‘A court has ruled I’m not an antisemite — excellent!’ claims Roger Waters at start of controversial German tour

The court cited “unlawful curbing of Waters’ ‘artistic freedom'”.

By Ben Cohen, Algemeiner

Former Pink Floyd vocalist Roger Waters kicked off the German leg of his European tour with a concert in Hamburg on Sunday night by addressing the allegations of antisemitism against him before the performance had even begun, according to local media reports.

Around 6,500 fans attended Waters’ concert at Hamburg’s Barclays Arena. Despite the preceding several months of controversy around the tour related to the singer’s support for the anti-Zionist campaign to subject Israel to a comprehensive boycott as well as the use of antisemitic imagery in his previous concerts, no protests were reported at the venue.

At the start of the concert, the audience heard Waters announce in English over the PA that “a court in Frankfurt has ruled that I’m not an antisemite — excellent!” He went on to say that, “to put it bluntly, I condemn antisemitism,” to warm applause from the crowd.

The city of Frankfurt had announced in Feb. that it was canceling Waters’ May 28 concert at the Festhalle venue which it jointly owns with the state of Hesse, where thousands of Jews were rounded up, beaten and tortured during the Nov. 9-10, 1938 nationwide pogrom orchestrated by the Nazi authorities. A statement from the city council explaining the decision denounced Waters as “one of the world’s best-known antisemites.”

However, lawyers acting for the singer successfully appealed the cancelation, with the Frankfurt Administrative Court ruling last month that the council had unlawfully curbed Waters’ “artistic freedom.” Attempts to cancel Waters’ shows in the other cities where he is performing this month — Cologne, Munich and Berlin as well as Hamburg — faltered on the grounds that the commercial venues hosting him were vulnerable to legal action for breach of contract.

The controversial pig balloon utilized in Waters’ past concerts again made an appearance in Hamburg on Sunday night, but without the offending Star of David symbol which had originally caused outrage. On this occasion, it was embossed with the slogan “steal from the poor and give to the rich” along with the names of various arms manufacturing companies, including one based in Israel, the German edition of Rolling Stone magazine reported.

Prior to the concert, Hamburg’s deputy mayor expressed regret that the show was going ahead. “All fans and concert-goers should consider whether they want to offer Waters a stage,” Katharina Fegebank told the Hamburger Abendblatt news outlet. “Together we have the chance to actively oppose antisemitism and anti-Israelism, and not just uncritically accept this concert, no matter how great we think the music is.”

Waters’ next date in Germany is in Cologne, where he will play at the city’s Lanxess Arena on Tuesday night. On Monday, Jewish and Christian groups gathered in the city center for a protest that was addressed by Cologne’s Mayor, Henriette Reker, and the chair of its Jewish community, Abraham Lehrer. A stage banner at the protest declared, “Roger Waters spreads antisemitic statements — fans inform yourselves!”

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