Reading Roger Waters’ new interview with Rolling Stone to discuss his latest album, one cannot help but feel that he has a real bee in his bonnet about allegations of antisemitism leveled against him.
As a songwriter – telling stories, drawing pictures – are you trying to confront people with the truth as you see it or draw them together?
I don’t know. Half of the song “Déjá Vu” is not on the [new] record. The last verse was cut. But I quote it a lot: “If I had been God/I would not have chosen anyone/I would have laid an even hand/On all my children everyone/Would have been content/To forego Ramadan and Lent/Time better spent/In the company of friends/Breaking bread and mending nets.” A lot of people would go, “Oh, there he goes, the old anti-Semite.”Well, no. If I talk about choosing people, I’m not talking about the Jewish faith. I’m talking about all faiths – all members of different faiths.
How easy was that to take, given that you are generally the leader of your own domain?
I decided to do something different. Working with Nigel, I realized early on that though there was plenty of space for me to have ideas about things, as far as the minutiae of making a record – or even the big gestures – I was gonna go [smiles and mimics sitting on his hands], which is a new discipline.
Did you hold ultimate veto?
There are some things like that.
Are there particular musical or lyrical examples?
Yeah, tiny things. Other things that I let go were really important to me. Nigel was always very keen that we shouldn’t be specifically political about anything. I took the words “Lay down Jerusalem” out of “Déjá Vu.” The chorus used to go, “Maybe a woman at a stove/Baking bread, making rice or just boiling down some bones/Lay down Jerusalem/Lay your burden down.” There was a big thing, Nigel trying to persuade me to take any reference to Jerusalem out. “I said, ‘It’s really important.'” But he said, “People will go, ‘He’s being an anti-Semite again.’ I said, “There’s nothing anti-Semitic about it. Jerusalem is hugely important because of the Crusades, the Ottoman Empire, the British, whoever has been fighting over this place.”
But the phrase does not contain those details.
It doesn’t, of course. Obviously, Jerusalem, the place, can’t be guilty of anything. On the other hand, one feels that if Jerusalem could be peaceful – without the burden of that discontent, the fighting for faith – it would be fabulous. That’s what I’m saying in this song.
What convinced you to take the line out?
I eventually got worn down. You can make a point about something without being specific. People would misinterpret my intentions.
To be clear, I do believe Waters has crossed the line from mere criticism of Israel to fully fledged Jew hater, based on a combination of things: the infamous inflatable pig with Star of David, singling out Israel for criticism an boycott (double standards) and then changing his story as to why this is the case, talk of the Jewish lobby and comparing us to Nazis, and insinuating Helen Thomas should not have been fired for her antisemitic comments.
It is no wonder the neo Nazis love him.