Former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters released a video on March 9 calling on musician Stevie Wonder to refuse an award from Israel. The award, known as the Wolf Prize, is given to those who have made outstanding contributions to the arts and sciences. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin announced on February 9 that Wonder and Australian composer Olga Neuworth would be receiving the award.
Waters pointed out in his video that Wonder canceled a 2013 scheduled performance at a fundraising gala for the Friends of Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) and that he expects Wonder to do the same with the award. Wonder said at the time he was canceling because of the “very delicate situation in the Middle East”; groups like the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (known today as the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian rights) had been urging Wonder to cancel at the time.
“This is an apartheid regime,” Water said. “This is Israel. You will be whitewashing them beyond all belief.” He then acknowledged that he “wasn’t making much sense” and “rambling” after having nearly a full glass of wine.
.@steviewonder, with respect, you turned down Haim Saban’s IDF fundraiser in 2012. Please turn down Israel’s @WolfPrize_ in 2021.
— Roger Waters (@rogerwaters) March 9, 2021
Jewish and pro-Israel activists denounced Waters. “Where is Roger’s condemnation of Muslims being tortured in modern day camps in China? The famine happening in Yemen?” Liora Rez, director of Stop Antisemitism.org, said in a statement to the Journal. “This man’s obsessive condemnations are reserved only for Jews. Waters is an embarrassment to the entertainment community and for anyone to take him seriously in 2021 is laughable.”
Israellycool blogger David Lange quipped that Waters is “doing what he seems to loves [sic] most. Spreading lies against #Israel — and drinking alcohol.”
Bully @RogerWaters doing what he seems to loves most. Spreading lies against #Israel – and drinking alcohol https://t.co/3EzluXTAAN
— (((David Lange))) 🇮🇱🇦🇺 (@Israellycool) March 9, 2021
Waters has come under fire for calling the late philanthropist Sheldon Adelson the “puppet master” over his ties to the Trump administration in June 2020 — which he issued an apology over — as well as for putting a Star of David on an inflatable pig in 2013. Waters also supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
David Draiman, lead singer of the heavy metal band Disturbed, has called the 2013 incident “blatantly anti-Semitic” and has criticized Waters’ support of BDS. “The very notion that Waters and the rest of his Nazi comrades decide that this is the way to go ahead and foster change is absolute lunacy and idiocy,” Draiman told a Disturbed Facebook fan page in May 2019. “It makes no sense whatsoever. It’s only based on hatred of a culture and of a people in a society that has been demonized unjustifiably since the beginning of time.”
Waters has previously defended himself from accusations of anti-Semitism by stating that his daughter-in-law is Jewish, making his grandchildren Jewish by default. He also claimed that he has used various other symbols — including a dollar sign and a hammer and sickle — on his inflatable pigs.