Legendary English rocker Roger Waters, born in 1943, cofounded the iconic group Pink Floyd in 1965 and stayed in it until 1985. Since then, while sometimes reuniting with other Pink Floyd members, he’s mainly pursued a solo career.
Waters is a pop star on a gigantic scale. Pink Floyd, for which he was the main songwriter, has sold over 250 million albums across the globe. Waters’s worldwide tour The Wall Live, which he began in 2010, sold over 1.4 million tickets in the first half of 2012, making it the international leader for all categories of concerts.
Like many pop stars, Waters has taken up causes. In 2009 he called the Israeli security fence in the West Bank an “obscenity” that “should be torn down.” He never got around to criticizing the waves of Palestinian suicide bombings and other terror attacks, which killed 1500 Israelis and wounded many thousands more, that prompted the building of the fence in the first place.
In 2011 Waters announced he had joined the anti-Israeli Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Consisting of Palestinian NGOs and leftist supporters, BDS favors a “one-state solution” whereby Israel would cease to exist.
Waters has been quite active in BDS. In a November 2012 speech to the UN he accused Israel—a member of the exclusively democrat OECD and rated a “Free” country by Freedom House—of “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid,” and “international crimes.” Last August he published an open letter calling on other musicians to “declare a cultural boycott on Israel,” citing Stevie Wonder’s cancellation of a concert in Israel as a success story.
Waters, it goes without saying, does not call for a boycott of any other country on the globe. He has recently played concerts in human rights beacons like Russia, China, and Turkey without raising a peep of protest. Does all this—not least the scurrilous claim of “apartheid”—qualify him as an antisemite? In general, the Jewish world gave him the benefit of the doubt and refrained from making that charge.
That is, until an incident last July.