Roger Waters’ Colleagues Back Up Antisemitism Claims in New Documentary
A new documentary published online by Campaign Against Antisemitism, The Dark Side of Roger Waters, explores the antisemitic nature of many of the Pink Floyd legend's words and actions throughout his career.
Waters has repeatedly been accused of antisemitism and misogyny over the years, with renewed attention being placed on it this year.
Accusations of Roger Waters' Antisemitism in 2023
In February, Polly Samson (wife of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour) tweeted that Waters is "antisemitic" to his "rotten core," also calling him a "Putin apologist" and a "lying, thieving, hypocritical, tax-avoiding, lip-synching, misogynistic, sick-with-envy, megalomaniac." Gilmour re-shared the post and noted, "Every word demonstrably true."
Later that month, one of Waters' shows in Frankfurt, Germany was canceled as the city council branded him "one of the world's most well-known antisemites." Waters refuted these claims and vowed to play in Frankfurt anyway and ultimately did after winning a legal battle.
Prior to the Frankfurt performance, officials in Berlin launched an investigation after Waters appeared onstage in a Nazi-like uniform as part of his show. The musician later issued a statement on the controversy. It's worth noting this has been a constant part of Waters' production for years.
The State Department of the U.S. also issued a response to controversies surrounding Waters, stating, "The concert in question, which took place in Berlin, contained imagery that is deeply offensive to Jewish people and minimized the Holocaust. The artist in questions has a long track record of using antisemitic tropes to denigrate Jewish People."
Roger Waters' Jewish Colleagues Recollect Musician's Antisemitic Behavior
Norbert Statchel, Waters' former saxophone player, recalls one incident where the musician openly mocked his relatives who died in the Holocaust.
Statchel claims in the documentary,
"I told him a little bit about my family background, that they're Ashkenazi Jews, that they're Holocaust survivors from Minsk and Poland. And he kind of was smiling in a kind of awkward way. He says, 'How about other relatives? Are there relatives on your father's side?' I said, 'Not that I'm aware of, I think most of them were killed.
He says, 'Oh, I can help you feel like you're meeting your long lost relatives. I'll introduce you to your dead grandmother, I can do a good Polish peasant imitation/impression.'
He went to try to go into character as a babushka and he puts on this impression of an old hag, he makes his voice a certain way, he tries to portray a Polish Jewish peasant woman's voice. It was kind of like a slapstick insulting way someone would think a person of no education and low class and maybe not real smart would speak and talk.
What got me is, after he does this, he goes, 'Now that you met your grandmother, how do you feel now?'"
The saxophonist also recalls a time he, Waters and other musicians were at a restaurant that serves Lebanese cuisine.
After about a dozen dishes came out — none with meat — Statchel alleges, "Roger kind of pushes [the dish] with his arm and he goes, 'That's it! That's it! Where's the meat? Where's the meat? What's with this? This is Jew food! What's with the Jew food? Take away the Jew food!"
Statchel also goes on to say a fellow Jewish member of Waters' "entourage" pleaded with him not to tell Waters that he was Jewish. This person also told Statchel that if he wanted to keep the job, to "just shut up about the Jewish stuff" and to just go along with what Waters says and does and not to react to it.
Bob Ezrin, famed Jewish producer who helmed Pink Floyd's The Wall, says Waters' is skilled at distorting narratives while using selective language that can serve as a rallying call for antisemites.
Waters, who claims he is not an antisemite, is entangled with antisemitic allegations quite frequently and, as noted in the documentary, frequently uses his platform to defend his words and actions.
Ezrin has a suggestion on how, if Waters is indeed not antisemitic, how he can better present his ideas as to not become entangled with such allegations.
"Leave out those tried and true tropes of antisemites over the years and equivalence between acts of Jews and the people who try to wipe them off the face of the earth. Leave out the kinds of things that inflame antisemitism and make people see us as a people as being 'other' and being 'enemies,'" Ezrin urges.
Alleged Email Shows Roger Waters' Attempted to Use Jewish Slurs on Inflatable Pig Balloon
One hallmark of Waters' concerts is a giant floating, inflatable pig with words and symbols depicted across the animal.
"I think Roger sees himself as an anti-fascist," Ezrin acknowledges, "I think Roger sees himself as someone who opposes racism and opposes totalitarianism and opposes stereotypes and all that stuff. He sees himself that way, and I think in his mind, that pig was symbolic of all the bad thinking people have about other people in the world and he assimilated it into one symbol that floats over the top of audiences at his concerts."
The documentary claims to have had access to "some of Waters' internal emails from 2010 when he was planning a worldwide tour."
Among the symbols Waters sought to include (cross, hammer and sickle, dollar signs, star and crescent), the musician wanted to include the following words/slurs and phrases, "dirty k-ke," "scum" and "follow the money" as well as the Star of David.
Ezrin maintains that antisemites in the crowd will simply see a Star of David on a pig and recognize that it conforms to their own bigoted ideology.
A Jewish lighting director took offense to this and was called out in a subsequent email regarding "the great symbol debate," as its described in the subject line.
"I gather that at least one of us is offended by the inclusion of at least one of these symbols," Waters suggested after indicating he'd like to include "religious and commercial symbols" such as "a cross, a crescent, a Star of David, a swastika, a dollar sign, a Mercedes logo, a Shell [oil company logo]."
Waters wanted these symbols to be dropped "like bombs" during the concert. The final product wound up being a plane that dropped the Star of David and dollar signs only.
"Jewish people, almost universally, will stand up and say that they see Roger Waters' actions as antisemitic [and] then he has to understand that whether he intends them to be or not, the effect of them is that," Ezrin asserts.
Watch The Dark Side of Roger Waters Documentary
Everything described above does not touch on the entirety of the claims and allegations of Waters' antisemitism covered in The Dark Side of Roger Waters.
Watch the complete documentary by the Campaign Against Antisemitism directly below.