I take pride in being able to catch antisemites and Israel haters in a lie – heck, I have a whole section of this website devoted to it. So I am a bit disappointed I didn’t think to do what a blogger by the name of David Seidenberg did, if only for the fact I am very familiar with the story Roger Waters has been peddling for a while about fans at his 2006 concert in Israel (as someone who watches all of his videos to pick them apart).
It goes like this:
“They spent the whole night going like they do,” Waters said, pantomiming fans enthusiastically waving their arms in the air, “until we got to the end of the evening, when I said — I stood up in front of all that, and said, ‘You are the generation of young Israelis who must make peace with your brothers and sisters in the neighborhood and bring in a new era of ‘etcetera etcetera etcetera.’ And they went from, [here, Waters waved his arms again overhead] to ‘what the fuck’s he talking about?’ [here, Waters crossed his arms and scowled] – in a heartbeat. And it was one of the most chilling sights I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Here’s what David Seinberg writes:
This vignette of 60,000 Israelis going from cheering wildly to scowling in silence when urged to make peace seemed to sum up everything Waters thought we needed to know about Israel.
But to me, the story seemed suspicious. 60,000 people instantly reacting the same way to any political issue is improbable enough, but 60,000 Israelis? Impossible, especially when the audience would have included supporters of Neve Shalom as well as Palestinian Israelis.
It took me a few days and the help of Israeli friends to locate an audio recording of the 2006 concert. What happened at the moment Waters mentioned peace-making was pretty much the opposite of what Waters described.
“We can’t lose this opportunity to thank you all so much for coming to Neve Shalom, the village of peace,” Waters says, to wild cheering. “It means a great deal to them, and also to me.” More wild cheering. “And, I may be speaking out of turn, but I believe that we, the rest of the world, need this generation of Israelis to tear down the walls and to make peace with their neighbors.”
Here the cheering grows even louder.
“We love you for it, and we hope to come back.”
You can listen for yourself starting at 2:01:30.
In real life, Waters’ words of peace were met with the same verve and joy as his music.
Since at least 2017, Waters has been repeating his lie. He told it to an interviewer from the Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany’s largest dailies. He told it to Liberation News, a socialist newspaper. He told it at a Vancouver event in October 2017 to promote Canada’s participation in BDS.
A 2011 interview with Al-Jazeera proves that Waters wasn’t simply misremembering. After Al-Jazeera shows a video clip of that exact moment in the concert, Waters affirms that the audience was “extraordinarily enthusiastic.” He adds, “there were [only]one or two [negative] responses to [his call for peace] saying, who does he think he is coming here and telling us what we should be doing?” and then he praises the Israeli peace movement.
Afterwards, I kept replaying Waters’ 2019 revisionist version of the story in my head. The gist of his message was that Israeli society is monolithic. That all Israelis reject peace and don’t care about what happens to Palestinians. That if you appeal to Jewish Israelis’ humanity (because Palestinian Israelis are invisible in Waters’ reality), you will experience “one of the most chilling sights” you’ll ever see.
Telling his listeners about the passion for peace his Israeli audience expressed could sustain hope and open-mindedness. But the story he told could only breed unquestioning hatred, not just hatred of Israel the state, but of all Israelis.
David Seidenberg then asks:
Why did Waters lie? I don’t have an answer, but I do know that Waters is peddling hatred, clothed in the velvet robes of caring for the downtrodden.
Here is where I do have the answer: Waters is lying because that’s what he does to generate hate against Israel and the Jewish people.
And he does that because he is an antisemite.