An open letter to Roger Waters

We want to help you understand the harm and offense you are causing our community.

Musician Roger Waters during his show at Engenhão Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2006. Credit: A.PAES/Shutterstock.
Musician Roger Waters during his show at Engenhão Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2006. Credit: A.PAES/Shutterstock.
Gary Mond. Credit: Courtesy.
Gary Mond
Gary Mond is chairman of the National Jewish Assembly.

Dear Mr. Waters,

The National Jewish Assembly (NJA) is a representative conduit for communicating the views of British Jewry to government and other decision-makers on the three key pillars of promoting Jewish life, supporting Israel and fighting antisemitism.

The NJA writes to you out of profound disagreement with your recent statement, issued on May 26 via social media, in which you attempted to defend yourself against credible accusations of flirtation with antisemitism.

You stated that your recent performance in Berlin has attracted criticism from those who seek to “smear and silence” you because of your political views and moral principles. You argue that your performances are clearly against fascism, injustice and bigotry. Yet the appropriation of Holocaust victim Anne Frank’s memory and your choice to wear a Nazi SS-style uniform on stage—in Berlin no less—is an action that reeks of disregard for historical context and sensitivity to the victims of the Nazi regime.

You claim that attempts to portray these elements as antisemitic are “disingenuous and politically motivated.” However, it is essential for you to understand that by equating Israel with the Nazis, you not only engage in gross historical revisionism but also employ rhetoric that is deeply offensive and hurtful to many Jews and others, who regard this comparison as trivializing the Holocaust’s unprecedented atrocities.

You cite your family history and the impact of World War II, stating that “the name of Anne Frank was often spoken in our house.” It is paradoxical, then, that you chose to exploit the memory of this very same young girl, who became a symbol of the horrific genocide against the Jews, to paint Israel as a fascist state. This is antithetical to promoting justice or standing against bigotry.

Your belief in speaking out against authoritarianism and oppression is noble. However, your stunts and politically charged displays often stray into the realm of antisemitic tropes and a biased stance against Israel. Your financial support for individuals and organizations associated with antisemitism and your insinuations about an alleged Jewish conspiracy of global control only amplify these concerns.

While you may view your actions as a mere critique of the Israeli government, the symbolism and rhetoric you use carry powerful historical baggage that is inseparable from antisemitism directed towards Jews as a whole. The line between anti-Zionism and antisemitism is often thin and blurred, and your actions are, at the very least, navigating dangerously close to it and all too often crossing it.

There is an imperative to engage in political discourse responsibly, accurately and in a manner that does not incite further division and harm. By taking such a pernicious, ahistorical, one-sided view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, you are not helping to resolve it—you are fanning the flames of hatred and misunderstanding, and contributing to a broader animosity.

You have a powerful platform, Mr. Waters, and with it comes the responsibility to use it wisely. The NJA urges you to reconsider your approach, exercise greater sensitivity towards the historical realities of the Holocaust and its enduring impact on the Jewish people and promote dialogue and understanding rather than division. Ignoring the intransigence of the Palestinian leadership, which is all too willing to act against the interests of peace in favor of corruption and extremism, does nothing to ameliorate the situation.

We extend our hand to you in the spirit of openness and a willingness to help you understand the harm and offense you are causing our community. Should you be willing to speak with us about these matters, we would gladly welcome you to address our organization.


The National Jewish Assembly


The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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