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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Howard J. Kopel petitioned the county attorney to determine whether the operators of Nassau Coliseum would be breaking the law 

Roger Waters, the front man and bassist for the iconic rock band Pink Floyd is once again making headlines as the self appointed spokesman of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, (BDS) movement, which seeks to isolate Israel from the international community for its perceived policies towards the Palestinians.

For years, Waters has discouraged musicians and artists from performing in the Jewish state, accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and calling it an “apartheid regime”.

Just recently, Waters spent weeks engaged in a cognitive war of sorts with the band “Radiohead” who performed in Tel Aviv on July 19th. Waters incessantly badgered Thom Yorke of the band to cancel the scheduled performance.  According to an article posted on the “Consequence of Sound” web site, Waters supports a “cultural boycott of Israel.”   

As the acrimony escalated on a palpable level, Yorke responded by giving Waters a tongue lashing for throwing “s**t at us in public” rather than engaging with the band behind the scenes. Yorke also took note of the fact that the boycott effort was quite offensive as Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood is married to a Jew of Arab descent.   

In the end, Yorke prevailed and courageously boycotted the boycotter and played to  incredibly enthusiastic fans who cheered all night for them at their Tel Aviv summer gig.

Now, in response to Waters’s stance, an official in New York’s Nassau County is threatening to take “appropriate legal action” against the operators of a local venue if they do not cancel an upcoming Waters concert, Consequence of Sound notes.

It was reported by that officials in Nassau County passed a law earlier this year that prevents companies and individuals from doing business with the county if they support BDS. (New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to similar effect last year.) Two weeks ago, Republican county legislator Howard J. Kopel petitioned the county attorney to determine whether Nassau Events Center, the operators of Nassau Coliseum, would be breaking the law by hosting Waters for a pair of performances at the Coliseum on September 15th and 16th. The coliseum is “a County sponsored facility,” Kopel said in his statement.

County attorney Carnell Foskey agreed that a Waters performance would violate the law, and is now lobbying Nassau Events Center to cancel the show. “By enabling Mr. Waters to perform, NEC has given Mr. Waters a forum or platform to express his BDS ideology,” Foskey wrote in a letter to the company that was obtained by Newsday.

Waters has said he plans to move forward with the concert “I think they’re gonna fail,” he said in a recent Facebook Live video, as was reported by the JTA. “I don’t think, I know they are, because you would have to tear up the Constitution of the United States of America, particularly the First Amendment, and throw it into the Hudson River, or the East River if that’s closer, in order for that to happen.”

Other local officials have also taken issue with Waters’ upcoming gigs. Hempstead Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman has been actively calling for Waters’ U.S. visa to be revoked.

Controversy seems to follow Waters to just about every location. JTA also reported on  an incident a few weeks ago in Miami, Florida in which a dozen teens from a Miami Beach Parks summer program who were scheduled to perform on stage with the Pink Floyd bassist withdrew their participation amid accusations of anti-Semitism.

Miami Beach spokeswoman Melissa Berthier told the Miami Herald hours before the scheduled concert, that the teens would not be participating, saying in a statement, “Miami Beach is a culturally diverse community and does not tolerate any form of hate.”

The Greater Miami Jewish Federation in an online ad on the Miami Herald website posted a link to a statement on its website reading, “Mr. Waters, your vile messages of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and hatred are not welcome in this community.”

Personal Life

In September of 2016, the Jerusalem Post reported that Waters and his then girlfriend Rula Jebreal split up after a brief affair. Known as “the Palestinian power couple”, the New York Post said they were “the talk of the Hamptons.” Jebreal is a Palestinian journalist who was born in the Israeli city of Haifa and grew up in Jerusalem. Waters started seeing Jebreal after the breakup with his now ex-wife Laura Durning. Jebreal and her husband, Arthur Altschul, Jr, a biotech engineer, ended their marriage when Jebreal’s affair with Waters was discovered.

Back in September of 2007, the Observer reported that Waters (whose iconic song “Money” from Dark Side of the Moon assailed wealth and new cars and caviar) bought a nine-fireplace townhouse at 157 East 61st Street in Manhattan.

According to city records, he paid $14.995 million to Coach president and executive creative director Reed Krakoff. That’s nearly a half million more than Waters got for three apartments he sold last year at the glossy Olympic Tower.

Subject of Documentary

Over the years, Waters has garnered an inordinate amount of ink (both good and bad) over his controversial position on launching boycotts against Israel. Recently, a growing number of social critics and media analysts have raised the question as to whether Waters harbors deep and ominous anti-Semitic feelings.  

Because conjecture of that nature has gained a certain level of gravitas because of Waters’ vociferous efforts to ultimately bring down the one and only Jewish State, it has caught the rapt attention of those in the literary and art world.

Waters, who also happens to be one of the world’s top-grossing musicians, is now the subject of a new documentary film by bestselling author and filmmaker Ian Halperin, according to a report on i24 News.

The documentary – titled Wish You Weren’t Here – is seeking to expose the dark side of the former Pink Floyd bassist and singer, as well as his alleged anti-Semitism.

Halperin's work includes several documentaries on famous musicians, such as Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson, and Lady Gaga.

When queried by i24 News as to the precisely why Halperin had decided to embark on a film of this kind and to place his investigative lens on Waters, Halperin candidly quipped, “Being the son of a Holocaust survivor, I almost fell off my chair that somebody was able to be out on tour and during his tour dress up in a Nazi uniform and have pigs floating around with the Star of David emblazoned on it. He also makes all these nefarious statements against the state of Israel and against the Jewish people.”

What Halperin was referring to when he spoke of Waters dressing in a Nazi uniform and having  “pigs floating around with the Star of David emblazoned on it” was an ominous display of political theater that were a routine feature during his concerts around the world. 

According to a July 2013 Times of Israel report, during a concert in Belgium, Waters “used a giant, pig-shaped balloon emblazoned with a Star of David and symbols of dictatorial regimes.” The report went on to say that while singing on stage, Waters stood “under the balloon while toting a machine gun replica and wearing a long black leather jacket with a red-and-white arm band, reminiscent of a Nazi uniform.” 

Waters was singing “get him up against the wall, that one looks Jewish and that one’s a coon, who let all of this riff-raff into the room” – the lyrics of the song “In the Flesh.”

Halperin, however, told i24 News that when it comes to Waters and others who are vocal proponents of the BDS movement, he makes a clear distinction in his own mind between the perennial question of one just offering legitimate criticism of Israeli government policies and espousing egregious forms of anti-Semitism.  

Halperin told the Israeli based web site, “I think it’s great to criticize Israel. It’s beautiful in any democracy where there are people who have concerns to have freedom of expression. But to call for a universal boycott of Israel, which Roger Waters does, is completely false and completely misleading. What Roger Waters is spewing goes far beyond freedom of expression. It’s an ingrained hatred towards the Jewish people in Israel. And this is not me saying this, this is the world’s leading experts, who appear in my film.”

Halperin revealed that among the scholars, politicians and musicians he interviewed for the film, he also conducted an interview with the legendary shock jock, Howard Stern. 

“Howard Stern really was the first media person to speak out against Roger Waters. I’ve appeared on Howard’s show several times. Kudos to him for calling out Roger Waters because it was about time somebody did,” Halperin declared.

In terms of what he hopes to achieve on the world stage with this film, Halperin said, “I’m hoping by doing all these interviews that all the corporate sponsors wake up and decide to take action against this man, who is perpetrating hatred towards the state of Israel and the Jewish people.”

By: Fern Sidman