, the director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of using images in his stage show that promoted stereotypes.

During "Goodbye Blue Sky", a B52 bomber projected on to a backdrop is shown dropping a number of different symbols including the Star of David and a dollar sign, which Foxman said echoed the stereotype that Jews were avaricious.

Roger felt compelled to set the record straight in an open letter to The Independent newspaper, published this week (and shown below).

"I watch the workings of politics here and particularly the Republican Party. They work with the axiom that you can tell as many lies as you want – and often the bigger the better – and eventually they will believed," he said. "If I don't respond people will see the story and will come to believe I'm anti-Semitic, and I'm not. Nothing could be further from the truth."

UPDATE, October 8th: Rolling Stone report today that the video sequence used on October 6th at Madison Square Garden was adjusted so that the Stars of David were now followed by Mercedes symbols.

Roger said that the images chosen were "representative of religious and national and commercial interests, all of which have a malign influence on our lives and prevent us from treating each other decently", and accused the ADL of painting critics as anti-Semitic. "It's a screen that they hide behind. I don't think they should be taken seriously on that. You can attack Israeli policy without being anti-Jewish," he said.

"It's like saying if you criticise the US policy you are being anti-Christian. I'm critical of the Israeli policy of occupying Palestinian land and their policy of building settlements, which is entirely illegal under international law, and also of ghettoising the people whose land they are building on. It's that foreign policy I'm against. It's nothing to do with the religion."

He noted that he has received a lot of support from Jews: "There is a large movement inside Israel, young, Jewish Israeli citizens, and old ones too, who are against their government's policy in the same way as in England when Tony Blair took us to war against Iraq on the coat-tails of George Bush. I've had an extraordinary response. We've had over 1,000 comments on my Facebook page. They are all extremely supportive. A lot of the comments I've had have been from Jews."

His letter to 'The Independent':

Dear Sir

In a recent news item on Foxnews/online, subsequently abridged in The Evening Standard, Abraham Foxman, head of the ADL, (Anti Defamation League) in the USA, accuses my new production of The Wall and by implication me, of anti-Semitism.

A serious charge that demands a response. Had Mr Foxman come to my show before passing judgement and commenting publicly he might, I hope, have held his peace, as there is no anti Semitism in The Wall Show. The song to which he refers, Good Bye Blue Sky, describes how ordinary people, military and civilians alike, suffer trauma in the aftermath of war.

The visuals that accompany the song show waves of B52 bombers dropping various symbols from bomb bays on a war ravaged landscape. The symbols are: in no particular order, a Crucifix, a Hammer and Sickle, a Star of David, A Crescent and Star, a Mercedes sign, a Dollar sign, and a Shell Oil sign.

Mr Foxman's concern was that potentially the juxtoposition of a Star of David and a Dollar sign might incite hatred of Jews. Contrary to Mr Foxman's assertion, there are no hidden meanings in the order or juxtaposition of these symbols.

The point I am trying to make in the song is that the bombardment we are all subject to by conflicting religious, political, and economic ideologies only encourages us to turn against one another, and I mourn the concommitant loss of life.

In so far as The Wall has a political message it is to seek to illuminate our condition, and find new ways to encourage peace and understanding, particularly in the Middle East.

Incidentally, being from England, I had never heard of the ADL until today, but I have googled them and I see from their mission statement of 1913 that their brief is not only to defend the Jewish people from defamation, but also, and I quote, "to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens".

Perhaps we should all focus on that lofty ideal and stop cowering in our corners throwing stones at one another.

Roger Waters

 
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