German broadcasters drop Roger Waters tour over support for Israel boycott

Roger Waters is a leading advocate for Palestinian rights

German broadcasters drop Roger Waters tour over support for Israel boycott

Legendary Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters performs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, 02-10-2017. Image: Igor Vidyashev/Zuma Press/PA Images

German public broadcasters have dropped their plans to broadcast two concerts by Pink Floyd legend Roger Waters over his support of a Palestinian-led boycott targeting Israel.

The musician is a member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) that targets Israel over its occupation and colonisation of Palestinian lands.

The creative mind behind much of Pink Floyd's most famous work, Waters is embarking on a European tour that includes dates in Berlin and Cologne - before his much-anticipated return to the Three Arena in Dublin.

Five German broadcasters have dropped their plans to broadcast the concerts following complaints from Malca Goldstein-Wolf, a Jewish resident of Cologne, who compared the boycott to the Nazi-era slogan, 'Do not buy from the Jews.'

Ms Goldstein-Wolf also started an online petition calling on the broadcasters to pull their support of the concerts.

Antisemitism allegations

One of the broadcasters, RBB, which is part of the national ARD network, said it had pulled out of the broadcast “in reaction to antisemitism accusations" against Waters.

RBB director Patricia Schlesinger said the decision was a message to other artists who refuse to perform in Israel, adding that “taking a clear position here is an important signal for RBB to the Jewish communities in Berlin and Brandenburg.”

Palestinian rights

The BDS movement was launched in 2005 as a non-violent means of pressuring Israel into ending its 50-year-old occupation of Palestinian territory and other abuses of Palestinian rights while supporting Palestine's struggle for freedom, justice and equality

Waters joined the  movement in 2011. He has made it clear on numerous occasions that he opposes the Israeli regime rather than the Jewish faith - and has outlined his views on the treatment of the Palestinians in front of the UN.

Waters’ tour director, Marek Lieberberg called the broadcasters' decision “absolutely ridiculous.”

Speaking to Germany's Mannheimer Morgennewspaper, he said the surge in support for the far-right Alternative for Germany party showed German Jews were right to be concerned about “clearly visible and growing antisemitism” in the country but argued that Waters “has a right to freedom of opinion.”

The ARD has already faced accusations of anti-Semitism this year after one of its regional subsidiaries WDR it commissioned a film on present-day abuses against Jews in Europe - before pulling it amid allegations it had a pro-Israeli bias.

The decision led to a public backlash and the broadcaster eventually aired the documentary.

Roger Waters brings his Us + Them Tour to Dublin on June 26th 2018.