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Jewish organisations call for German venues to cancel Roger Waters shows over antisemitism allegations

Jewish organisations call for German venues to cancel Roger Waters shows over antisemitism allegations

German concert venues have faced calls to cancel events with Roger Waters amid claims of antisemitism.

Last week, Frankfurt city council called off a performance by the Pink Floyd artist scheduled for 28 May, alleging that Waters was “considered one of the most far-reaching antisemites in the world”.

A number of politicians and Jewish organisations have also criticised Waters for his statements about Israel. In 2013, the artist compared the Israeli government’s “oppression” of the Palestinian people with the actions of the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Waters’ This is Not a Drill tour includes five scheduled concerts in Germany this May.

In Frankfurt, Waters had been booked to perform at Festhalle, on the site of a former Jewish detention camp during World War II.

The council noted that the site’s history, as a location where 3,000 Jewish men were detained before being sent to concentration camps in 1938, had made the prospect of Rogers performing there especially inappropriate.

“The background to the cancellation is the persistent anti-Israel behaviour of the former Pink Floyd frontman, who is considered one of the most widely spread antisemites in the world,” the council said in a statement, per the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“He repeatedly called for a cultural boycott of Israel and drew comparisons to the apartheid regime in South Africa and put pressure on artists to cancel events in Israel.”

Waters had previously criticised the “Israel lobby” for trying to “silence” him.

German culture minister Claudia Roth told Jüdische Allgemeine newspaper (per The Times): “I deeply regret the development of a musician who had great significance for many with the band Pink Floyd.”

She went on to urge venues not to book Waters’ performances, stating: “And if they do still take place, that he plays in empty halls.”

Roger Waters pictured in 2019 (AFP via Getty Images)
Roger Waters pictured in 2019 (AFP via Getty Images)

In a recent interview with the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, Waters discussed the allegations of antisemitism and addressed his controversial remarks about Ukraine, claiming that Russia’s war was “probably the most provoked invasion ever”.

The artist shared the interview online alongside a heading that read: “the truth will set us free.”

In a comment, Waters condemned the “outrageous and despicable smear campaign to denounce me as an antisemite, which I am not, never have been and never will be”.

The 79-year-old said the criticism came “because I lend my voice to the 75-year-old fight for equal human rights for all my brothers and sisters in Palestine/Israel”. He also affirmed that he stood by his past comparison of the Israeli state to Nazi Germany because “the Israelis are committing genocide”.

The Independent has contacted Waters’ representative for comment.

Earlier this year, Pink Floyd lyricist Polly Samson accused Waters of antisemitism amid an online row over Israel and the Ukraine war.

Waters responded on his official account saying he was “aware of the incendiary and wildly inaccurate comments made about him on Twitter by Polly Samson which he refutes entirely”, adding: “He is currently taking advice as to his position.”