Barely a sequel but related nevertheless to wde’s latest entry.
In Raving on stage: Concert by Roger Waters ends in scandal, Berliner Zeitung author Frank Junghänel, submits a commentary posing almost as a concert review. He has something to say about the blurry line between the criticism of the policies of the State of Israel and anti-semitism and last night’s performance by Roger Waters at the, cough, Mercedes Benz Arena is somewhere in his sights.
Caveat lector: This is my translation. My comment on/at the original follows:
Berlin – When Roger Waters pulls out a piece of paper before the encore, on which he wrote down a few comments, one cannot not expect the usual. Being in Berlin again is not his agenda. In Vienna, he protested against the shift to the right in Europe, for which he made the Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz partially responsible, in Zurich he criticized affluent Swiss society – and it was always about Palestine.
Waters denounces Israeli policy
Wherever Waters appears these days, he uses the stage to denounce Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. You have to be prepared for that. Before the concert, a small group of BDS activists distributed leaflets at the entrance to the hall. “Dear Roger Waters,” is says, “We, your fans of BDS Berlin, are pleased that you stand with us for the rights of the Palestinians…”
The co-founder of rock band Pink Floyd has been considered by some activists of the organization for several years a prominent spokesman for anti-Israeli movements such as “Artists for Palestine” or BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) calling for a cultural and economic boycott of the country. As presented by some of its activists, it has anti-Semitic undertones. Because of this commitment, five ARD institutions, including the RBB [state sanctioned, compulsory fee-payer funded broadcasting in Germany], had decided in November to neither promote nor broadcast the concerts of the Water’s tour of Germany.
Roger Waters is well informed about German domestic politics
The speech, which the as aggressive as he is controversial musician held on Friday evening in the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin at the end of his (fantastic) concert, has confirmed those fears. He hears that there is a new Federal Anti-Semitism Commissioner, Waters begins. He even wrote down his name: Felix Klein. Great, really great. “Anti-Semitism is obscene”, he theatrically calls out to the audience in order then to get into an approximately furious five-minute speech, the content of which one can hardly follow.
He calls on “this Felix Klein” no longer to criminalize the BDS, referring to the Declaration of Human Rights at the Paris UN Conference of 1948: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” So also the Palestinians. In the hall, PLO banners are occasionally swung. But there are also hisses when Waters begins to read a message of the day, in which the arbitrariness of the Israeli settlers against the population in the West Bank is discussed. Some people leave the hall. Then comes the last song of the evening, “Comfortably Numb”. Cheers, applause, lights on.
With Felix Klein, Roger Waters chose the right addressee for his tirade. It’s amazing how well informed he is about German domestic politics. “I consider BDS an antisemitic current whose activities I strongly condemn,” the anti-Semitism commissioner had recently said in an interview with the Jüdische Allgemeine [a German Jewish newspaper] “With its call to boycott Israel, it uses patterns of argument from the time of the Nazis, which is simply unbearable.”
Fluid boundaries toward manifest hatred of Jews
Roger Waters is free to criticize Israel’s repressive policies towards the Palestinians. Many Israelis also do that, including prominent writers and even former intelligence chiefs. But at BDS, the boundaries between alleged criticism of the Israeli occupation and manifest hatred of Jews are fluid. In September, the BDS had urged Arabian musicians to cancel performances at the publicly-funded Pop Culture Festival in Berlin, because Jewish artists were also invited, whose flight costs were paid for by the Israeli embassy. Waters also repeatedly presses artists into not appearing in Israel, such as the band Radiohead or the musician Nick Cave, but they have not allowed themselves to be instrumentalized like that. [Well ain’t that a hoot?! More in my comment below]
Show based on classic Pink Floyd albums
Until this unworthy conclusion, the more than two-hour concert had gone off without a hitch. Even the notorious flying pig was no cause for alarm. When it emerged five years ago at Olympic Stadium next to the dollar sign, adorned with among other things also the Star of David, it led to protests by Jewish organizations. It bore the inscription: “Stay Human”.
Conceptually, 74-year-old Roger Waters’ show was based on the classic Pink Floyd albums “The Dark Side Of The Moon” and “Animals,” as well as pieces from his solo album “Is This The Real We Really Want” released last year. The surround-sound in the hall was excellent, the light show was terrific, all the way to the finale, a laser pyramid shining in prisms of light appeared above the audience. There were the hits like “Wish You Were Here”, “Money” and “Another Brick In The Wall” with a dozen Berlin girls on stage who bestowed a humane, life-affirming dimension to the for the most part perfectly orchestrated agitprogrock that included the vilification of Trump and the denunciation of war. It could have been one last great evening with the everlasting music of Pink Floyd. It was. But then Roger Waters took the note out of his pocket.
About which I had this to say, also my translation, though this time, likely more accurate all around: