TEL AVIV – Former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters compared the Israeli government to Nazi Germany, saying Israel is “the worst regime in the world,” during an hour-long Q&A session over the weekend led by Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement leader Omar Barghouti.
Throughout the conversation, Waters made several bombastic statements.
“I think that artists who say that they can somehow improve the situation by going and playing in Israel and having conversations with Israeli artists are wrong,” said Waters.
“I’ll tell you why I think they’re wrong, and that is because there are many, many Israeli Jews who are part of the BDS movement … and any of those people will say, ‘No, I don’t want to sit around a campfire with you, what I want you to do is not cross the picket line.’”
Waters added that it was impossible to hold a conversation with “a population that have largely been under a state of living in propaganda 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all their lives since they were born.”
As the Jerusalem Post noted, Waters never bothered explaining how it is that the Israelis he considers are worthy of talking – i.e. those who support the BDS movement – had successfully escaped the “propaganda.”
Waters, who is at the forefront of a campaign to culturally boycott Israel, made another appeal during the session to fellow artists not to perform in the Jewish state. Several pro-Israel advocates who were listening to the chat charged him with being a hypocrite and an anti-Semite, and some of them informed the singer that they were taking part in the session from a Guns N’ Roses concert taking place at the same time in Tel Aviv.
Waters’ most recent target is the band Radiohead, which is scheduled to play in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. Waters told the band to “think again” about playing in a country “where a system of apartheid has been imposed on the Palestinian people.”
Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, however, said he refused to be “bullied” by people like Waters who “sh*t at us in public,” according to an interview he gave to Rolling Stone magazine.
Waters told Barghouti that as an “apartheid” nation, Israel is heading toward becoming a “pariah state.”
When asked if describing Israel as such would insult victims of South Africa’s apartheid era, Waters retorted that anyone who would react that way was “entirely ignorant.”
“It’s hard not to go back to [Joseph] Goebbels,” he said, referring to the Nazi minister of propaganda. “[Israel’s] tactic is to tell the big lie as often as possible over and over and over again.”
It wasn’t the first time the singer has drawn comparisons between Israel and the Third Reich.
As for Americans, Waters said, “They’ve been living in this constant state of hasbara created by AIPAC and the Israeli lobby in the United States – all of them, their whole life.”
However, the singer added that even though he despises President Donald Trump, he would never consider boycotting U.S. performances since it wasn’t the same thing.
“If I didn’t play in the U.S. it would have absolutely no effect on American foreign policy,” he said. “Boycott is a very specific strategy and tactic that you can use as a tool of protest in very certain specific situations … it’s a realistic tactic to affect the government and the people of Israel.”
Waters made no mention of how his boycott or anyone else’s has impacted Israel’s foreign or domestic policy.
When asked by Barghouti why he didn’t come to the defense of people suffering in more tyrannical regimes around the world, Waters’ shocking response was that aren’t any.
“I’m not sure there are any much harsher regimes around the world, actually, if you look at it,” he said.
As an afterthought, he added that he is “particularly concerned” about Syria, but didn’t walk back his prior comment by saying that perhaps the killing of close to half a million people at the hands of the Assad regime might just qualify as a worse violation of human rights than Israel’s.
He also said he “very concerned about Ukraine,” but that he didn’t wish to “demonize the Russians.”