Roger Waters Says He Has ‘Never Done or Spoken a Single Anti-Semitic Word or Act in My Entire Life’

"How can criticizing the Israeli policy of occupation and apartheid ‑ which is what they’re operating — how can you call that anti-Semitic?"
September 2, 2020
LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 20: Musician Roger Waters performs during his Us + Them Tour at Staples Center on June 20, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Musician Roger Waters said in an Aug. 29 interview with Al Jazeera that he has never uttered any anti-Semitic statements in his entire life.

Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Al Jazeera English’s senior international correspondent, asked Waters about those who call him anti-Semitic because of his support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Waters said he joined the movement because Palestinians have been asking for “basic human rights.” He then added that he’s not anti-Semitic.

“I’ve never done or spoken a single anti-Semitic word or act in my entire life, or had an anti-Semitic thought in my head in my entire life,” the former Pink Floyd bassist said. “The propaganda machine that the Israelis run is huge. They spend millions and millions and millions of dollars every year trying to spread this lie that anybody that speaks against Israeli government policy is an anti-Semite.”

Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement that was founded in 1959 and expanded over the next several decades, the BDS movement urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law, the Brookings Institution wrote in January.

Abdel-Hamid proceeded to ask Waters about those who say that he has contradictory views because Waters frequently criticizes the Israeli occupation of the West Bank but not the Russian occupation of the Crimea. Waters replied that the two circumstances are different, arguing that 98% of Crimean residents preferred the Russian government over the Western-backed Ukrainian government before annexation.

“You cannot talk about the 70-year-old Israeli occupation of Palestine and the relatively recent annexation or change of power in the Crimea in the same breath,” Waters said. “They are entirely different things … it’s not as if the Palestinians in 1948 suddenly said, ‘Can you send down a load of Jewish people from northeastern Europe please to throw us out of our homes and 700,000 of us and tell us that we have to get off the land because they are going to make a Jewish state here and they don’t want us?’ ”

Abdel-Hamid then asked Waters about those who have criticized former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as being anti-Semitic. Waters decried the allegations against Corbyn as a “smear campaign,” speculating that the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs conjured up the allegations to derail Corbyn’s campaign to become prime minister of Great Britain.

“They did it very, very successfully and they succeeded in destroying him,” Waters said.

He proceeded to argue that Corbyn should have resigned from the party when Labour’s ruling body adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism in 2018.

“Anybody with a heart or soul should have resigned at that point because it is such patent nonsense,” Waters said. “How can criticizing the Israeli policy of occupation and apartheid ‑ which is what they’re operating — how can you call that anti-Semitic? That would be like calling criticism of the South African administration before the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa anti-Christian.”

Waters also criticized current Labour Party leader Keir Starmer for agreeing to a settlement in July with seven whistleblowers who accused the party of enabling anti-Semitism under Corbyn in a 2019 BBC “Panorama” documentary. At the time of the documentary’s release, Labour accused the whistleblowers of having a “personal and political axes to grind” and alleged that John Ware, the journalist behind the documentary, fabricated quotes and “knowingly promulgated falsehoods.” This prompted a defamation lawsuit against the party, and Ware reportedly is planning to sue Corbyn personally over the matter.

“These are rabid Zionists and they are involved in a huge smokescreen to cover up the vile war crimes that are being orchestrated every single day against people of Palestine by an administration in the state of Israel and that has been going on for 70 years,” Waters said.

In response to Waters’ assertion that he isn’t anti-Semitic, pro-Israel Twitter user Claire Voltaire tweeted out an i24 News video stating that Waters’ “record of Jew-hatred” includes his concerts featuring inflatable pigs with a Star of David and dollar signs on them and Waters calling Zionism “an ugly stain on the world that must be removed.”


Israellycool blogger David Lange tweeted, “Go home @RogerWaters, you’re drunk.”

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