NEW YORK—The New York Times hosted leading anti-Israel activist Roger Waters on Wednesday night for an hourlong discussion, in which the former Pink Floyd bassist indicated that his push to get Radiohead to cancel an upcoming concert in Israel had failed.
Waters, whose upcoming album and tour are intended to be an "exercise in resistance" against President Donald Trump, was interviewed by Times music critic Jon Pareles in front of a sold-out crowd just blocks from Trump Tower in New York City.
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Asked by the Washington Free Beacon, which was in attendance for the event, about his latest attempt to push for a boycott of Israel, Waters said that members of Radiohead "seem to have decided that they are going to go ahead and do a concert in Tel Aviv."
"I have engaged in a correspondence with Radiohead, and they seem to have decided that they are going to go ahead and do a concert in Tel Aviv," said Waters, who endorses the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement that aims to destroy the Jewish state through economic warfare.
"My personal view is that there is a valid picket line that has been organized by BDS, and I would prefer it if colleagues in my business did not cross that picket line," Waters said.
Waters defended his anti-Israel stance, stating that all he wanted was for all of his "Palestinian and Arab friends" to have "equal rights," and that he has "nothing against Jewish people."
"They should have equal rights, and that is my only beef," Waters said. "That is what I want for my Palestinian friends, nothing more."
"I am not trying to destroy Israel, I have nothing against Jewish people," Waters insisted. "They accuse me of being an anti-Semite because it is the only way they can attack this position—which is the basic position of BDS."
Despite saying that he wanted nothing more, Waters then added, "BDS goes further, they want the right to return for the refugees who were kicked out of their homes by force in 1947 and 1948, and again in 1967 after the war."
"I personally agree with that—I think that to be turfed out of where you live and where you've lived for hundreds of years is wrong," Waters said to raucous applause and a few cheers of "I agree" from the crowd at the Times event.
Waters statement that he has "nothing against Jewish people" is at odds with his past actions, such as when he flew a giant pig emblazoned with the Star of David and Nazi imagery over a 2013 concert. The stunt led to Waters being labeled as "an open hater of Jews" by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which explained that Waters was using "a classic disgusting medieval anti-Semitic caricature widely used by both Nazi and Soviet propaganda to incite hatred against Jews."
Waters has previously compared playing shows in Israel, which he describes as an "ethnic cleansing and the systematic racist apartheid Israeli regime," to playing in Nazi-controlled territory during World War II.
"For an artist to go and play in a country that occupies other people’s land and oppresses them the way Israel does, is plain wrong," Waters told Counterpunch in 2013. "I would not have played for the Vichy government in occupied France in the Second World War, I would not have played in Berlin either during this time."
The crowd appeared to align with Waters on what he was espousing on Israel, and also shared his intense vitriol against Trump.
During a short clip that was shown during the event of an anti-Trump concert Waters played in Mexico City earlier this year—in which Trump was made to appear as a Nazi and a Ku Klux Klansmen—one middle-aged man wearing a collared shirt with a sweater screamed out that Trump is "a fucking animal."
The crowd and Times moderator Pareles also nodded their heads as Waters stated his belief that the world should have no borders, that EPA chief Scott Pruitt wants to eliminate nature in the United States, and that "we all know that big pharma is constantly coming up with cheap ways to cure everything, and it is immediately suppressed because they don't make enough money."
One event-goer—a self-described "Israeli leftist" named Danny—approached the Free Beacon after the event to dispute the false statements made by Waters.
"That man is a full of shit person," Danny said.