White House condemns Roger Waters’ antisemitism as “hurtful to Jewish people”

Roger Waters

The White House has criticized Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters for his recent performances, labeling them as antisemitic. This stance is shared by many in Israel and the pro-Israel community.

The State Department, on behalf of the Biden administration, issued a statement on Tuesday stating that Waters has a long history of employing antisemitic tropes in his work. They specifically pointed out a concert he held in Germany last month, which they deemed offensive to Jewish people and an attempt to downplay the significance of the Holocaust.

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These comments were made in response to a question posed during a State Department press briefing regarding the opinion of U.S. special envoy Deborah Lipstadt, who has criticized Waters for his antisemitic views.

In a tweet on May 24th, following Waters’ concert in Berlin where he appeared on stage in a costume reminiscent of Nazi-era Germany, Lipstadt condemned the musician, echoing the sentiments expressed by EU antisemitism envoy Katharina von Schnurbein. Von Schnurbein had also taken issue with Waters’ performance and his previous comments related to Israel and the Holocaust.

The Berlin police subsequently opened an investigation into Waters on suspicion of incitement due to the outfit he wore during the concert. Images on social media showed Waters dressed in a long black coat with a red armband, firing an imitation machine gun. The police stated that the costume could be interpreted as glorifying or approving Nazi rule, disturbing public peace.

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Waters, however, refuted the accusations in a statement on Facebook and Instagram. He maintained that the elements of his performance in question were meant to oppose fascism, injustice, and bigotry in all its forms. He dismissed the claims that they had any other meaning as disingenuous and politically motivated.

In addition to his controversial performances, Waters has drawn criticism from the pro-Israel community for his support of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement. The BDS movement advocates for boycotts and sanctions against Israel as a means of protesting its policies towards Palestinians.

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The White House’s condemnation of Waters highlights the growing concern about antisemitism and the need to address it. By aligning themselves with Israel and the pro-Israel community, the administration sends a clear message that Waters’ actions are offensive and perpetuate harmful stereotypes about Jewish people. The controversy surrounding his performances underscores the ongoing struggle to combat antisemitism and promote tolerance and understanding.

As the discussion around this issue continues, it serves as a reminder of the importance of confronting and rejecting antisemitism in all its forms. The White House’s statement signifies a commitment to combating hate and fostering an inclusive society that respects the dignity and rights of all individuals.