Here is an open letter to Roger Waters in response to his Open Letter on Facebook where he responds to claims of being called an anti-Semite.
In your Open Letter on Facebook you respond with alarm to the charges made by Rabbi Cooper of anti-Semitism and of your being “Pro Nazi”. In this letter you deny those claims and with all apparent sincerity you seek to provide examples of both your lack of bigotry as well as your progressive credentials. However, Mr. Waters, in this endeavor you fail. Why do I say that? Please read on.
First and foremost that not everything that people do can be taken as simple and non-related activities. Your support for the anti-Semitic BDS Movement DOES come into play here regardless of the fact that you do not want to discuss it in your letter. It affects anything and everything that you do in relation to the Jewish community. Putting the Star of David on that pig along with all of the other symbols of religion and state power may not have been meant as a specific anti-Semitic gesture, but doing it in Europe, with it’s so recent past attempt at genocide of the Jewish people was at best a thoughtless and insensitive thing to do. Now, couple that with your insistence on the destruction of Israel (which is the ultimate goal of BDS) and I think you can see just how people might interpret your action. Perhaps (and I only say perhaps), you didn’t realize this, but to trade in the ancient anti-Semitic meme’s of associating Jews with Pigs even if on a subconscious level is disturbing. Your response to this should certainly not be defensive if you are sincere in your claims of friendship to the Jewish people, it should rather have been apologetic. There are other ways you could have done this without using the Star of David. You did not take those, either out of insensitivity OR out of hatred.
But, let’s look at the contents of your letter which were disturbing.
First of all you say:
First I direct you to an announcement by ‘The Anti Defamation League’ an American organization, who’s declared aim is to defend Jewish people and Judaism from attack. They recently said.
“While we wish that Mr. Waters would have avoided using the Star of David, we believe there is no anti-Semitic intent here.”
I should point out that in the show, I also use the Crucifix, the Crescent and Star, the Hammer and Sickle, the Shell Oil Logo and The McDonald’s Sign, a Dollar Sign and a Mercedes sign.
Yes, you do have those symbols on the pig. But your commentary fails in your attempt to “Jew Wash” (using Jewish sources to justify an apparent bad action). Perhaps you should you have addressed just WHY the ADL expressed that they wish you had avoided the use of the Star of David and addressed your response to understanding the historical and social connotations of their wishes. Perhaps, Mr. Waters you should have offered or asked for a suggestion from them as to what could make this better. As I mentioned previously, when I heard of this my thoughts ran to a contextual rather than specific incident of your placing the Star of David on a pig, and in that context your action is reprehensible.
Then there is this:
JEW-HATING? I have many very close Jewish friends, one of whom, interestingly enough, is the nephew of the late Simon Wiesenthal. I am proud of that association; Simon Wiesenthal was a great man. Also I have two grandsons who, I love more than life itself, their Mother, my daughter in law, is Jewish and so, in consequence, I’m told, are they.
Mr. Waters… if you have to tell people that you have lots of Jewish friends and then justify it… well that smacks of the classic: “Some of my best friends are….” line. You may indeed have many Jewish friends but that doesn’t mean you don’t harbor some form of prejudice towards Jewish people. Let me give you an example. My neighbor from the Czech Republic had my wife and I over for dinner a few months ago. During the course of dinner, we were talking about politics and he mentioned something about “Sneaky Jews” who always had “Something up their sleeve” (he didn’t know I was Jewish). Immediately my wife rebuked him and somewhat embarrassed he apologized and dinner went on. He has invited us over other times since. Clearly he has no individual hatred of me as a Jew, but, also clearly he does have anti-Semitism in his “make-uip” (despite his apology). My point is that just because you may have Jewish friends or had a Jewish Daughter in law (or Jewish Grandchildren) – it doesn’t mean you don’t harbor some form of ill-will to the Jewish people in general. It just shows that you differentiate between groups and individuals.
But this part Mr. Waters…. the following part is perhaps the most damning to your letter. You write:
I have often come under attack by the pro Israel lobby because of my support for BDS, (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) which I won’t go into here, anyone interested can access a speech I made at The United Nations on the 29th November last year.
However I will say this, in a functioning theocracy it is almost inevitable that the symbol of the religion becomes confused with the symbol of the state, in this case the State of Israel, a state that operates Apartheid both within its own borders and also in the territories it has occupied and colonized since 1967.
Like it or not, the Star of David represents Israel and its policies and is legitimately subject to any and all forms of non violent protest. To peacefully protest against Israel’s racist domestic and foreign policies is NOT ANTI-SEMITIC. Your contention that because I criticize the Policies of the Israeli government I should be lumped in with the Muslim Brotherhood is risible, and again a personal affront. I have spent my whole adult life advocating separation of church and state.
Yes.. .Mr. Waters you have come under attack from those who support the Right of Israel to exist because of your outspoken support for the hateful BDS movement. What did you think was going to happen when you go against the legitimate rights to self-determination and liberation of the Jewish People in their ancestoral homeland, particularly when you support a movement and polity that rejects both history and democracy? Did you think that people would not object to this?
Your criticism of Israel and the “pro-Israel lobby” for their objections to the hypocrisy of your political claims is just so much “howling at the moon”. First of all, Israel despite your propaganda is NOT a “functioning theocracy”. If you knew anything about Israel you might realize that while Israel has underlying Jewish cultural and religious edicts at it’s base, it is no more a “Theocracy” than England, or France. It is the legitimate National Homeland of the Jewish people established in the ancestral homeland of said people.
Secondly, Israel is NOT an “Apartheid State”, and that you would use that term clearly shows that you absolutely NOTHING regarding the meaning of the term “Apartheid”. I will refer you an article (and while I realize you most likely won’t read it, it would be educational for you look at) written here: Why the “A Word” is simply not appropriate. Take a look at it, you might learn something about that false meme.
Finally, protesting against Israel’s policies is NOT inherently anti-Semitic (although the use of your rhetoric betrays this claim in your case), but protesting against Israel’s policies while supporting a polity that goes against everything that you claim to believe IS anti-Semitic.
You say you support: “Mistress Liberty.”… so where in the Palestinian Polity exactly is this “Mistress Liberty”? You support a BDS movement that seeks in all practicality to create a Palestinian State from the Jordan to Mediterranean. Are you aware of the fact that only 29% of the Palestinian Polity supports a Single Democratic State where Jews and Arabs live in equality?
And how about the fact that NEITHER of the two main political entities, The Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, not too mention other smaller parties, support this goal. Further, Hamas which won the previous Palestinian elections is a neo-fascist, theocratic party. How do you square that with your so-called defense of “Mistress Liberty”?
Moreover, IF you are indeed not anti-Semitic, perhaps then you could explain how you support the cause you claim to support ONLY in the case where you rail against the Jewish people.
In closing Mr. Waters, your progressive rhetoric aside – while the placement of the Star of David on the Pig in just the context of The Wall may not be a specific anti-Semitic gesture, when taken in the context of your overall political outlook as evidenced in this letter and in other places, betrays your intent. An artist needs to be seen in the context of his entire body of work and if your intent was to disprove anti-Semitism with your letter… You Fail.