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UK leaders slam Roger Waters’s antisemitism

“Views like this should not be given a platform,” the Labour Party leader wrote.

Roger Waters at a concert in Manchester, England, on June 10, 2023. Source: Twitter.
Roger Waters at a concert in Manchester, England, on June 10, 2023. Source: Twitter.

Roger Waters, the co-founder of the band Pink Floyd, has faced widespread criticism for Holocaust and anti-Israel imagery at his concerts. Ahead of a June 10 concert in Manchester, national and local U.K. politicians distanced themselves from the musician.

“The Labour Party stands with the Jewish community and fully condemns Roger Waters,” Labour Party leader Keir Starmer wrote to the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

“Many people will think of Roger Waters as famous for being a member of one of the most important bands in history, but he is now more synonymous with spreading deeply troubling antisemitism, and that is why I believe this show should not be allowed to go ahead,” Starmer added. “Views like this should not be given a platform.”

Michael Gove, another member of Parliament and secretary of state for leveling up, housing and communities, as well as minister for intergovernmental relations, also wrote to the Board of Deputies. 

“The government is clear that everyone has a clear and fundamental right to freedom of speech and artistic expression, so long as they remain within the boundaries set by law,” the Conservative Party’s Gove wrote. “There is also a societal expectation placed on people with a significant public profile to behave responsibly and not abuse their platform. This is an expectation of which Roger Waters is reportedly falling short.”

The show, titled “This Is Not a Drill,” took place on Saturday at the AO Arena in Manchester.

“Is anyone surprised anymore? Tonight, Roger Waters’ fans in Manchester chanted ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,’” tweeted the Campaign Against Antisemitism.

“The chant only makes sense as a call for the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state—and its replacement with a State of Palestine—and is thus an attempt to deny Jews, uniquely, the right to self-determination, which is a breach of the international definition of antisemitism,” the group wrote.

Late last month, German police opened a criminal investigation after Waters wore a Nazi-style uniform during a concert in Berlin.

At Mercedes-Benz Arena on May 17, he dressed up in a costume resembling that of an SS soldier and pretended to fire a rifle. Waters also compared the murder of Anne Frank in the Holocaust to the accidental killing in Jenin in May 2022 of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

The U.S. State Department condemned the show, saying the performance “contained imagery that is deeply offensive to Jewish people and minimized the Holocaust. The artist in question has a long track record of using antisemitic tropes to denigrate Jewish people.”

Waters’s next concert in Frankfurt on May 28 was disrupted by pro-Israel demonstrators, including one who tried to rush the stage carrying an Israeli flag.

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