RABBI SHMULEY: Roger Waters’s Hatred Eclipses His Talent

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 13: Former Pink Floyd member, Roger Waters, attends a protest by the We Stand With Shaker campaign group to highlight the situation of Shaker Aamer, the last Briton to be detained in Guantanamo Bay, outside the U.S embassy on February 13, 2015 in London, England. The …
Carl Court/Getty

Every now and then, former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters rises like a ghost from the depths of his own depravity to spew his blatant Jew-hatred shamelessly across the airwaves. He can’t help it.

Like a belch that cannot be suppressed, Waters’s dislike of Jews consumes his being and cannot be held down. Like Haley’s comet with hair gel, he seems to take another pass at our attention every time we, understandably, forget that he exists.

Waters’s musical talent was long ago surpassed in the public mind by his antisemitism. And in terms of keeping him in the public conversation, it works.

This time, he found a new way to attack the Jewish State: its supposedly Nazi-like use of ‘propaganda.’

In an hour long Q&A session with Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) founder Omar Barghouti, Waters admitted that when thinking about the situation in Israel, he finds it “hard not to go back to [Joseph] Goebbels,” the Nazi propaganda minister. “[Israels] tactic is to tell the big lie as often as possible over and over and over again.”

Goebbels, of course, rallied a nation to commit the greatest slaughter in the history of mankind, thereby enabling it, and did so by enforcing an iron grip over an entirely state-governed press. Israel has a free press that never hesitates to criticize its government, and is the only full democracy in the entire Middle East. Somehow, one reminds Waters of the other.

As preposterous as his comparisons are, however, they aren’t new. In 2013, Waters compared Israel and its Rabbinate to the Nazis, saying they believed that all non-Jews are “sub human” and that the “parallels with what went on in the 30s in Germany are … crushingly obvious.” He also compared artists who perform in Israel to those who performed in Berlin during the Second World War.

His abominable hatred for the Jewish people has also gone far beyond his words. In 2013 Waters masqueraded as a Nazi in one of his concerts. Flanked by long draping banners, Waters’s outfit was complete with a slick leather jacket, a red arm-band, and an MP40 Schmeisser —  the iconic Nazi machine gun used extensively by Axis powers throughout WWII. To resolve any doubts as to the performer’s clear antisemitism, at the very same concert, the audience found itself orbited by a massive balloon in the shape of a pig and stamped with a Star-of-David. These schemes were featured at Waters’s concerts in Belgium and the Netherlands, countries where over 130,000 Jews were murdered by the Nazis.

I am writing this column from a five-nation Holocaust education tour with my family.

We are currently in Austria, where we just saw the birthplace of Adolf Hitler in Branau-an-Inn. The Austrian government is debating whether or not to destroy the landmark. Witnessing the places where my people were annihilated has been an excruciating but necessary journey, made all the more poignant by the existence of people like Waters in the year 2017. That a music icon can be so consumed with hatred of the Jewish people that he would compare them to the Germans who murdered six million Jews during the Second World War gives you an idea of the level of uncontrollable loathing that has gripped this man.

Waters has limited his concern for human rights only to Israel. Indeed, he is a full-on collaborator with the serial human rights propagandists in China, who just allowed a Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in captivity.

China is an oppressive state that is estimated to have executed more people in 2016 than the rest of the world combined. Censorship and state-sponsored propaganda are a part of daily life, with China named by Freedom House as “one of the worldmost restrictive media environments.” China has also been occupying Tibet for sixty-seven years, brutalizing both the people and their sacred landscape, which has been torn apart in recent years by China’s mad campaign of mineral mining. When the people of Tibet tried to protest the desecration of their holy sites for gold extraction in October 2013, they were fired upon by mining officials, with four murdered and over fifty injured.

Of course, none of that stopped Roger Waters from cashing in on the Chinese mega-market. Not only does Waters not interfere with other artists’ performances in China, he played there himself in in 2007.

In an act of astounding hypocrisy, Waters has even actively joined forces with Chinese propaganda institutions. In 2007, just months before Waters’ Shanghai concert, the National Ballet of China put on its first modern-themed dance show, “The Pink Floyd Ballet.” The ballet, produced by Waters, the rest of his band, and French Choreographer Roland Petite in 1972, became an official piece of a renowned Chinese avenue for propaganda.

For those who don’t know, the National Ballet was run in its early years by Madame Mao, the wife of the Chairman, and was one of her favorite methods of Marxist indoctrination. Throughout the Cultural Revolution, the dance troupe repeatedly played eight Marxist-themed shows, the most famous being The Red Detachment of Women, which depicts the brutal shooting of a “tyrant: by a platoon of Communist women — all through interpretive dance. The National Ballet had a monopoly on Chinese musical theatre, and its eight shows were the only presentations allowed in a nation of eight hundred million people. These shows weren’t just permitted, but were also propaganda, forced into the minds of the Chinese. According to Joan Acocella of the New Yorker, “When [the Chinese people] turned on the radio, this was the music they heard. When they went outside, this was what was coming out of the loudspeakers in the streets.”

These plays are still performed by the Ballet for the people of China and are recommended for anyone who wants to see ballerinas leap across the stage in military uniforms, equipped with rifles. They also serve the express intent of the Chinese government to glamorize the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s for today’s Chinese audiences, when it was in fact a repressive campaign that saw the deaths of up to two million Chinese, the persecution of tens of millions, and even 137 cases of cannibalism on the part of communist activists.

It is pretty clear that the Chinese National Ballet is a perfect case study of government propaganda. Not only does Waters fail to oppose them, he offers them full collaboration.

Waters has performed shows in countries run by some more of the world’s most criminal regimes. Russia, too, is ranked as one of the countries with the least freedom of the press, and political dissidents are regularly shot dead in the streets of Moscow, one just a block from the Kremlin. Waters’s response to this injustice: sold-out shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg, grossing nearly three-and-a-half million dollars in revenue. 

He also performed in Turkey in 2006 and 2013, in the United Arab Emirates in 2007, and in Venezuela in 2002, while Hugo Chavez was still in power.

Waters follows in a long tradition of antisemites who espouse vile hatred of the Jewish people,while cashing in on their hypocrisy and stamping on human rights.

For all that, those who attend his concerts and enrich this hater ought to perhaps embrace what he calls for against Israel: a boycott of a man whose hatred long ago consumed any artistic talent.

Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is founder of The World Values Network and is the international best-selling author of 31 books. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


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