Roger Waters Comes Under Fire For Alleged Anti-Semitic Stage Show

Evan Petersen

by Evan Petersen

Published July 25, 2013

After recent allegations of anti-Semitism surfaced, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group, has come out against former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters' use of a giant inflatable pig in his stage show. The pig is inscribed with symbols and images including a Star of David, and was released into the air at his Belgium show July 18th.

Watch video of the pig in question:

The pig balloon is released during the song "Run Like Hell," and features images associated with dictatorships and corruption, including the hammer and sickle and a silhouette of the infamous Saigon Execution. The association of the Star of David with these images has led some to accuse Waters of anti-Semitism.

An Israeli concertgoer in Belguim described his outrage to Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot:

I came to the concert because I really like his music, without any connection to his political stance toward Israel. And I had a lot of fun, until I noticed the Star of David, on the inflatable pig. That was the only religious-national symbol which appeared among other symbols for fascism, dictatorships and oppression of people. Waters crossed the line and gave expression to an anti-Semitic message, beyond all his messages of anti-militancy.

Speaking to The Algemeiner, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, had this to say: "With this disgusting display Roger Waters has made it crystal clear. Forget Israel, never mind ‘limited boycotts promoting Middle East Peace.’ Waters is an open hater of Jews.”

However, not every Jewish advocacy group believes the display was anti-Semitic. Todd Gutnick, Director of Media Relations for the Anti-Defamation League explained his views of the show's context:

The song is ‘Run Like Hell’ from Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall.’ The song is written from the point of view of the anti-hero, ‘Pink,’ during a hallucination in which he becomes a fascist dictator and turns a concert audience into an angry mob. True to form, Waters appears dressed for the part. It is a concert tradition going back years that during this song an inflatable pig is released into the air. For this most recent tour, the pig appears to have numerous symbols, including a hammer, dollar signs, and sickle and a small Star of David. In the film version of “The Wall,” the mob raids and destroys the homes of Black and Jewish people, so the use of the Jewish and other symbols on the pig is consistent with the lyrics of the song.

Whether or not the display is motivated by any sort of prejudice is unclear, but Waters is a vocal activist and supporter of movements against Israel, including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. He has not yet released a statement responding to the criticism.

Pink Floyd Roger Waters
British Rock Classic Rock Rock
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