Former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters issued an apology for his June 20 remarks on the Hamas-affiliated Shehab New Agency in which he called Jewish philanthropist and GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson the “puppet master” of the Trump administration.
Waters had said, “Sheldon Adelson, who is the puppet master pulling the strings of Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo and what’s his name … the ambassador [to Israel], Greenberg [sic] I think his name is. Sheldon Adelson is the puppet master pulling all of the strings.”
He went on to call Zionism “an ugly stain and it needs to be gently removed by us.” Waters also accused Israel of teaching the knee-to-neck technique that was used on African American man George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.
In a statement posted to his website on June 25, Waters apologized for his comments.
“During the Interview, in expressing my total solidarity with and support for the Palestinian people, when referring to Sheldon Adelson’s support for the racist policies of both Trump and Netanyahu, I used words that evoked metaphorical imagery which, my friends said, were ‘harmful to Jewish people and to the movement for Palestinian rights’ — and for this, I’m very sorry,” Water said. “At the time, I had no idea that I was evoking an anti-Semitic trope. I regret any harm or hurt my use of words caused Jewish people, and also any ways it may have reinforced damaging lies about Jews. Nothing could have been further from my intentions. I have only respect and compassion for my Jewish brothers and sisters in our collective struggle for a more just and peaceful world.”
He also admitted he was wrong in accusing Israel of teaching the knee-to-neck technique to United States police officers.
“A friend I called for guidance on this, who is an acknowledged expert on the police exchange programs and connections between American and Israeli state violence, agreed that Israel’s militarizing influence on the U.S. and around the world is a grave and concerning fact,” Waters said. “He also confirmed that law enforcement exchange programs with Israel facilitate the sharing of racist practices and repressive technologies that enhance and normalize mass surveillance, criminalization, racial profiling, and the violent repression of communities. But, he told me that Israel does not train US police in tactics, like those used to kill George Floyd. They don’t have to.”
Waters reiterated his support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, arguing that it was a way of “peacefully resisting Israel’s racist system of apartheid and military occupation” and that there’s no room for racism or anti-Semitism in the movement.
“I have tried in my way to stand firm in support of, not just the Palestinian cause, but many other struggles for justice around the world,” the musician concluded. “I shall continue to use my voice in our common fight for human rights, and I commit to trying to improve my awareness and sensitivity to strengthen my solidarity in pursuit of freedom from oppression and racism, and for justice and equality for all beings, everywhere.”
Israellycool blogger David Lange, who first reported on Waters’ apology, didn’t buy it.
“This is not the first time he has made anti-Semitic statements or done something construed as anti-Semitic,” Lange wrote, linking to a 2017 Israellycool YouTube video arguing why he thinks Waters is an anti-Semite.
Waters has previously been criticized for his BDS support as well as putting a Star of David on a floating pig during one of his concerts in 2013. Israeli-Arab singer Mira Awad said on a June 6 Creative Community for Peace podcast that Waters should visit Israel and engage in dialogue instead of boycotting the country.
“Don’t sit your ass there [in London] and tell me what to do with my Palestinianism and my Israeli-ism, OK?” Awad said. “Don’t tell me how to act in this complex situation. You do not teach me what to do and how to act.”