Roger Waters & the sickening wall of silence on antisemitism

September 10th, 2013 by Mark Gardner

On 18th August, Roger Waters appealed for Israel to be boycotted, and blamed Baroness Deech (Nee Fraenkel) for blocking a BBC broadcast of anti-Israel remarks by his fellow musician, Nigel Kennedy.

Roger Waters’ remark was antisemitic on two counts.

Directly, he drew attention to Baroness Deech’s maiden name, “Fraenkel”. Had her maiden name been Smith, we can be sure he would never have mentioned it.

Indirectly, he echoed the antisemitic theme that Jews run the media. He claimed that a BBC governor, whom he went out of his way to indicate was Jewish, could “solely” dictate the policies of one of the world’s foremost public broadcasters. (Presumably her alleged control involves an ongoing conspiratorial cover-up by editors, technicians, fellow governors etc.) 

Waters, nee Pink Floyd front man, left his fellow Israel-haters in a bind. They love that he demanded Israel be boycotted, but they know his “Nee Fraenkel” remark let an antisemitic cat out of the anti-Israel bag.

The Stop the War group dodged the antisemitic trap by simply omitting “Nee Fraenkel” from their coverage of Waters’ appeal, literally replacing the offending words with three dots. The rest of Waters’ appeal remained. Here is how it appeared:

Nigel Kennedy the virtuoso British violinist and violist, at The Recent Promenade Concerts at The Albert Hall in London, mentioned that Israel is apartheid. Nothing unusual there you might think, then one Baroness Deech…disputed the fact that Israel is an apartheid state and prevailed upon the BBC to censor Kennedy’s performance by removing his statement. Baroness Deech produced not one shred of evidence to support her claim and yet the BBC, non political, supposedly, acting solely on Baroness Deech’s say so, suddenly went all 1984 on us. Well!! Time to stick my head above the parapet again, alongside my brother, Nigel Kennedy, where it belongs. And by the way, Nigel, great respect man. So here follows a letter last re-drafted in July.

These days, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign is supposed to be staunchly opposed to antisemitism. Nevertheless, PSC leapt onto Roger Waters’ bandwagon, issuing a strong statement of support. Entitled “PSC condemns BBC censorship”, it uses Waters’ appeal as its basis, but tellingly only quotes him accusing the BBC of going “all 1984 on us”. It makes no mention of “Nee Fraenkel”, nor even of her Anglicised alter ego, Baroness Deech: which speaks volumes in the circumstance.

So, we are left with another antisemitic episode that goes unmentioned in the service of anti-Israel hatred. Even the verbose and egomaniacal Roger Waters appears to have nothing to say on the “Nee Fraenkel” matter. This is another silence that speaks volumes, particularly as only 17 days previously he had furiously denied being an antisemite – in response to denunciations of his Star of David flying pig (for example, see CST blog here):

I have many very close Jewish friends, one of whom, interestingly enough, is the nephew of the late Simon Wiesenthal. I am proud of that association; Simon Wiesenthal was a great man. Also I have two grandsons who, I love more than life itself, their Mother, my daughter in law, is Jewish and so, in consequence, I’m told, are they.

Waters has very close Jewish friends and grandsons. No doubt senior activists at Stop the War and Palestine Solidarity Campaign do also. How sickening, therefore, is their collective moral failing?